Adopting a dog? 5 questions you must ask yourself

By Dr Ros Dench & Vedrana Nikolić

Adopting a dog? 5 questions you must ask yourself
Veterinary surgeon Dr Ros Dench and anthropologist Vedrana Nikolić from Gentle Dog Trainers share five questions that are especially important to ask if you're preparing to adopt a dog at Christmas.

As we enter a new year and a new phase in all of our lives, adopting a dog seems like a step towards the future we really want.

And why not? Dogs are wonderful. They are known to help with stress levels, improve your child’s development, and overall, make your family life a little brighter. 

But are you really ready to adopt a dog? Are you ready for the investment, the training, and the good times with the bad? Ask yourself these five questions to find out if adopting a dog is a good idea for your family. 

1. Are you adopting for the right reasons?

So, we mentioned some of the amazing things dogs are known to do. Your dog could be your new running partner, best friend, and great teacher. They can provide structure through daily routines. They can teach your kids to be more responsible and improve their mental health as they grow up.

However, those shouldn’t be the core reasons why you adopt a dog. It being the holidays is not a good reason either. 

Just like you wouldn’t have a baby just for companionship, you wanting to have a dog has to come from a place of love and care. Adopting a dog is a grand responsibility. You need to be there for your dog through the ups and the downs, the triumphs and the ailments. 

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas!

2. Do you have the time for a dog in your life? 

All of the wonderful things about a dog are also the things that make them incredibly time-consuming. They are clingy, attention-seeking, and needy. In the same breath, they are loving, affectionate, and cuddly. 

Walking, feeding, grooming, bathing, training and playing are all key parts of a dog owner’s daily life. Whilst your family may share the time spent with your dog, it is still a significant part of your day. If you are feeling stretched for quality me-time as it is, a dog may not be for you. If you have lots of energy still and can see where a dog will harmoniously fit into your family life, go for it!

3. Do you feel comfortable training a dog?

New dog owners can often be a little coy when it comes to training. It feels strange to tell your dog what to do for the first time. Conflicting advice online can also be daunting. 

Despite that, you must overcome any fears you have about training your dog, as this is a key part of integrating them into your family. 

4. Can you afford a dog?

Let’s be honest. Dogs are definitely a significant investment in your family’s budget. There are vet bills, insurance, toys, food, beds, training gear and so much more to account for. 

That’s not to say you need the premium product of each toy brand or the luxury brand of kibble, but any quality of dog care products will add up substantially. 

The best thing to do when looking to adopt a dog is to sit down and calculate the projected costs. Can you afford this in your family’s monthly budget? Use informative websites like this one that review a number of different dog-related products and the associated costs. 

5. What kind of dog will suit your family life? 

If you know you are adopting a dog for the right reasons, have ample time, can train effectively, and can afford the added expenses comfortably, you can start to review the type of dog that may suit you. 

If you are a keen runner, then you will love an active dog with high energy levels. Retired greyhounds are excellent adoptees and will put you through your paces – literally! 

If you have young children then you’ll be looking for a dog with experience with children. A gentle, loyal, affectionate temperament would be perfect for you. 

When you are ready to adopt a dog, we advise you to visit a local shelter and let them know the ins and outs of your lifestyle. They can then match you with a dog or puppy that is right for your family. 

So, is adopting a dog right for you?

Only you can truly know the answer, but the fact you are researching by reading this article is a great first step. Speak to your family and discuss these five questions openly. We hope you come to the decision that is right for you and your family.

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