If you fall for a little puppy or cute dog from an animal shelter, the future suddenly looks rosy. It's obvious that a canine friend will bring plenty of joy, but you should also familiarise yourself with the demanding aspects of dog ownership before choosing life with a four-legged companion.
10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Dog
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Decision for many years
Unfortunately, full animal shelters demonstrate that dog owners often haven't given enough thought to taking a companion into their home, because adopting a dog comes with decades of responsibility. Large dogs can live to the age of 12 years or more and small breeds live even longer. Consider whether you can allow yourself the financial and time commitment for such a long period.
Obviously nothing in life is certain: there can be unexpected events like a divorce or illness that make giving up a dog a necessity. However, you should factor in beforehand what is foreseeable.
A question of money
Many dog lovers may think “a bit of dog food can't be that expensive” before buying a puppy. It makes sense though to estimate costs before deciding to buy a dog. This doesn't just include the costs for basic equipment, but the purchase price too. If you're buying reputably from an animal shelter or breeder, you'll have to spend at least a few hundred euros. A high-quality, protein-rich dog food for a large-breed dog can end up being a significant amount on a monthly basis. Look at the manufacturer's feeding recommendations beforehand and calculate the approximate costs.
Trips to the vet, dog tax and liability insurance are also part of life with a dog. At the start, it's recommended to attend puppy play sessions and a dog school, which also involves three-figure amounts.
Last but not least, you should have savings should your dog fall ill: veterinary costs can be very expensive – both with chronic and acute illnesses. Although love of animals isn't a matter of money, responsible pet ownership does involve financial planning.
Landlords and neighbours
If you rent, you need written consent from your landlord before you can take a dog into your home. Otherwise, the landlord can insist on your dog leaving. If you don't comply, you run the risk of being evicted.
Many contracts come with the condition that your dog is not allowed to disturb other tenants. Be considerate and don't let your dog urinate on the property, always keep it on a short lead in communal stairwells and make sure that it doesn't start yapping. This way you avoid possible conflicts and make living together more relaxed. It's important for owners too to accept that not all neighbours are fans of dogs. Take this into consideration so that you and your neighbours feel at ease.
Not every dog is right for every dog lover
Before taking on a dog, consider what breed or what type of dog is a good fit for you and your lifestyle. Border Collies are wonderful, but you shouldn't get one if you don't have any herds of sheep or plenty of time for shared activities.
On the other hand, you shouldn't necessarily choose a Pug if you enjoy going on long hikes. A lot of time for grooming is required with many dog breeds, such as the Old English Sheepdog.
Hunting dogs like the Weimaraner or Münsterländer are happiest with hunters – it's difficult for them to live purely as family dogs. Some dog breeds are better suited for beginners than others. Do in-depth research and don't underestimate the need for exercise and activity of working dogs.
Hair and hygiene
A cuddly puppy is undoubtedly cute, but many dog owners are surprised by how much hair can result from owning a dog.
Fine dog hairs are found on clothes, the sofa and the carpet. Some dog owners quickly reject black corduroy or velvet clothing. Buy good lint brushes and a hoover specially designed for pet hair. Brush your dog on a daily basis during the moulting phase in order to reduce the amount of fur in your home – however, you will never be entirely fur-free in future.
If you share your home with Poodles or other dogs that barely moult, they will hardly leave behind any fur but the same applies as with all dogs and they bring more dirt into your home. If you have real cleaning mania, you should seriously consider whether you can cope with this in the long term.
Holidays will be different
A spontaneous weekend trip to Paris or a three-week tour of the US? There'll be something else for you to think about before commencing a trip like this once you have a dog.
You can count yourself lucky if you have family members close by who know your dog and can put it up without any problems. However, boarding kennels are often required. On one hand, this isn't cheap, and on the other many dog owners suffer from a guilty conscience during their holiday, because their canine companion is putting up with the kennels whilst they are sipping a cocktail on the beach.
Hence, before taking a dog into your home, give some thought to possible holiday care provision options available to you. It's recommended to organise a trial stay in the kennels of your choice ahead of your holiday. Although normal prices usually apply, many owners think it's worth having a clear conscience during their holiday. This allows you to test whether your dog feels at ease.
Some dog owners also like to take their dog with them on holiday. Trips with a caravan or mobile home are particularly suitable, although many hotels also welcome well-trained dogs.
Dogs are pack animals and therefore don't like being alone. An adult dog can spend some time on its own if you slowly get it used to this, although it shouldn't be left on its own for more than four to five hours per day.
So if you study, are looking for work or are on parental leave, you should give things some thought in advance if you're planning on going to work for longer than a half day in future.
Boarding kennels or family members living close by who already know your dog could be an alternative. Only few employers allow dogs in the workplace.
Small dogs grow bigger
Every dog owner should know that puppies turn into larger dogs at some point. However, this doesn't always seem to be the case. There's no other way to explain how some owners are full of joy when their cuddly little puppy jumps up to greet them, because in a few months a dog weighing 4kg will be five times as heavy and will still jump up at people in a friendly manner even with muddy paws – this is less likely to cheer them up.
Other issues such as sleeping on the bed, begging at the table, barking or spending time alone should also be steered in the right direction as early as the puppy phase and trained accordingly. If you live in a multi-family household, it's important that everyone shows a united front.
Outside we go – in the wind and rain!
A sunny dog walk is a pleasant experience! Your future family member doesn't take weather conditions into consideration though.
If a dog lives in your home, you're obliged to take it on several walks each day – in the wind and rain and the snow and ice. Some breeds don't like to be outside much at all in bad weather, but most insist on long walks. This creates extra work at home too: you should dry your dog before it gets cosy with you on the sofa.
And yes, going for walks is part of weekend mornings too: you will often have to leave your snuggly bed to trudge through the wind and rain with your dog. On the other hand, this allows you to have lots of wonderful moments in the great outdoors that are only possible for dog owners.
Day-to-day dog dirt
On the subject of the great outdoors, this is where your dog will do its business. If it does so on paths or public green spaces, you're obliged to remove its faeces. Many cities provide poo bag dispensers for this purpose – always keep a small bag at hand if you're out on public paths.
However, fields, meadows or side streets shouldn't turn into danger areas either. Particularly in fields, dog dirt can lead to big problems. For instance, if it ends up in hay for horses that then refuse to eat it. Make it a habit to pick up your dog's dirt wherever you go.
We can see that life with a dog involves some effort. But if you judge this correctly from the outset, you will gain a wonderful companion who will enrich your life immeasurably!