Should I get a dog?5 May 2023
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 26 May 2023
So the time has come.. .you’re thinking about dog ownership and need some help deciding whether you should get a dog.
This guide will help you ask yourself the important questions. Whether you’re considering getting a puppy or rehoming an adult dog, it should help you make informed decisions about the next big step.
What dog is right for me?
Before deciding exactly what dog might be right for you or focusing on choosing a dog breed, we would recommend asking yourself the following key questions. Getting a puppy or an adult dog is a big commitment - possibly of up to 15 or 20 years - so it’s important to think it through carefully and getting a dog should never be an impulse decision.
Have I considered all the costs?
With the prices of puppies at the moment exceptionally high, a lot of people are focused on saving up for that initial cost. However, once you have your new dog, there are a lot of additional costs you need to be prepared for. The PDSA estimate that owning a dog can cost up to £30,000 over their lifetime! So here’s the costs to think about:
- The initial purchase or adoption fee of a puppy or adult dog
- Insurance, annual vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, neutering, vet bills, grooming, travel documentation if your dog travels with you, Kennel Club registration for a pedigree
- Feeding, treats, collars, leads, shampoo, brushes, comfortable bedding, feeding bowls, poo bags
- Training sessions, agility classes
- Dog care costs (although this is where BorrowMyDoggy can help!)
Given these costs, it might be worth drawing up a rough budget before committing to getting a dog.
Do I have space for a dog?
Dogs can live fulfilled and happy lives in lots of different environments - but consider the space you have when choosing a dog.
Many dogs will fare better in a home where they have access to a secure garden. The size of the space is important but also ensure your place is safe for dogs.
If you rent your home, you will need to check with your landlord as some do not allow pets or require an additional pet deposit (also consider this if you move frequently).
The space you have can also affect the type of breed you are looking for. Larger dogs physically take up more space, so may need a larger home.
Do I have time to exercise and care for a dog?
The amount of exercise a dog needs will largely depend on its breed, age and fitness, but all dogs will need to be taken out daily and given plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy. Most dogs get bored if they only have access to a garden.
Choosing a dog based on the amount of exercise you have time for and are fit for could be a good starting point when considering different breeds of dog.
For example, active families may be suited to an active dog that enjoys running, or if you are less active, a dog that needs less exercise and prefers to laze about for most of the day may be a better choice!
Some questions to help think this through include:
- Do you work full time?
- How will your future dog fit into your normal daily routine?
- Are you willing and able to change your routine to keep your dog happy?
Will I like owning a dog?
Perhaps a silly sounding question, but some members of the BorrowMyDoggy community have borrowed dogs as a good way to test run if they’d like to own their own dog. Or to check if they’re really ready for the full-time commitment.
Borrowing different kinds of dogs can be a good way to see how compatible you are and how you might fit them into your routine.
Making friends with owners in the BorrowMyDoggy community can also be a rich source of information about dog ownership and discovering what dog might be best for you.
How will I socialise and go on holiday when I have a dog?
Dog care can be expensive, so consider this question seriously if you work full time or travel frequently.
There are plenty of dog friendly places to socialise or go on dog friendly holidays, but be aware of how this might change the way you have done things in the past.
Of course, BorrowMyDoggy can be a great alternative to kennels, dog boarding, doggy day care or other dog care options when you go on less dog friendly holidays.
Just make sure you give yourself and your new dog enough time to get to know borrowers before committing.
It’s also good to have plenty of options - so ideally have a few borrowers or dog sitters you can turn to when you’re in need.
What if I’m allergic to dogs?
If you’re asthmatic or have allergies, you should consult a medical professional before choosing to get a dog - some dog breeds don’t shed hair, or shed less than others, but this won’t always prevent an allergic or asthmatic reaction, with a number of people finding their allergies can be to the dogs dander instead of (or as well as!) their coat.
Should I get two dogs?
It is generally inadvisable to get multiple dogs or puppies at the same time - as orienting a dog to its new home can be a challenging time and training more than one puppy at once can be mayhem!
If you have other pets (for example, cats) also consider how they might get on with a new, potentially boisterous friend.
However, some rescue organisations will try to rehome more than one dog together - this is usually because they have lived together already and would prefer not to be separated.
Would I still be able to look after the dog if my current situation changed?
Not all of us plan too far ahead but, as a dog’s average lifespan might be between 8 and 20 years depending on the breed, you’ll need to consider your medium term future before getting a puppy.
If you’re rescuing or rehoming an older dog, the timeframe may be shorter but bear in mind the potential additional caring responsibilities an older dog might require and discuss these requirements with the rescue centre.
Some questions to ask yourself to help think your future plans through:
- Do you have major travel plans or want the flexibility to spend some time abroad?
- What’s going on in your work life - how likely is it that things will stay the same?
- Are you planning a career move that might require a period of longer hours and less flexibility?
- Are you planning a move from the city to the country, or the country to the city - would your potential dog be able to adapt to a new environment? See best dogs for country life and best dogs for city life.
- Perhaps you’ll be starting a family soon - will that change how much exercise you can give your new dog or the type of dog you might get?
Getting confused by the lingo? Here are a few definitions to help with your research.
- Crossbreed - a mix of one or more breeds of dog
- Hypoallergenic - less likely to cause an allergic reaction
- Moult - shed old hair or skin to make way for new growth
- Pedigree - the record of descent of an animal, showing it to be purebred
- Rescue - shorthand way of referring to a dog that has been in a rescue organisation or is without a current full-time owner
Borrowing a dog is a great way to see if you're ready for a pooch of your own, or if happy dog time with a local borrowed doggo might be the ideal situation for you.
Know someone who’d love this?
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Or perhaps you’re a dog lover who can’t have one of your own right now?
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