The Puppy Commitment

It’s love at first sight. You catch a glimpse of an eight-week-old furry puppy in the arms of a neighbor. He’s wagging his tail while playfully nibbling a finger or two, and suddenly he looks up at you. Your eyes meet, and he licks your hand. You want to grab him and take him home with you, and one thought enters your mind. “Am I ready for a puppy?”

When it comes to puppy ownership, there are many factors to consider. Some dogs can live up to 20 years, so it is critical that you are ready and able to offer a long-term commitment of time and love. Puppies can be very time-consuming, messy, hyper, and sometimes frustrating, so it is important that you have that time and patience to work with them. There are finances to consider such as healthcare, training, and supplies. Plus, you need to be certain that the pup will fit in with your lifestyle and your family.

“Bad behavior” is one of the top reasons that people surrender dogs at animal shelters. These pups have usually not been trained properly or their owners have not spent adequate time with them. This is why it is critical that you can dedicate your energies to your new pup. Plan on spending at least an hour in the early morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, and early evening with your pup, at the very minimum. This will ensure that the pup is eating regularly, getting the training that he needs, and getting the attention that he deserves at such a young age. If you are unable to spend even this much time with a puppy, it may be best to adopt an older dog or wait until you have more time. Another consideration would be to hire someone to come into your home while you are at work, or find a pet-friendly neighbor who may be interested in helping out.

Financially, you will need to pay for a series of vaccines every three to four weeks, fecal examinations (because a large number of puppies have intestinal parasites), and preventative treatments for heartworm and fleas. Also it is imperative that you plan for expenses related to spay and neuter surgery. Check with several veterinarians in your area for particular fees. In the event that unforeseen emergencies happen, it is a good idea to keep a savings for each pet or purchase pet insurance. Emergency surgeries, medications, and hospitalization fees can likely cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the emergency and the clinic. Be prepared for anything!

Finally, it is important that, as a new owner, you research particular breeds that interest you. All breeds are different. For instance, if you want a medium to large breed dog that is not very energetic, you may consider ruling out a Border Collie. And if you are looking for a smaller pet that doesn’t need much grooming, you will have to rule out that Maltese. If you are considering a mixed breed, look up information about the predominant breed in the dog. You can find breed books at pet stores and bookstores that will have plenty of information. You will need a dog that will fit your lifestyle. You should consider if the breed is adaptable to your living arrangements (do you have an apartment or a house?). Also, determine if a dog with a high activity level is compatible with your activity level. For instance, if you have limited mobility or just plain dislike long walks a Dalmatian is not a good match. A person with pet allergies should contact their doctor before getting a puppy, and be 100 percent certain that they are not allergic to the puppy that they are getting. Discuss with your family the pros and cons of introducing a puppy into the home: who will be the primary care giver, how will you divvy up responsibilities related to a puppy, do you all have adequate time to devote to it’s training and exercise? The whole family should agree that they are ready for a dog, and then meet the bundle of love. This is not the time for impulse shopping.

Talk to breeders, veterinarians, animal shelters, and consult breed books before choosing your puppy. When you bring your new pup home, you will be more confident and ready for your new companion.