The Hard Part(s) Of Owning A Dog
As you look into those adorable round puppy-dog eyes, you catch the beginning of an animated tail wag – you're sold. This is the dog you've been waiting for. Your dog soulmate. Yay for you!
Now let's get real. If you've never had a dog before, you'll have no idea how much dedication it takes. No matter how long you've looked forward to this moment, a real live dog may surprise you. When you first bring your new pup home, you might be overwhelmed by how cute he is and how much attention he needs! Don't worry – let's go over a few of the responsibilities of dog ownership that might take some getting used to so you're fully prepared for what's to come.
It's all about the money.
We don't want to scare you away from getting a dog, in fact, we love that you're getting a pup! We are going to tell you to be financially prepared, for your sake, for the dog's sake, make sure you think about the financial obligations that go into pet ownership before bringing home a new dog. The cost of pet ownership is a topic that is often brushed over, but as advocates for you and your new pup, we're telling you now - it's gonna be pricey. Get serious and crunch the numbers for expenses like buying dog food for at least the next 10-15 years. You'll have some initial set-up costs for supplies like leashes, toys, bowls, blankets, beds, travel gear, etc. Don't forget about the veterinary costs and flea/tick medication, which make up a hefty chunk of the budget. Be prepared to spend more money than you expected and set aside some savings for unforeseen emergencies. While there's no sense (or fun) in worrying about everything that ‘could' happen, you can make sure you're well-prepared for the financial burden of pet ownership.
You're on dog's hours now.
This one takes a while to get used to. Most likely you already have to wake up earlier for work, well now you'll need to tack on at least 20 minutes to your ‘get ready' time in the morning to take the pup for a walk. Dogs need to be walked everyday and they need to relieve themselves first thing in the morning. In fact, they'll probably let you know that they need to go by being incessantly annoying until they (a) make a mess in the house, or (b) force you to scoot out the door. If your dog is going to be home alone the whole day while you're at work, make sure you organize for a friend, neighbor or dog walker to come and take your dog out in the middle of the day.
You'll have to make time in the evening too. If you've been at work all day, staying later for spontaneous after-work drinks is going to be tough unless you have someone on call who can let your dog out for you. Get in the habit of making plans for someone to take your dog out when you know you'll be away from home for longer than normal.
You have to wash and groom your dog, even when you don't want to.
Dogs don't need to be washed everyday, but they do need to be bathed a couple of times a month to keep their fur clean and skin healthy. Make sure you buy shampoo for dogs and take the time to blow dry them if you live in cooler climates. Brushing your dog after a bath will prevent nasty knots. Brushing between baths is also important to make sure your dog's fur is kept free of knots that can cause sores if left untreated for too long. The frequency of brushing also depends on the breed of dog you have. Short-haired dogs are significantly less maintenance when it comes to grooming, while longer haired breeds require a bit more beauty prep!
No skipping vet appointments.
Remember when you moved out of your parent's house and had to start thinking about making your own doctor's appointments? Good. Now you can add vet appointments for your dog to your mental to-do list. Once your dog has all of his vaccinations, you don't need to take him to the vet often, but if you notice anything off about your dog's behavior, it's always best to give your vet a call and make sure everything is fine. Veterinarians from VCA recommend taking your dog once per year after puppyhood, and increasing to twice per year as your dog reaches middle age.
Take time for training. Lots of time.
Even if you're exhausted and just want to veg-out in front of the TV or chat on the phone, it's important that you take the time to train your dog and be consistent with your methods. It takes time, patience and most importantly—it must be constant and consistent. Employing the help of a qualified dog trainer will remove a lot of the guesswork and take the pressure off of you. It takes time, but it pays off.
Your spontaneity is going to take a hit, but your coolness factor gains a point.
Gone are the days of pulling an all-nighter without a care in the world – now you have a little four-legged friend waiting for you. Dogs are completely dependent on you which means you need to be dependable. This doesn't mean you can never go out again, it just means you are going to have to invest a bit more time in planning to make sure your dog never goes too long without someone coming to check on him. You can employ the help of a dog walker, dog sitter, friend, neighbor or family member. One of the upsides of having a dog is making more friends in your neighborhood who either have dogs themselves, or are delighted to spend time babysitting an adorable pup.
Same rules apply for travel. While you may not be able to jet off somewhere for the weekend as you once would have, you can still take trips, but you'll need a little more planning time. If you're bringing your dog, then you will need to make sure he has all of his vaccinations up to date and you'll need to check with the airline for payments and requirements. If you're leaving the pup behind, you'll need some time to ensure a friend or sitter can watch over the little guy while you're away. Alternatively, a swanky dog hotel might be a sweet treat for your dog. Make sure you give yourself ample time to research dog sitters and dog hotels to find one that suits your dog's needs.
More cleaning … a lot more.
Even the cleanest of pups is going to make your house messier. Dogs have needs, and unfortunately humans are not always quick enough to recognize that dogs need to go outside to relieve themselves – the result is not pretty. We recommend investing in an array of quick, easy cleaning supplies. Paper towels, wet wipes, carpet cleaner and a vacuum are just a few of the staples that you should have on-hand in the first months with your new dog (and probably from now on).
Dogs shed, even the non-shedding breeds are going to leave some hair around your house. Vacuuming, dusting and mopping are going to be a lot more frequent than they were in your pre-dog life. The good news? Having a pup forces you to stay more organized, stock up on cleaning supplies, and clean the house more often!
Besides the everyday maintenance, remember that new dogs (especially puppies) will make a few disasters, i.e. ripping the turkey off the table and dragging it through the living room, so be patient, prepared, and remember it will end up being a great story that you'll laugh about later.
Checking-in with a living being that needs you.
If you've never had children, pets, or anything else that depends solely on you (succulents don't count), you may be surprised by how much care a dog needs. You have to routinely check-in with your dog to make sure he's eating, drinking, resting and exercising enough. The more you get to know your dog, the easier it will be to recognize when something in his behavior is slightly off, but for the first month, you need to be extra vigilant and attentive. Dogs have specific needs based on their breed and personality, just listen to your pup. Some things will be easy for you to pick up on, like if you take him for a hike and he's panting heavily, make sure you have water ready. Other instances might be more subtle and difficult for you to pinpoint, for example, your dog's sudden urge to destroy all the furniture might be a sign that he's bored and not getting enough physical and mental stimulation. A dog trainer can help you figure out what your dog needs in the first few months. Devices like Whistle can help you relax by offering insight into how much physical activity your dog needs and letting you know where he is at all times, even in the unfortunate event that your dog gets lost.
The most important thing to remember in the first days that you have your new dog is that, like anything new, it's going to take some time for you to get used to the new routine and responsibilities of having a dog. Don't worry that you're doing everything wrong or that you won't be able to adjust, it's normal and it will get easier as you get to know your dog. The joy and companionship your dog offers is going to far outweigh any of the inconveniences that may come about as a pet parent.
Feb 7, 2017