You’re thinking about getting a dog. But, at the same time, you’re wondering whether you’re ready. There are many things to consider when deciding whether it’s the right time to get a canine best friend.

Be honest with yourself. Determining whether you’re ready for the commitment of a dog requires looking at your life and answering the following questions.

Questions to consider when deciding if you’re ready for a dog:

  1. Do you have time for a dog? A dog requires a substantial time commitment. Your pup will need to be exercised, fed, trained, groomed and socialized. And you’ll need to spend some down-time bonding with him. This will be a minimum of two hours a day, not including the time spent socializing with your dog.
  2. Do you have the patience for a dog? In addition to time, dogs require a lot of patience. After all, they’re living beings with feelings. And each has his own needs and wants. Can you remain calm with your dog if he pees on the carpet or destroys one of your shoes? Can you keep a positive attitude even if there seem to setbacks in training? Can you suppress annoyance at little irritations and not raise your voice at your dog?
  3. Can you afford a dog? It’s expensive to properly care for a dog. The average cost to properly caring for a dog can run from $50 to $100 or more a month. This does not include any big medical expenses. A canine companion requires:
  • Healthy, quality food and treats
  • Veterinary care
  • Equipment like a collar, harness and leash
  • Identification tags
  • Microchip
  • A crate
  • A bed
  • Dishes
  • Toys
  • Chews
  • Puppy gates
  • Cleaning equipment and solutions
  • Poop bags
  • Grooming
  • A fence or other safe containment
  • Training
  • Daycare (possibly)
  • Boarding (possibly)
  • Pet sitter (possibly)
  1. Have your resident family members and roommates agreed to having a dog? Everyone who you’re living with should agree to having the dog and caring for the dog. After all, a dog is a family member who needs care from and to be safe with everyone.
  2. Have you researched the type of dog appropriate for you? Seeing an adorable dog in a television commercial or in a movie isn’t a reason to get that type of canine. Research the breeds and mixes that you’re considering.

Some dogs have higher grooming requirements or exercise needs than others do. You should be able to meet your new dog’s needs not just love his appearance. Match how active you are, how social you are, how much space you have and if there are children in the household with the dog that best fits those needs.

  1. Are you willing to learn about everything you’ll need to care for your dog? To properly care for your canine companion, learn as much as you can. This includes being informed about canine body language, nutrition, grooming, training (including housetraining) and exercise needs. Dog health, nutrition, training and grooming information changes all the time, so you need to stay informed.
  2. Are you ready to deal with dog hair, dog poop and the less pleasant parts of having a dog? There are many fun aspects of having a dog. Taking him out to meet your friends, playing with him and just being amused by his funny antics are great.

Cleaning up hair from your clothes, vacuuming and scooping poop aren’t enjoyable. But they’re part of the canine care package when you live with a dog.

  1. Are your living conditions right for a dog? You need to determine whether you’re permitted to have a dog at your residence.

Some leases don’t allow dogs at all. Others may not allow dogs over a certain size or certain breeds. You also need to determine whether your town, city or state prohibits certain breeds.

Depending on the breed or mix you get, you may also need a large living space and even a fenced yard. Yorkshire Terriers or Shih Tzus don’t require much space or activity, but a Border Collie will need more room and exercise.

  1. Do you have plans for your new dog’s care? This includes who will take care of him when you can’t during the day or on vacations.

Before acquiring your new canine best friend, it’s best to have the proper people lined up who you’ll need for his care. Do your research in choosing the best caregivers. This includes:

  • Friends or family who are willing and able to care for your dog
  • Veterinarians
  • Pet sitters
  • Daycares
  • Dog trainers
  • Boarding facilities
  • Groomers

Getting a new dog is so exciting. But you want to be sure that the dog is  right for you and that you can meet his needs. The research you do and effort you make beforehand will be worthwhile.

Even if this isn’t the right time for a dog to be in your life, you’ll have made a sound decision. And, if it’s really meant to be, you’ll know what’s required to properly care for a dog in the future.