A checklist to consider before you get your first dog.
Before we dive into our first-dog checklist let me guess how you must be feeling. Aren’t you super excited over buying/adopting your first pup? I totally get the feeling of the butterflies fluttering in your belly! How beautiful and perfect is life now going to be with a little warm pooch of your very own! You’ll no more just have to pet the cute pooches of passers-by. Followed by the age-old sigh, “if only I could have one of my own!” You have finally decided to end that longing and are feeling totally pumped up in anticipation. You’re just crossing the dates on the calendar, dreaming about the cuddles you would be sharing with your first ever, very own, live fur ball!
Everything seems perfect now, but in order to ensure that this perfection doesn’t cease with time, I have a first-dog checklist. Which will make sure you know that you are making the best decision for yourself and your baby. Please take time to thoroughly check the below mentioned pointers. Because it often happens, where the initial euphoria clashes with people’s ability to practically plan for a long term. Which unfortunately results in a lot of chaos and unpleasant, if not detrimental consequences, soon after or in the long run. After all this baby is no different than a human one, his life is totally dependent on you. In fact a human baby can sustain himself after a certain age. But this fur kid is going to be entirely dependent on you throughout his entire life.
Needless to say it’s very important to ensure that you actually are going to be there for him for the next 15 years (on an average). And not end up giving him away once you realize you aren’t as ready as you had expected yourself to be. Which would be something devastating for the emotional health of a dog. As he just wouldn’t understand what he did wrong to have been abandoned forever by his family.
THE FIRST-DOG CHECKLIST:
ARE YOU FINANCIALLY STABLE?
General costs of living:
- The most important check box in our first-dog checklist would undoubtedly be finance. You need to be financially stable in order to afford proper nourishment, a variety of accessories, dog sitting/boarding facilities, training and medical care for your pup. There is going to be a good amount of expense involved and the list won’t probably be as short as you might expect. Once you get a pup there is going to follow quite a lot of routine vaccination and de-worming sessions for the first year and boosters for the rest. Little pups have little immunity, which may require frequent vet visits as well due to petty issues like a cold or an upset stomach. As it grows stronger these visits lessen in frequency saving you the consultation fees and medication costs over time.
- According to a report from moneyunder30.com, the total first-year cost of having a dog is $1,270. For another detailed estimate of the monthly/annual cost of a dog (according to rover.com), I have added a link below. Please keep in mind that this is just a general estimate. Hence, it varies largely based on your location, lifestyle and availability/quality of services. Check it out here.
- Also another advice would be to always have some saving handy, in case there arises some urgency due to any unforeseen mishap/accident. Also once your pup advances to a senior dog, you should again expect a rise in the vet visits for various age related ailments that follow. Please don’t be worried because not necessarily does every pet parent have to deal with everything above. So many pups hardly suffer from any serious health issue throughout their lives. Be it the puppy phase or the senior stage, specially if they are bred responsibly by a reputed breeder and lead a healthy lifestyle. But because you cannot foresee the future, being prepared for anything is the best approach.
WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO SPEND TIME WITH YOUR POOCH?
Why is it important?
- Your availability at home is another very essential element that is often not paid enough attention to. Dogs are very social creatures. Of course the degree varies according to the breed you choose to bring home. But irrespective of it every dog needs it’s parent or at least one of the members to be present in the house most of the time. An occasional staying alone at home is fine, but if it is something that is going to happen every single day, for extensive hours, you do have a reason to worry.
What happens otherwise?
- If you’re planning to leave your dog alone, for hours at a stretch daily, you better seriously reconsider your decision. It is because dogs can have very bad ‘separation anxiety‘! Yes, the level varies as per the breed or the temperament of the particular dog but they are all bound to experience some or the other form of depression at some point of time. And dogs do not cry in a corner like humans if they are upset. Instead they’ll bark for hours at a stretch, making your neighbors turn bitter to you and/or they’ll get destructive. Shredding paper and tearing cloths, damaging your furniture and digging up your mattresses would then become everyday annoyances.
The psychology behind it:
- And you won’t really be able to blame them, because that is how canines relieve themselves of the anxiety/stress, caused by the fear of your abandoning them. Yes, dogs get really worried every time they see you going out the door leaving them all alone. Their world revolves around you and their biggest fear is being left alone or worse abandoned.
WOULD YOU BE LEFT WITH THE ENERGY REQUIRED TO TAKE PROPER CARE OF YOUR PUP AFTER WORK?
- Your willingness and effort to maintain a healthy routine for them is equally important. You need to allot a specific time daily to take them out to relieve themselves, so they don’t have accidents indoor. Also a walk or a run or a little game of fetch every day requires time and effort on your part. You need to feed them at regular intervals too, which again requires dedication of time. Dogs don’t understand our language but they grasp the concept of habituation very well. Once you designate a particular time for their meals, relieving of bowel and bladder, and play they will set themselves up smoothly in accordance to this routine. And all this without any need of formal training, making both your lives so much easier. Consistency is all it’s going to take.
HOW FREQUENTLY DO YOU NEED/LIKE TO TRAVEL?
- Another major consideration should be the frequency of your travels. If you need to travel frequently for work, you should make sure that you have a family member staying together. Someone who is not only enthusiastic but also dependable enough to take care of your precious baby while you are away. In case you choose to opt for professional pet sitters, you’ll first need to thoroughly investigate their trustworthiness, which unfortunately is easier said than done.
Dog boarding/ Kennels:
- Also the popular dog boarding/kennels are not a very dependable option either. Less because of the finances involved and much more due to the availability or quality of care. Want to know the lesser known hazards associated to these places (from fetchpetcare.com)? Read it here. I have also linked an account of the experience of a couple (from whoadoggy.com) who had to put their dog in a boarding in Decatur, Georgia for the first and last time. If interested, read it here.
DO YOU OWN YOUR HOUSE?
- Yet another thing to consider would be the ownership of your accommodation. If you own a house it’s going to be much easier as compared to it’s rented counterpart. Because otherwise you will be compelled to act as per the preferences of the owner, who mostly aren’t dog-friendly. Specially, if your job requires you to transfer at regular intervals, this would be something you will have to deal with every time you relocate.
WHAT’S UP WITH YOUR MARITAL STATUS/PLANS?
- And lastly, are you likely to get married anytime after you decide to bring in your fur-baby? Do think beforehand of the consequences, in case your spouse turns out to be adverse to dogs! Also even if not initially, after you have your first human baby, they may still suddenly change stance! Discuss these things well in advance.
Your first-dog checklist all marked? Now that you have a thorough understanding of the basic prerequisites, none but you yourself are the best judge to decide if this is the best time to get yourself your first furry bundle of joy. Please take time and make your decision carefully and wisely. If you feel you are all set, just go ahead and leap in to enjoy the most ‘paw’some experience of a lifetime! If not, wait a little longer preparing yourself, to be blessed as soon as the time is ripe. Because a dog is a lifelong commitment and we can’t risk pampering them with anything short of the absolute best! Can we?
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