Having a furry friend in the family can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Whether you're a family of one or have a full brood, dogs provide us with companionship, friendship and unconditional love. So, if you're toying with the idea of bringing a four legged friend into your life, here are a few things to consider.
#1 - Why do I want a dog in my life now?
There are so many reasons people make the decision to bring a dog into their life. Whether it's as a playmate for the kids, a companion for those who live alone, or a reason to get out and get healthy. Regardless, it's important to choose just the right pooch for your world. You might decide that you really do want a puppy but you might also consider a rescue dog, adopting an older pooch or even fostering a pup who will one day make a great service dog. Giving consideration to the Why will really help you make some good choices.
#2 - Do I live in an apartment, house, farm?
Although the exact number of dog breeds is hard to pin down, research suggests there are around 339 different dog breeds (Federation Cynologique Internationale, FCI)1. This number is then divided into 10 groups and categorised according to purpose, function, appearance and size. These are listed according to the FCI as 1. Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs - Herding dogs; 2. Pinscher and Schnauzer ( Molossoid Breeds - known as Mastiffs); 3. Terriers; 4. Dachshunds; 5. Spitz and Primitive types; 6. Scent-hounds and related breeds; 7. Pointers and Setters; 8. Retrievers - Water Dogs; 9. Companion and Toy Dogs; 10. Sighthounds. 2.
Depending on your lifestyle, the first thing you'll consider is size. What can your home realistically accommodate? Do you have enough outdoor space or are you limited to a balcony? Although seemingly obvious, once size is coupled with required exercise of your chosen breed, you might rethink your choice. Find out as much as you can so there are no surprises.
#3 - Who will be responsible for feeding, walking, training, caring for pooch?
Dogs require a lot of energy and work. Spending quality time with pooch is extremely important and this needs to be for life not just when they're cute and puppy-like. Life is busy and sometimes we get caught up and prioritise everything but our dog. Dogs are just like us and need human contact. This is a non-negotiable if you want a healthy happy family member. Remember, this is a 12-16 year journey.
#4 - What's your budget?
The initial financial outlay will vary from $0 - $4000 depending on whether you adopt, foster or buy a pup. Some pure breeds will fetch a fair price while rescuing a dog is substantially less. Post purchase, there will be ongoing costs. Obviously, there will be vet bills, doggie gear, toys and bedding but the daily cost of feeding will also need to be considered. Once again, depending on the size of your new pal, feed costs will vary. Consider the daily feed of a great dane compared to a chihuahua and match your budget accordingly.
#5 - Do I have all the information I need?
Having a new family member is really exciting and will provide years and years of companionship and fun. Take your time in deciding which breed best suits you and your lifestyle. The more information you have before you take the plunge, the better equiped you'll be to make the right choice. Good luck and enjoy the journey!
1 ,2 Coren Stanley PhD.,Dsc, FRSC Extract from Psychologygtoday.com, How Many Breeds of Dogs are there in the World, Federation Cynologique Internationale, FCI.
All opinions, advice and observations are my own and based on my work as a teacher, facilitator, community development manager and owner and friend to Pixie, Sulu, Woody, Max and Daphne over a lifetime.