Getting a dog can be one of the best decisions you ever make – they’re called man’s best friend for a reason. Dogs can be a huge source of joy, company and comfort in your life. That’s why, with the uncertainty of the past year, it’s no wonder that The Kennel Club reported a 53% increase on their ‘Find a Puppy’ tool in March.
However, there’s a lot to consider before you decide to get a dog. They may be (very!) cute, but your decision needs to be based on more than how a dog looks. So, here is everything you need to know before getting a dog.
Dogs Are for Life
First things first, dogs aren’t just for lockdown or Christmas. The average life span of a dog is 13 years. Before adopting or buying your own dog, you need to make sure you are ready for that commitment.
For those next 13 years or so, your lifestyle will be completely altered, and you need to make sure you’re ready for that change.
Different Breeds Have Different Needs
Next, you need to do some breed research. Like we said previously, it’s not all about how your dog looks. You need to find a breed that is compatible with your surroundings and lifestyle.
For example, cockapoos are very energetic and sociable animals – they need lots of exercise, love and attention and they shouldn’t be left alone for more than a few hours at a time. Comparatively, Greyhounds are much more adaptable and have lower energy levels (especially if they’re retired).
On top of different dogs’ needs and temperaments, consider your living arrangement, your surrounding area, your family structure and your work and social life.
Buying vs Adopting
There are pros and cons related to both buying and adopting a dog. No matter what you decide, visit the dog first so that you can make sure you are the right match for each other.
Adopting a dog is a great way to help a pet in need. Depending on their background, adopted pets need a little more nurturing during the transition period so this can be a great option for those who have had dogs before.
If adoption sounds like an option you want to explore, do your research, be patient and be ready to give lots of love.
However, if you’re a first-time owner or if you want a puppy, buying from a breeder may be your preferred option. If this is the case, make sure to find a reputable breeder and ask lots of questions before you visit.
Here are 10 questions you should ask when buying a puppy:
- Did they breed the puppies themselves?
- How many puppies are there and how old are they?
- How old is the mum and how many litters has she had?
- Have mum and dad been checked for inherited conditions?
- Do the puppies have any health problems?
- Can you have the mum and dad’s registration details?
- Will the puppies be vaccinated and wormed before coming home with you?
- Have the puppies been microchipped?
- Will there be a contract of sale?
- What dog food has the breeder been feeding them?
Ideally you should visit the breeder’s home a couple of weeks before you are due to pick up the puppy. If this is not possible due to COVID restrictions then make sure you see the dam and litter on a video call. There is no reason the breeder should not agree to this.
In no circumstances should you agree to take the puppy at a station or motorway services, however convincing or helpful the breeder sounds.
Unfortunately the recent high demand for puppies has raised their value to a level that attracts criminals so you must be even more careful than before. If something does not sound right then seek advice or walk away.
The Cost of Having a Dog
Dogs are expensive and so you need to ensure that you are going to be able to afford one. Unfortunately, the expenses don’t stop after your initial purchase (if you’re buying instead of adopting). You need to consider the cost of their food, supplies, toys, potential puppy training schools, insurance and vet costs.
Puppy Proofing your Home
Before bringing your new dog home, you will need to puppy proof your house or flat. Here a few quick tips:
- Hide all electrical cables
- Tie away blind cords
- Lock low cupboards that contain dangerous/toxic food and medications
- Keep your food bin up high or locked away
- Keep shoes or other small items out the way
Depending on the breed or size of your dog, you may also have to invest in some baby gates for your stairs. For some smaller dogs such as the Sausage Dog, going up and down the stairs too often can lead to spine issues.
Training your Dog
How you train your dog will vary depending on what breed of dog you have. The intelligence and stamina levels of your new pup will highly impact how quickly (or slowly) they pick up their new tricks.
However, as a rule of thumb, start small, be patient, establish a routine and be consistent, whilst also not being too strict.
Your dog will need to socialise with pets and humans alike. As soon as they have had all their necessary vaccinations, take your dog on walks to different places so that they can get used to other sights, sounds, people, pets and places.
An easy way to combine socialisation and obedience training is with dog and puppy training classes!
Pet Healthcare and Finding the Right Vet
Last but not least, you need to find the right veterinary surgeon for you. Your dog will need to visit the vet throughout their life – from getting microchipped and vaccinated as a puppy, potential neutering later on right through to older pet health checks.
At Kensington Veterinary Care we know how special your dog is to you and we strive to provide them with the highest quality veterinary care in London. Please get in touch with us if you need any more advice, or are looking to register your new pet with us.
Photo Credit: R.D. Smith