One of life’s greatest joys is having a dog as part of the family but before making the decision to get a dog there are a number of considerations to take into account. First and foremost remember it will be a long term commitment. The average life span of a dog is between 10 to 13 years but this may differ depending on the size of the dog and the breed. Also they will be totally reliant on you for everything they need which, other than food, water and exercise, will include regular vaccinations and health checks with a vet to ensure they have a long, healthy and happy life.
Deciding what kind of dog to get is as important as whether to get a dog in the first place. Each breed has its own unique appearance, activity level and temperament. You need to understand what a dog requires physically and mentally so they can live their best life. Below are some aspects to consider when making your decision.
Affordability: To have a healthy and happy dog you must be able to afford to feed it, pay for its vaccinations and annual check-ups with the vet. All dogs that are not used for breeding should be spayed or neutered and that is an expense that must be considered. Depending on the type of dog some will need grooming on a regular basis. When considering cost you will have to decide whether you want a pedigreed dog or one from a shelter, a puppy or an older dog. No matter the dog, their needs are the same. Do your research and please avoid puppy farms, buy from a recognized breeder or reputable shelters.
Size of living space: A major consideration to take into account is the size of your living space which will inform you as to whether you should get a large or small dog so there is enough space for them to remain active.
Your lifestyle and daily schedule: Are you an active person who loves the outdoors or prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, do you work or are you able stay at home? These factors will determine what type of dog to get. Dogs are social animals and will need company as often as possible no matter what the breed.
The breed of dog: There are many wonderful breeds available so speak to a veterinarian, breeder or shelter personnel to determine what breed will suit you. Try and find a breed that is compatible with your lifestyle, activity level and living conditions. Some of the breeds suitable for active people are Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dobermans and Rhodesian Ridgeback. Those more suited to a sedentary lifestyle are Pugs, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds, Basset Hounds and Shih Tsu. Each breed is different so it is important to do your research.
Consider a shelter: Dogs in shelters come in all shapes and sizes and most of them are there because they have been abandoned, surrendered or maltreated so you could be the one to give them a second chance. A reputable shelter will give them health checks and behavioural evaluations and can help you choose the right dog for you. Given food, water, a safe place to sleep, affection and care they will become a loving and loyal companion.
Allergies: If anyone in your home has allergies consider this before bringing a dog into the home. Some breeds shed less than others such as Poodles, Schnauzers and Bichon Frises.
Age: Age is an important consideration, choose with your head and not your heart. All puppies are cute and cuddly but they require more care than older dogs and will need a lot of your time and patience to potty train, socialize and ensure they get enough exercise so they grow up to be the health and happy dog they should be as they develop into adult dogs. The initial costs of vaccinations and spaying or neutering must also be taken into consideration. Older dogs could also have some health issues but are usually house trained, have doggie manners and the destructive chewing stage should have passed although, no matter the age, all dogs can be trained with patience on your part.
Dogs are energetic and playful and can improve your mood and keep you healthier by you having to take them for walks or play outside or inside with them. A child growing up with a dog learns to be more responsible and caring and they have a constant playmate and loving and loyal companion. With their heightened senses of hearing and smell they will be able to detect things before you so they can alert you to any danger to keep you safe. Their natural instinct is to protect their “pack” which includes you and your family. It is believed that dogs are very sensitive to people’s body language, tone of voice and moods and will react to certain people differently which can help you to determine whether someone is safe to be around. Any loving and caring human will tell you that they could not imagine their lives without their dog.