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We welcomed a white, Labrador retriever puppy into our home this past Christmas. His name is Henry and I love him. He is sweet and loyal and soft and adorable and has been the perfect little edition to our family.
Making the decision to get a new puppy, however, was not easy. In fact, it took us about 2 years after our first lab passed away to really even consider it. There is a lot to think about. And truth be told, I was kind of enjoying my life and my freedom without a dog.
But my husband and kids were super persistent as husbands and kids can often times be. Before agreeing to a pup, I may or may not have made some demands. Like a robot vacuum, for instance, to combat the onslaught of shedding hair coming my way. Anyway, one thing lead to another and, well… now we have a puppy (and a robot vacuum!!).
Now that the fluffy rascal is in our home, I wanted to compose a list of things to consider before getting a puppy or even an older dog in hopes that other families can thoroughly think it through before taking the plunge and bringing home rover.
This post is in no way meant to discourage others from getting a pet. In fact, out of all my family members, I may be the most in love with our new fur baby. I just feel, as a practical and sensible lady, it is important to understand what you are committing to before pulling the trigger.
So here it is, a list of 10 things to consider before you bring home a puppy.
I think it goes without saying that puppies are not cheap. Sure, you can rescue a dog from a shelter and save money on the actual cost of the dog but there are many other expenses that come along with owning a pet including:
- Flea and Tick Medications
- Vitamins and Supplements if needed
- Vet appointments
- Possible spay or neuter
- Boarding or dog care costs when you are out of town/at work
- Accessories such as leashes, collars, adorable holiday sweaters (lol)
- Dog crate or pens
- Dog bowls, dog food containers
- Dog toys
- Behavioral classes and training tools
- Grooming accessories and outside costs if needed
- Unexpected emergencies
- New shoes, furniture, baseboards and drywall for when your puppy eats all of yours (kidding not kidding)
Again, not trying to discourage anyone but definitely worth sitting down and discussing what you will need and your budget. Can you afford a puppy? Do you want to afford a puppy?
As in, do you have enough? Dogs, especially puppies, take a huge amount of time to care for. They need to be fed, walked, bathed, let outside and played with. They have doctors appointments to go to just like children. And, like a infant or toddler, they have to be trained how to use the potty in the proper place, sleep through the night and not act a complete and total fool while out in public.
Is this the right time for your family? True, that is you wait for “the right time” there may never be one but I would try and avoid bringing home a dog or pet close to or during major life changes such as:
- Having a newborn
- Being pregnant
- Really just having very small/young children (they cray)
- Selling a home
- Job changes
- A shift in family dynamics
- Traveling a lot for work or having to spend long hours at the office
It might be best to let the dust settle on life before jumping into a new and time consuming responsibility.
My last dog was 6 when we had our first of three kids and, frankly, he moved way down to the bottom of the totem poll at that time. However, now that my kids are 8, 7 and almost 5, life seems much more manageable and getting a puppy made a lot more sense.
What breed are you considering and is your home and available green space (yard or nearby park) the right size to accommodate it? How big is the breed and how much energy do they have? Will they have enough room to run and play? Will they take up half of your living room (I’m looking at you Great Danes)? All good and important things to think about.
Unfortunately, with dog ownership comes a big decrease in your freedom and ability to just pick-up-and-go whenever you feel like it. You have to think about and plan for when you go out of town or have to spend most of the day at work.
What are you going to do with the dog? Can you take the dog with you? If not, who is going to walk, check in on or care for them while they are gone? Can you afford a dog-walker, doggie day care or boarding expenses for out of town events. If not, can you afford not to go on said trip or to come home from work in the middle of the day?
Consider swapping dog-watching services with friends, neighbors or family members if they are willing.
It is definitely worth considering weather or not those in your home have allergies to dogs. Also worth some thought is if close friends or family have allergies to dogs. Will they still be able to come over and enjoy time with you?
Dogs shed. Dogs dig. They slobber and are messy eaters. And, as horrible as this is, dogs will sometimes poop, tinkle or vomit on the brand new rug you just bought at Target. You have really not experienced life until your robot vacuum runs over a fresh pile of dog poop.
Needless to say, unless you are hoping your home is featured on the next episode of hoarders, all of those messes have to be cleaned up and damaged goods may need to be thrown out or replaced. So just make sure you ask yourself, am I willing to deal with that?
8. Your Own Kids
So this is something I did not give one single thought to when we recently decided to get a puppy. I did not for one second consider how my kids would behave around and with the dog.
Apparently, kids don’t know how to act around dogs and, like everything else, you have to teach them and model for them how to behave around an animal.
We had to teach my children that squealing and running away from a dog only make the dog want to chase after you. Stay calm and quiet and, after he sniffs you, he will ignore you.
We had to stop them from feeding him extra meals when we weren’t looking and continually tossing him dog treats every few minutes. Kids don’t understand that dog treats are like cupcakes and too many of them is unhealthy.
I have also been shocked at the amount of times my children tattle on our dog every day. As if they weren’t already tattling enough on their siblings.
Mommy!!! Henry has my Barbie in his mouth!
Mommy!!! Henry is eating my shoe!
Mommy!!! Henry won’t leave me alone.
Mommy!! I can’t get Henry to come inside!
9. Other Kids, Neighbors and Visitors
Believe it or not, there are many people that are scared of dogs or who just do not enjoy pets. When you are puppy shopping you think, well of course all the neighbors and neighborhood children and people visiting my home will fall in love with this adorable ball of fur, right?
Take a minute to consider the neighbors and friends in close proximity to you and those who visit your house often. Perhaps you need to have a conversation with them or their parents (if kids) before you bring home a new, energetic puppy.
10. Companionship and Cuteness
Fear not, it’s not all messy and time consuming and seemingly bad. After all, pets are wonderful companions. They keep us company when we are lonely and love us unconditionally. They are sweet and calming to snuggle with. That’s why so many dogs and other animals are used as therapy pets in hospitals, nursing homes and rehab centers. They make people happy.
Besides, puppies are downright adorable. Go ahead, I dare you to look at a picture of a puppy and not be overcome by cuteness.
Despite all the puppy craziness that our lab, Henry, has brought into our lives, he has really been a joy to have around. Whenever I stop even for a minute to wash a dish, fold some laundry or clean up something off the floor, he comes right over and lays at (and often on) my feet. Such a sweet boy!