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Should I Get a Cuddly Canine? Four Main Questions to Ask Oneself…

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Having a dog is one of the most gratifying experiences of the world. There are many benefits, such as having a fun-loving companion in the house, going for walks together and exercising more, and joyfully playing with your new friend in the yard. There are even some great science-backed medical benefits, as pets can decrease loneliness and depression in individuals and even decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels through regular and daily interactions. However, having a dog is a major responsibility and is not one to be taken lightly.

Here are a few questions to ponder:

1) Can I afford it? Financial responsibilities for a dog can vary per breed and medical condition. For general purposes, the estimated cost of owning a dog can run from about $1,400 to $4,300 per year per the Spruce Pets. Medical conditions may push this number significantly higher. Before you get a dog, carefully review your finances to ensure that you can afford to care for the pet. There are many costs involved besides dog food. This includes and is not exclusive to yearly required vaccinations, monthly flea and tick treatments, monthly heartworm medications, dog supplies such as leashes, harnesses, crates, and dog beds, pee pads, and pet waste bags, toys and treats, grooming, health insurance, dog day camp and more. Training your new pet is also important. A private dog trainer may generally cost anywhere from $40 to $100 a session on average, whereas a group dog training class costs anywhere from $120 to $250 per six-week session. Overnight boarding can cost $40 on average per night to $75+ for luxury accommodations. Doggy daycare averages $25 a day and $15 for a half-day. So, as you can see, there are numerous costs to consider.

2) Do I have time to train and raise a dog? Getting a dog requires an investment of time to properly housetrain and teach a dog what is acceptable behavior in and around the home. This can be especially challenging for dogs with aggression or nervousness, high energy, obedience issues, and more. In some cases, behavioral therapy or medications may be necessary. However, even just routine training requires a lot of your time, patience, and energy. Dogs need to be taught how to walk on the leash properly, go potty outside, perform basic commands, interact with humans and other animals, and more. Having a well-trained dog is important. Some dogs catch on quickly, whereas others may require the skills of a professional trainer. Moreover, training requires a consistent and continual investment of your time. It may take a puppy up to six months to catch on and for a routine to be established. Young puppies lack bladder control, so expect accidents and be patient. Per Cannapet.com, no amount of punishment will prevent a puppy from having accidents. Instead, puppies should be taken outside frequently to do their business.

3) Can I take care of this dog? So often, parents have a hard time saying no to their kids who want a dog. Though the children usually mean well in promising to care for a pet, the task generally falls to the adults in the family, as school and other involvements can interfere with kids’ abilities to carry out day-to-day duties. Thus, adults must be responsible to step in and care for a dog, including being willing to walk them, feed them, and clean up after them. Take into consideration how much the family travels and goes on trips. Do you have a responsible party willing to take care of the dog in your absence? If not, bear in mind that dog hotels, doggy day camps, and dog kennels can be expensive, and prices should be factored in. Additionally, caring for a dog who is ill or running healthy pets to and from doctor appointments for vaccines, dental cleanings, and bathing and grooming can take up a lot of time and generally falls upon adult shoulders. Bottom line – do not get a dog unless you and your spouse, not kids, have the time to personally care for the pet.

4) Do we have allergies or short-term plans that might affect our abilities to care for a dog?

Pets become family members, and it can be a heartbreaking experience to have to find them a new home. If you have household members who suffer from allergies, it is important to understand what the root causes are to determine if owning a pet is something you can safely do. Since low shedding dogs with easy-to-maintain coats generally have less dander, having allergies might not rule out owning a dog. However, a medical doctor should be consulted before the family moves ahead with any decisions. Breeds such as Schnauzers, Bichon Frise, Labradoodles, and Maltese are considered great hypo-allergic dogs. Researching and understanding breeds are important. Also, setting rules such as not allowing the dog in the bed and creating a separate sleeping area for your furry companion might help. Also, consider future decisions that could impact your ability to care for a pet, such as a career move across the country that might require temporary housing. Understand that many apartment complexes do not allow pets, thus you might be better off waiting until your home is established.

Owning a dog is a fun and worthwhile experience; however, it is also a serious matter. Per the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million companion pets enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those disheartening statistics, approximately 3.3 million are dogs. And each year, sadly, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats), which is why people nowadays are urged to adopt and not shop for pets. Since pet ownership is a long-term commitment, with the average dog living ten to thirteen years, it is imperative to make such a serious decision and weigh-out what’s best for everyone.

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