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Before You Get a Dog - Are You Ready

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Is dog ownership right for you? Sure, that cute little bundle of fur and puppy breath is irresistible right now, but the wrong decision can result in a disaster down the road. If you want to be sure you are making the right choice, consider these factors before you finalize those dog adoption papers!

Do you have what it takes to be a responsible dog owner?

Responsible dog ownership means more than just adoring your dog. It is a serious lifelong commitment that requires time and close attention. Before you get a dog, be sure you are ready to commit to responsible dog ownership. Don’t forget -- when Fido misbehaves, you are the one who will have to take the blame.

Can you afford a dog?

Basic dog expenses can range from $700-$3000 per year. Plus, consider all the little extras that you may want to splurge on for your pampered pooch. If your dog suffers from a health condition, you could be looking at spending several more thousand dollars per year. Consider purchasing pet insurance after you get your new dog – a large percentage of medical expenses may be covered. Then, make a monthly budget that you can stick to.

Is Your home appropriate for a Dog?

Pet-proofing is not quite the same as child-proofing. Our four-legged companions tend to be a bit craftier than kids when it comes to off-limits areas (especially those with edible components). You can hardly expect your dog to be fully trained on arrival, so there is bound to be the need for confinement and restraint. Do you rent your home? There is no reason renters cannot be dog owners, but you will need to work with the landlord. What about size? A studio apartment may not be ideal if you get a Great Dane. Do you have children or other pets? You cannot be certain everyone will get along.

Can your lifestyle fit a dog?

If you work very long hours or travel frequently, your lifestyle may not be appropriate for a dog. Though a social life is important to many people, do friends and dating take up the majority of your free time? Consider whether or not you are willing to make adjustments to your lifestyle to accommodate a dog in your life. If not, now is probably not the right time to get a dog. If you are willing to make changes, consider the time it will take to provide basic needs such as training, grooming, exercise, and veterinary care. Then, decide if you can make the time.

Do you have limitations?

A chronic health condition or injury can make it difficult to care for a dog - especially a larger breed. Be sure you have someone else who can help when necessary. What about dog allergies? Allergies can seriously debilitate a person, often resulting in the choice to give up the dog. If you or someone in your household has allergies, spend some time around dogs to see if the symptoms can be managed. It is simply unfair to give up a dog for this reason if it can be prevented. If you are disabled in any way, consider getting a specially trained assistance dog - then you will have a companion and built-in helper!
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