Are you ready to let a puppy into your heart and home?

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I dreamt for years of having my own dog.  When I finally brought home my Springer Spaniel pup it was one of the happiest days of my life.

Before I did I made sure I was as clear as possible on what having a puppy at home would entail. I’m so glad I did as having a puppy is life changing. It’s easy for joy to turn to disillusionment if you aren’t prepared.
So if you are considering getting your first puppy, here’s some things to think about before you take that leap.

Have you got the finances to take care of a dog for life?

Buying your puppy is the cheap part!  The cost of keeping your dog for the rest of their lives is a big financial commitment.  It’s worth working out approximately how much you will spend on your dog per month before you decide to buy a puppy.
Here’s some of the things to consider:
  1. Food/treats
  2. Insurance
  3. Routine veterinary care – vaccinations, worming, flea treatment etc
  4. Emergency veterinary care
  5. Dog beds, collars, leads, harnesses, toys
  6. Day care/boarding
  7. Grooming
The ASPCA estimated that in the first year the average costs of keeping a pet was just over $1000 and around $500 a year after that.
Personally I know I spend far more than that on my dog – his insurance alone this last year was $1500.  His raw food and supplements work out at around $2 a day.  Obviously costs vary, depending on size and breed of the dog.
Check out this interesting article for more on this:

Do you have the space for a puppy?

Again depending on the breed will depend on what you need.
We live in a fairly small property with a small back yard and I did wonder if this would be sufficient for a dog such as a Springer Spaniel. Fortunately I live a 2 minute walk from a park where he can be off leash so I decided it wouldn’t be a problem.
Consider your home environment and the breed of dog you want.  All dogs require exercise but some less than others.  With careful consideration most homes are suitable provided you choose the right breed and temperament of dog.

Have you got the time?

Having any age of dog takes up quite a bit of time.  Puppies even more so.
Puppies need to be let out regularly to do their business.  Typically a puppy can hold it’s bladder for 1 hour for every month of their life (longer whilst sleeping at night).  This means a 12 week old puppy can go a maximum of 3 hours before needing to relieve themselves.
Make sure you take the time and patient to properly toilet train.  And be ok with accidents or little presents being left for you whilst your dog is young.
Puppies also need letting out to toilet in middle of the night so expect some disturbed sleep!
And then there is general training, socialising your pup with others, ensuring they see lots of different environments and experiences so they grow up well adjusted.
The more little and often time you can put in to training your pup the more this will pay off when your dog is older.

Do you have the right attitude?

Puppies are so cute – it’s easy to go all gooey over them with those beautiful big eyes and playful antics.  But will you be as loving when they have chewed up your favourite pair of shoes?
To be a great puppy parent consider the following ideal characteristics and see how you meaure up:
  • Loving
  • attentive
  • kind
  • patient
  • consistent
  • willing to learn
  • not overly house proud
  • accepting of toileting accidents and chewing
You can house proof your home to limit how much destruction your puppy causes.  Plus provide mental stimulation, chew toys/kongs and the right level of exercise/play time to keep them occupied.
Crate training or confining them to a safe area when not supervised is also a very wise idea.
Even so, they are bound to get their teeth around something that they are not supposed to have!  My boy destroyed shoes, slippers, table mats, mobile phone, remote controls, iPods and more.  And I think we got off quite lucky compared to other stories I’ve heard!  Plus fortunately non of his chewing escapades ended up with a trip to the vets.

Does Your Lifestyle Work for A Dog?

My husband and I have had our dog for 10 years now and in that time we haven’t taken any holiday together that didn’t include the dog.  We have still had the odd trip abroad but always separately so someone was always home for the dog.
If you are the sort of person who loves frequent trips away where your dog isn’t welcome then having a dog may not be for you. Alternatively you will need to arrange care for your dog either in kennels, home boarding or if you are very lucky with a friend or relative.
Also what about your work.  Puppies can’t be left for hours upon hours alone.  And many adult dogs suffer anxiety when left alone.  If you have to be out all day at work you will need to make arrangements for your puppy’s care in your absence.
You also need to consider the needs of your puppy when you go out for the day or the evening.  If possible can you take them with you?  We love days out with our dog.  Nowadays there are more and more dog friendly places to eat and drink.  Just be aware that not everywhere is dog friendly.  Sometimes you have to miss out on a restaurant or tourist attraction with your dog.
What about their daily exercise needs.  Are you an outdoor person?  Your puppy will need exercise twice a day.  When the weather is just right it’s lovely to your dog out for a walk.  Will you be as committed on those cold, dark, rainy, winter nights?
All the above are points to consider when you make the decision to get a pup.  Do your research.  Think carefully about how well you can take care of your puppy.
Then if you know it’s the right time for you to let a puppy into your heart and home, go for it.  

Having a dog in your home is one of the most wonderful and rewarding things you can do in life.  I wouldn’t swap my experience for anything.