This is a big decision to make and one that takes a lot of careful consideration. Unlike other purchases we make, dogs should never be an impulse buy, as introducing a dog into a home will change the dynamics of that home unlike almost anything else you acquire. So let’s look at some of the homework you need to do before “pressing the button” and getting a dog:
•What breed will likely work best for you? The size of dog you want may be determined by the size of home you have, how physically active you are now and over the next 10-14 years and whether you have young children. As a general rule, the bigger the dog the more food he/she will eat. Can you afford to buy the amount of food a larger dog needs? Are you OK with a dog that sheds (the majority) or do you need a non-shedding breed?
•Where to get a dog? You can acquire a dog from an animal rescue organization, a breeder or from a friend/colleague. Some pet stores will sell dogs but be wary of stores selling dogs raised in puppy mills. So what are the pros and cons of these alternatives:
•Rescues: you are giving the dog a second chance at life but you can’t guarantee knowing all the history of the dog. Gather as much information about the rescue organization and the history of the dog as possible. Is the rescue dog current with it’s shots? Has the dog been spayed/ neutered? Are there any physical or psychological issues that you need to be aware of? What is the position of the rescue organisation if the dog does not work out for your family? Generally, rescue dogs are cheaper to buy than going to a breeder
•Breeders: check out the breeder’s facility so you can assess whether the dogs are being treated well or not. A good breeder will ask you a comprehensive list of questions regarding your life style and preferences in a dog, so they can match your personality with that of the puppy. If such questions are not asked by the breeder, find another breeder! As breeders specialize in certain breeds, they should be experts in that particular breed, so question them in depth before deciding. Generally buying a puppy from a breeder is more expensive than other alternatives.
•Friends/ colleagues: understand why the dog has become available, what health issues the dog may have and is the dog current with appropriate shots. Don’t buy from a friend because he or she is a friend, buy the dog because it fits your lifestyle and budget.
•If you already have a dog at home, it is always a good idea to have your current dog meet the dog you are thinking of buying to see if there are any negative issues between the two of them.
Dogs can be amazing additions to a home but make sure you can afford to raise them properly. Prepare a budget ahead of time for food, supplies, insurance coverage (optional) and veterinarian bills. Buyer beware!