Dog care

12 questions to ask yourself before getting a dog

Are you ready to have a dog in your life? Before you say you are, here are some hard questions to ask yourself.

A dog is a 15-year commitment. This is a line that you’ve probably heard many times, but let me repeat it again, especially if you are considering getting one.

As a dog owner, I find it really perplexing when someone comes to me for rehoming advice. I know that life is full of uncertainties and shit does happen, making people think they have no option other than to give up their dog. However, I find that in many circumstances, people give up their dogs because they didn’t really prepare enough — physically, mentally, emotionally — to have one in the first place.

This is why I am writing this piece on how to determine if you’re indeed ready to have a dog in your life.  In answering these questions, think not only of the here and now, but also about the next 10 or so years.

If you are thinking about getting a dog, or know someone who is thinking about doing so, please take the time to ask yourself these questions. I hope this questionnaire comes in handy and helps you really think if you are indeed ready for all the life-changing things that come with dog ownership.

  • Are you ready to pick up your dog’s poop twice a day? Yes, you have to do this every single day. Even if your dog is potty trained, you can’t leave his poop lying around.
  • Are you ready for urine stains that can turn the grass brown? Urine can also stain carpets and rugs if your dog pees indoors because you have not potty-trained him. Male dogs, especially unneutered ones, have a tendency to mark some areas. Are you willing to make the time to potty train your dog?
  • Can you live with dog hair on furniture and clothes? Even supposedly non-shedding dogs will shed some hair.
  • Can you tolerate a dog’s incessant barking at odd hours? Some will bark more than others, and some neighbours might complain.
  • Are you ready to clean up dog vomit every so often? If you find everything disgusting, then you better not get a dog.
  • Are you ready to deal with ticks, fleas, and worms? Yes, you’ll have to treat your dog regularly to prevent ticks and fleas, as well as intestinal parasites. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with fleas in your house.
  • Are you ready to dog proof your house so your shoes and stuff won’t get chewed up? Dogs will eat assorted stuff including your AirPods, Gucci sneakers, and your homework if you’re not careful.
  • Are you allowed to own a dog in your condominium? Please don’t say you’ll smuggle in your dog. What will you do if you are caught?
  • Are your housemates willing to live with a dog? Let’s face it, everyone in your house will be living with this dog. What does your spouse think? What do your parents think? Will your househelp take care of the dog?
  • Are you willing to spend on dog food? Yes it is pricey. And yes you have to spend on vet bills, grooming, and other stuff.
  • Are you ready to regularly groom your dog? Your dog needs to have a bath, have its teeth cleaned, and have its nails cut. A groomer can do this for you, but you have to make time for it and spend on this. If you want a mini schnauzer, are you ready to spend more time on grooming? (My schnauzers get a daily brushing, but my aspins get away with zero brushing).
  • Who will help you in taking care of your dog? What will you do if that person leaves? I just hate it when people say they will give up their dog because their househelp is about to leave.

Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs, which is why I put up with all the inconveniences that come with having them. For instance, I have long accepted that I can’t have an immaculately clean house, nice furniture (we use plastic furniture, no kidding!), knick knacks, and a picture-perfect garden because I let my dogs roam about freely. I have also accepted that I have to deal with unexpected barking at odd hours, including at 5 am on weekends when all I ever want to do is sleep. Dog shit is part of my life (I tell myself I would rather deal with my dogs’ shit than the shit that people come up with), which is why I carry a poop bag all day. Having dogs also means making extra preparations when we have to be away from home. Last but not the least, I spend a handsome amount for the upkeep of my dogs (I own and buy nothing fancy).

My point in writing all this is that owning a dog is not just a commitment, but also a sacrifice. It’s not something you do to entertain your children, or to indulge a whim. It’s something you think about and plan for, as it will impact every aspect of your life.

If you’re not ready for for what pet ownership demands, please do the right thing and don’t buy a dog.

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