Caring for your dog, not your ego.

Everything you need to know to develop the best relationship with your dog.

Thinking of buying a dog?  You need to read this first, there is a very real chance you’re not ready.  Already have a dog?  No worries, this might help you tighten up your game a bit.
buying a dog is not a light decision

So you are thinking about buying a dog (or adopting/rescuing).  This is the perfect opportunity for you to double, triple, or even quadruple check your decision to become a dog owner. You’re not buying a new TV, motorcycle, or even a car. A dog has 24/7 needs and is a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, loving, hurting, being.   That’s heavy, I know.

Here are 10 big things to think about before beginning to even think about selecting a do (dog selection is a completely separate and substantial topic to be covered later).

DURATION

Depending on the breed you are considering, dogs have lifespans that range from 8-10 years on the low range to upwards of 15+ on the high side. For a lot of people, rescuing is the best option and mixed breeds are known for their health and longevity. Plan on spending the next 10-15 years being focused on the things on the rest of this list.

Are you ready for a commitment that long?

COST

Allow me to tell you the simple fact that dogs ain’t cheap. Far from it. People have no clue what they are getting into, hence why I am making a point to let them know right now.

I have owned dogs of various sizes and breeds for over 20 years. With all that experience it is safe to say I know how and when to cut costs, and when to bite the bullet. The average owner or even the new owner for that matter does not have that experience or knowledge, which means they pay the most.

It is very safe to say that you can expect to spend $2000 a year on the VERY low end of a medium sized dog, and upwards of $3,000 a year for that same medium sized dog. That is a VERY rough estimate. Obviously that does not account for emergencies, which cost a LOT of money.

Food and regular veterinary care are the most expensive and regular costs. I am 100% against feeding your dog any type of dog food that you buy in the dog food isle of the grocery store. If you are feeding raw food, then fine, a human store is acceptable. Generally speaking though, all the quality dog food is either going to be at a feed store (if you live in a rural area) or a specialty dog store (urban folks). The good dog food is not cheap, but it is worth every penny.

Bottom line, dogs cost money and you need to be prepared for that. You should anticipate setting a minimum of $100 a month aside for your dog’s care and anything leftover gets rolled over to save for that unforeseen trip to the vet because your dog thought those new Victoria Secret panties were for dinner.

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

WORK

Does your job even provide you with the time to be a good dog owner? What time do you have to be to work? You will need to get up even earlier to take Fido for a walk. What time do you get home from work? Don’t forget, he’s been holding his pee ALL day. Do you work alternating shifts? Dog’s thrive on consistency and need to know what to expect on a daily basis when it comes to their food and bathroom breaks.

Are you ready to look for a new job if you have to?

VACATIONS

I can tell you from personal experience that dogs and vacations can be quite the combination. For me, it meant no vacations for many years. My situation was slightly different because I owned very aggressive dogs who required very specialized care. That does not apply to 99% of people who might be reading this, however instead of missing vacations like I did, they will simply have to spend more money.

You will need to either find a very trustworthy friend, a quality boarding facility, or plan on finding a pet friendly destination. All of these cost extra money which can get added to the costs of ownership. It’s not cheap as in this case you definitely get what you pay for.  If the price is surprisingly low it is for a reason.  Invest time in deciding who will care for your dog in your absence.  

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

FRIDAY NIGHTS

When you have had the work week from hell nothing seems as sweet as a Friday afternoon.   Just as you get to the parking lot and prepare to embark upon a Happy Hour marathon, it hits you. Responsibility comes creeping into your agenda and suddenly Happy Hour is a fantasy not soon to be experienced.

We will make an assumption on your behalf and give you credit for making the only correct choice in such a situation. Going home to take care of your best friend who has been unable to go to the bathroom for at least 8 hours is the only choice. Hence why Happy Hour isn’t going to happen.

Most people can’t fathom holding their bladders for a 3 hour plane flight.  How about your dog who has been holding it all day while you are at work?   Whether in crate or on a couch, there is no difference. Owning a dog means coming home when you need to come home, no excuses. If you want to go out, then you are going back out after providing  not only a bathroom break, but a nice long walk for your dog to drain the days built up energy along with the bladder.

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

SATURDAY MORNINGS

If by some chance you do find yourself either going out, or simply consuming a good time at home, it matters not. You will be getting up at the butt crack of dawn by way of a tongue bath on your face or the worlds loudest tap dancing tournament coming from your dog’s crate.

It has been all night and yes, its bathroom time again. Forget your self induced pain and nausea, that poor dog of yours it seeing yellow for Christ’s sake!

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

SOCIAL LIFE

If it doesn’t include your dog, it certainly isn’t going to be too active.  Here’s a tip, just find other people with similar dog interests as you.  It’s just easier that way, don’t fight it, let it happen.

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

CONSISTENCY

For many of us, consistency is something that is struggled with on a daily basis and often in a non-dog context. The discipline required to manage one’s life in an organized and efficient level can seem challenging and difficult to maintain. We manage, sometimes enjoying moments of organized thought, only to return to our own self created chaos. The best part is we apply labels to those who do have the discipline and ability to be consistent in their lives. What used to apply to a specific diagnosis of unpractical routine and sickness, think Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, is now a jab we throw at those who simply are better than us at this seemingly daunting task. They are no more OCD than we are ICD, IN – consistency disorder!

When we move the conversation to dogs the only thing that changes is the very real consequences of our inconsistencies. Dogs that are not on a routine are not only prone to housebreaking issues but also more  behaviorally challenging.

Animals need regular and predictable schedules. Especially the house dog who is notoriously under-stimulated as it is. Predictability is paramount in the dogs psyche and the more she can count on things like regular bathroom opportunities and scheduled long walks, the less anxiety and hyperactive behavior you will have to deal with from the her.

If you want to be a good dog owner, which you should for your dog’s sake, then you must create a schedule and stick to it. While this really isn’t an article on canine behavior, it does need to be mentioned that consistency also applies to how you communicate with your dog and the rules and boundaries you establish and maintain.

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

TIME

This is a huge one and the most often overlooked. The time commitment required is huge. As I mentioned earlier, you are not buying a toy or inanimate object. You are thinking about acquiring another living and feeling being on this earth. This is some serious shit. Really, it is.

You got a hint by reading all the previous sections that there is a lot involved. Now add to it the necessary mental and physical stimulation to keep your dog happy. An unhappy dog is a dog with a shitty owner. Some people think that hugs when convenient for them makes their dog happy. This is not so. Actually, there are going to be plenty of times over the course of your dog’s life when what they need will be anything but convenient for you.

Every single day, that dog needs to be engaged, mentally challenged, and exercised. Luckily if you are getting a dog for just that, the interaction, then it will be an incredibly fulfilling experience. Otherwise, you might be in for a rough trip. Allow me to inform you now in case you didn’t know…..A 5 minute potty break does not count as a walk. A walk is 30-45 minutes of stimulating, brisk, mental and physical stimulation. When you don’t provide that for your dog bad things start happening. Under stimulated dogs who do not get enough quality time from their owners get destructive, anxious, obnoxious, and in some cases, dangerously aggressive. If you aren’t’ ready for 2-3 hours a day then don’t get a dog. I mean it. Get a cat or a fish.

Are you ready for 15 years of that?

And the number 1…..

 

SACRIFICE

You will indeed have to sacrifice a great many things to be a good dog owner. While some of the majors have been covered in this article, it is impossible to list everything as much will depend on your own individual situation.

The point is, are you ready for what could be well over the next 10 years of your life, to sacrifice whatever is necessary to be a worthy dog owner? I say worthy because it truly is us who are on the receiving end of a gift when it comes to owning a dog.

Ask yourself…..should I be buying a dog?  Is it that time or perhaps not just yet?

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