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Are you ready to bring home a dog?

From your lifestyle to how much time you can devote to a pet, here are the factors to consider before bringing a dog into your family

Our dogs depend on us for everything from food to fun. (Unsplash)

By Nitika Ahlawat

LAST PUBLISHED 28.03.2024  |  01:00 PM IST

Sharing your life with a dog is a privilege that some of us already have, and an opportunity that many of us are desperately waiting for. But bringing a dog into your life should be as well thought through as having a child.

Being a responsible pet parent is hard work. Here are a few things to consider before getting a dog.

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Time: Time is the most precious asset we own these days. We have limited time and so much that we want to do with it. Dogs are simple creatures who don’t care much about materialistic things; all they want is a little bit of our time and a lot of love, and it is essential to consider the time you can make for your dog. Regardless of the breed you decide on, all dogs require some of our time for their basic needs such as walks, training, play, vet visits, grooming appointments, and emotional support. When I decided to get my dog Grey Wind, I sat down with my family and ensured we were all on the same page about it. We planned out how we would go about sharing responsibilities, meeting her needs and the kind of life we wanted with her.

Also read: How old a puppy should be before you adopt and bring it home

Financial responsibility: Caring for and meeting our dog’s needs involves a cost. In addition to the initial adoption (or buying cost), you will also incur the cost of basic supplies (toys, leashes, collars, bed, etc), food expenses and the standard veterinarian expenses. However, there is the possibility of the costs increasing in the case of accidents or illnesses; in some cases, things can be long-term. For example, Grey was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 3 years, and that led to a sharp increase in our medical expenses. But as we won’t give up on our kids when things get complicated, giving up on our dog was never an option.

Our dogs depend on us for everything from food to fun. On many occasions, we may not be able to meet all their needs ourselves, and we may need the services of a pet sitter, walker, or boarder, and all of this also comes at a cost. It is best to factor in as much as possible before making the decision to get a pet.

Lifestyle: Each of us may have a very different idea of fun. Some of us like to relax at home, while others may want to go out, or go for runs for fun. Various types of dogs also have different energy requirements. For example, a Labrador will require more physical exercise than a Shih-tzu and it is important to consider if the dog’s energy requirement fits into your lifestyle.

In addition, if you love travelling, it is essential to plan who will take care of your dog in your absence each time you cannot take your dog along.

One thing is certain, some adjustments will always have to be made in our lifestyles to ensure that our pets are happy and lead good lives.

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Life stages: Whether you get a puppy or adopt an older dog, you must consider the care your dog will require at different stages of its life. Puppies need a lot of physical energy, while senior dogs require a lot of medical care—their requirements vary at various stages.

You will also have to consider your own life stages; you may currently be living the carefree bachelor life, but you will find love, marry, have kids, and relocate in the future—you must picture how you will care for your dog during all these stages. Before getting a dog, consider your future plans and whether you'll be able to provide care and stability for the duration of the dog's life. A dog is not just a temporary companion but a lifelong family member.

Consider behavioural issues: We all want that perfect companion dog to accompany us everywhere, but there is a chance that your dog may have or develop some behavioural problems. If that happens, you may need to work with a professional on things other than just basic obedience. This sort of work is not easy for the dog or the family.

If after this you feel like you are not fully ready to be a pet parent yourself, here are a few ways you can still get your doggie doses:

Fostering: Fostering allows you to experience the joys and responsibilities of pet ownership without a long-term commitment. Plus, you'll be helping a dog in need by providing them a temporary home.

Pet sit: Volunteering to pet sit for other can provide valuable insights into the day-to-day activities involved in living with a dog. This short-term commitment allows you to have the experience of living with a dog.

Walk others' dogs: Similarly, offering to walk other people's dogs gives you a glimpse into the daily routines of dog ownership. It's an opportunity to assess whether you enjoy spending time with dogs and can commit to regular exercise and care routines.

Volunteer at a shelter: Unfortunately, shelters are overflowing with dogs and are always in need of volunteers. Volunteering can be a great way to spend time with some amazing dogs while also giving back to the community.

In short, getting a dog is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of many factors, including time, financial resources, lifestyle, and commitment. While the companionship and love that dogs provide are invaluable, it's essential to ensure that you can meet their needs and provide them with a fulfilling life. By weighing these considerations thoughtfully, you can make an informed choice and embark on a rewarding journey as a responsible pet owner.

Nitika Ahlawat is a Bengaluru-based dog trainer and pet care content creator who posts on Instagram @thegoldengrey.

Also read: Planning to adopt an Indie pup? Here’s what to keep in mind