Should I Get a Puppy? A Simple Checklist for Families
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Guess what? We just got a puppy! So of course, my opinion is somewhat biased. But I would also like to tell you that I am NOT a dog person. If not for certain family members, I would never choose to get a dog. I don’t pet dogs when I see them at friends or family’s homes. There’s not even very many puppies that make me ooh or aah. However, after now having two puppies in my home, I have some insights to share. We have a large family, with 5 kids and lots of commitments and activities. So I certainly understand being busy. But no matter how busy you are, I’m going to try to help you answer the question, “Should I get a puppy?”
Scroll to the bottom for the checklist!
Step 1: Is there room in your heart and your home?
The very first thing you should ask yourself when considering getting a puppy is why you want one. Is it a fleeting desire? How long have you been interested in getting a puppy? If your child is the one that wants a dog, are they responsible enough to care for it? Dogs, and pets in general, should not be thought of as a hobby or a toy. They will become part of your family. And you should be prepared for that to happen. If you feel like you have room in your heart and in your home for a puppy, you can move on to step 2!
Should I get a puppy question 1: Do you have room in your heart and your home for a dog?
Step 2: Are you financially prepared for a puppy?
Whether you rescue a dog in need or go through a breeder, there are quite a few costs associated with getting a puppy. When you ask yourself, “Should I get a puppy?” You need to highly consider the financial commitment. In addition to the initial cost of getting a dog, there’s food, vet appointments, training, boarding, toys, and possibly grooming. According to Money Under 30, you should plan to spend at least $500 per year on your pet. And in my experience, that’s a low estimate. In the past, we had a goldendoodle dog. And now, we have a bernedoodle puppy. Both of these dog breeds require regular grooming. So that’s a large additional expense that needs to be planned for in advance.
Also, having a dog impacts travel. You will either have to board your dog, which can be a large expense. Or you can bring your dog with you on vacations, which is what our family does as often as possible. However, this also has an additional cost since we have to find rental homes or hotels that are pet friendly, which usually have an additional expense associated. Use this (affiliate) link from AirBnB to search for a rental home that is pet friendly!
If no one will be home with the puppy during the day, you’ll need to plan to pay for pet sitting. This is also a large additional expense that you should factor in before you commit to a puppy.
Should I get a puppy question 2: Are you financially prepared for a dog?
Who will care for the puppy?
In our family, this is something that is very clearly established prior to each of our dogs. When we got our first puppy, I was a young Mom to three children ages 5 and under. Looking back, it might have seemed kind of crazy to get a dog at that time! But my husband and my oldest son had been wanting to get a dog for a long time. So I relented and got on board with the idea of a puppy.
However, I made it perfectly clear that I would not be helping in any way with the new dog. I said clearly that I would not walk the dog, pick up messes, help with training, or take it to the vet. This may sound harsh, but it was better to be clear with what my family could expect from me for my contribution. And in my case, my contribution was zero. So it fell to my husband to make the commitment to care for the puppy. And he did!
Mom doesn’t help with the dog. At all.
Of course, I did end up helping to care for the dog. But this was not expected, it was just appreciated. I ended up loving our first dog more than I thought possible. I walked her nearly every day just because I enjoyed it. But I almost never took her to the vet or groomer because the amount of other dogs in those places overwhelmed me. And my family respected that.
Now, with a new puppy joining our family, my rules are the same. Of course, I look forward to taking this new dog on walks and cuddling with him on my own terms. But my family knows that I can’t be counted on to do much else. And that’s ok because it’s clear from the beginning!
Should I get a puppy question 3: Who will take care of the puppy?
Be very clear about this in advance. Ask each potential caretaker to commit to their duties, honestly and openly.
Make a plan for training.
Raising a puppy is a lot like raising children. It takes a serious amount of time and effort to raise well behaved, polite children. And it also takes a serious amount of time to raise a well behaved dog! With both of our puppies, we have taken training very seriously. We have crate trained both and find that method very successful. If you want more information on this, be sure to visit this Humane Society article.
Having a well behaved dog starts the minute you bring your puppy home. So you need to have a discussion with all of your family members about how you will train your new dog. It’s very important that you all be on the same page. Having a safe and polite dog doesn’t happen by accident. If you can’t commit to the time it takes to train a dog, you shouldn’t get a puppy.
The Puppy Checklist
And now, what you’ve been waiting for! The checklist you need to review before you commit to a new puppy. Go over this simple checklist with your whole family before you bring home a new furry family member.
A puppy brings joy, but is also a huge commitment.
Our dogs have brought our family immeasurable joy. Even though I am definitely not a dog person, I’ve loved our dogs more than I ever thought possible. I truly believe that our dogs have been one of the greatest gifts I could ever give my five children. But just like so many things in life, even though it works for us, it doesn’t work for everyone. I hope this post has been helpful in helping you decide if you should get a puppy!
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