Dogs make homes better in various ways. Canines can give you fun company and unconditional love and promote good health by easing stress and boosting your fitness. Kids who grow up around them tend to feel more compassion, have higher self-esteem, and be responsible.
Pet ownership is all about readiness. Good timing will mitigate the challenges of being a puppy parent and increase the chances of healthy dog development. How do you know your family is ready for a pup? Here are five signs.
1. You Have Space
The Animal Welfare Act provides calculations to help you determine whether your home is big enough for a dog. You must know your puppy’s likely adult length to use them.
Unless your pet has opportunities to exercise outside of your home, you must double its minimum floor space requirement to give it adequate room to be physically active. Smaller breeds may suit you if you live in an apartment because they can be happy with regular walks.
Moreover, canines can be clingy. Your pup may follow you into the bathroom and sleep in your bed. You can use enclosures to designate specific areas off-limits, but expect your dog to share your space when possible.
2. You Have a Stable Routine
Moving, having a baby, dealing with a health problem and starting a new job are major life changes that will affect your ability to care for your furry friend.
If your current lifestyle remains the same in the foreseeable future, you can properly adjust your daily routine to your newest family member.
3. You Have Enough Earnings
Owning a puppy can be a significant expense. Caring for a medium-sized dog with a 13-year life expectancy can cost around $15,000, and you should budget for the following:
- Veterinary care
Your annual cost will be higher if you use dog day care and pet kenneling services at least once a year. Responsible puppy ownership may require certain home features like pet doors, yard and pool fences, and childproofed cabinets. Retrofitting your house for a pet will cost money.
Your pup needs an emergency fund, too. If something happens, you should set aside thousands of dollars to afford your little companion’s urgent care needs.
Likewise, an eight-week-old puppy can spend time with a professional trainer to build better behavior. They can help prevent pets from damaging your property — like chewing on furniture and floor coverings — when bored.
Furthermore, the breed can determine a dog’s length of life span. Small pooches tend to live longer than their bigger counterparts, so you may spend more overall if you get a Maltese, a Pomeranian or a Chihuahua.
Regardless of what breed you welcome to your family, getting a puppy can be a longer financial commitment than an auto loan. You may be pup parent material if your income can absorb all dog ownership-related expenses.
4. You Have the Bandwidth
Caring for a puppy can be time-consuming and energy-intensive. Dogs undergo five stages of growth — neonatal, transitional, socialization, juvenile and adolescence. Here’s what happens to them in the first one and a half years:
- Neonatal: Puppies depend on their mother for nourishment in the first two weeks.
- Transitional: Their eyes and ears begin to open, and they start to have puppy teeth in two to four weeks. They learn to walk, bark and growl and express interest in using a bowl and eating solid foods.
- Socialization: Their senses fully develop, arousing their curiosity about their surroundings. They need deworming and vaccination to help keep them healthy as they explore their environment. Toys will enhance their mobility and coordination. This stage can last up to 12 weeks.
- Juvenile: They go through significant physical maturity between six and seven months. They exhibit boundary-pushing behavior, testing the limits of what they can do.
- Adolescence: They sexually mature up to their 18th month. Females feel their first heat cycle, whereas males lift their legs to pee.
As a pet parent, you must pay attention to your pup for it to grow into a healthy adult dog. They may experience developmental delays along the way, so you’ll need to pay attention to red flags — like being lethargic or having a reduced appetite — and consult a vet immediately. If you have the time, energy and patience to raise a puppy, you may be ready for this responsibility.
5. You Have a Support System
Attending to a dog’s unique needs is a multiperson job. You can be your pet’s primary caregiver, but you need backups when you’re unavailable.
Will other family members care for the pet when you get stuck in traffic or spend longer hours at work? Is there someone you trust who can feed and walk the dog when you get sick?
Can you hire a sitter or locally board your pet when you need to be away for an extended period? If you answer yes to all these questions, you may be ready for a pup.
Every Puppy Deserves a Dog-Ready Home
Adopting a pup is a noble undertaking. Every dog needs a loving home, but all hopeful pet parents should be realistic about their capacity to care for one.
If you have space, stability, money, time, energy, patience and a reliable support system, you can welcome a furry family member.