- Time Commitment: Between feedings, play time, and especially walks, a dog requires at least two hours of your undivided attention every day. If you’re away from home for 10 or more hours a day, the truth is you probably shouldn’t get a dog, and definitely shouldn’t get a puppy. If you do work full-time, make sure you can either come home at lunch or hire a dog walker (which can cost $10-$15 per day).
- Responsibility: You may be used to sleeping in on the weekends, going to happy hour after work and staying out until 3 a.m. on Saturday nights. However, your dog doesn’t know the difference between weekdays and weekends and will be used to going out at the same time every day, which may mean waking up at 6 a.m., even if you’ve been out ‘til 3. It also means that if you’ve been at work all day, you can’t head straight to happy hour without stopping home first.
- Cost: A purebred dog can cost upwards of $1,000, with some breeds costing as much as $9,000, and one from a shelter is anywhere from $100-$300. Other one-time costs include essentials like a crate, bed, leash and collar, dog tags and food bowls. Add to that the monthly cost of food, treats, toys and medicine (flea and tick drops and heartworm pills), plus training and unplanned trips to the vet, and you’ve added at least $5,000 to your annual spending. If you’re already living paycheck to paycheck, or do not have much of a disposable income, now may not be the time to take on such a high-maintenance pet and expense.
- Training: The only way to ensure you’ll have a well-behaved dog is to take the time to train him. Classes start around $100 at Petco and Petsmart and are available at all different levels. In addition to classes, you’ll have homework to do every day. If you’re not willing to take the time to train your dog, he may end up ruining your things, going to the bathroom inside or being aggressive toward other dogs or people.
- Traveling: If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you will need to have someone to take care of your dog while you’re away. Family and friends who are nearby and willing to help may be the most affordable option, but if they’re not available, you will need to find a reliable boarder, which again costs money (in Chicago, for example, boarding can cost $30-$60 per night).
If you’ve considered all of the above and are ready to take on this time-consuming and costly commitment, then you’re in for years of happiness with your new pet! Check your local animal shelters for great dogs in need of loving homes.