Sharing your life with a puppy can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life, but it is also one of the most demanding. Before you get a puppy, think first! Is there really time for a dog in your life, your home, your lifestyle? Can you commit to your new family member for at least 15 years, possibly more?
I would love to walk you through the decision making process to figure out whether this is the appropriate time to welcome a little furry family member. Please consider the following aspects carefully to set you up for a great relationship with your new puppy! Here we go!
FOUR Questions you need to ask yourself
1. WHY do you want a dog?
Does everyone in your home want a dog? If the answer is “ For the kids” well... even though they promise that they’ll be the ones feeding, walking, grooming and cleaning after the puppy (which they will most certainly do during the first week or so...), do not deceive yourself and accept that in reality it will be YOU, and only YOU the one that will be (almost) entirely responsible for this puppy’s well being.
If the answer to WHY is along the lines of "A playmate for my current dog"? If so, let me give you a couple of words of advice. You see, it sounds idyllic going for Dog 2 to provide Dog 1 with a playmate, a soulmate, or so as to prevent Dog 1 from being alone and bored and to “entertain” each other. BUT it may not be that simple finding the perfect match for Dog 1, actually it can make the situation worse. Best case is that you end up with TWO bored, under stimulated and possibly destructive dogs. Bottom line: if you don’t have the time for Dog 1, you do not have the time for a SECOND dog either!
If the WHY is answered with the word “gift” or “surprise”, please refrain from doing so UNLESS you are including the giftee in the decision and he/she is a responsible grown up and well able to cater for a puppy’s needs. It may go without saying but a dog is NOT A TOY!
If the WHY responds more to a UTILITARIAN point of view where you want the puppy as an EXERCISE PAL, to motivate you to get out the door… well it's ok as long as you do not drop such a nice habit down the line, since in doing so you will neglect your puppy’s need for physical exercise.
2. Do you have the TIME to provide their required exercise? (walks and play, for 365 days during all four seasons).
I don’t want to put you off but my memories of walking my dog in Dublin (Ireland) go hand in hand with pictures of water dripping down my nose and soaked clothes (yes, soaked! There isn’t, or I haven’t found yet, outdoor clothes waterproof ENOUGH to keep you dry under the persistent Irish rain!).
Factor in the “cost of opportunity” when you’ll have to say NO to after work drinks because you MUST get home to your puppy and you’ll most certainly need to get out of bed early in the morning to take your puppy out for a walk.
Your puppy will take up a lot of your time, particularly in the beginning. You’ll need plenty of time for training, socialising, supervising, walking, playing etc. During the first weeks at home, your puppy will need round-the-clock attention, can you provide that?
3. BUDGET wise
Can you afford the vet’s bills, including vaccinations, regular deworming, proper food, boarding facilities, insurance, training equipment, bed, food bowls, etc.?
4. Can you provide a SAFE & SECURE environment for your puppy for their entire life?
Of course I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, but whatever your current circumstances may be, they can change. Are you for example planning on switching jobs, moving to another country, moving out from your current home etc.? Please think carefully about all these potential situations coming your way while still being able to provide your puppy with a stable and secure life. Plan for the unexpected with your puppy always in the picture. Will you be resourceful enough to cope with it?
Putting it all together
All I want to prevent from happening is for you to get easily carried away by the cuteness and fluffiness factor only. By being as honest as possible answering the above questions you should have a clearer idea on whether this is the “right time” for the adventure to welcome a puppy in your life. If so, it will most definitely be an enormously rewarding one!