10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Dog
Updated: Feb 26, 2022
During lockdown in the UK, a staggering 3.2 million households added a new furry friend to their families. If you are here reading this post, then the chances are, you are pretty serious about a new fluffy addition to yours, but are you ready?
Getting a new dog is a really exciting time for everyone, and there are some very important considerations before you commit. Asides from your shopping list (who doesn’t love a bit of shopping), there are some serious choices to make, to set yourself up for success.
With a steep rise in pet ownership, dog rehoming charities across the country are reporting a huge increase in people looking for help to rehome their new dogs. Up to 5% of lockdown pets have already been given up. Translated into real numbers that is up to 160,000 pets looking for new homes. To make sure you are ready for your new furry friend we have put together our Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Committing to a New Dog.
Adopt don’t Shop
Breeder or rescue? While the thought of a new tiny puppy is super adorable, there are thousands of dogs, in need of homes across the UK. Rescue charities are calling out for new homes! We talk about what to expect from a new puppy later on in this post, but you can skip all of the potty training and puppy destruction by adopting a young dog who has already learned how to live harmoniously in your house.
The average life expectancy of a dog is 13 years, so you need to be in it for the long haul from the start. Adopting a 2 to 3-year-old dog still gives you plenty of time together with your new dog. Best of all… You will be giving a second chance to a dog who has been abandoned. Some rescues rehome puppies, so if you are absolutely sure you want a young little cutie pie running around your house, then have a look into puppy adoptions. Rehoming fees usually get higher the younger the dog is, but adoption and rehoming fees are a lot less than the cost of a new puppy from a breeder.
Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle
A dog is a dog, right? Nope…There is a massive difference between a Pug and a Doberman, and all of the other breeds in between. Think realistically about what you want your new furry friend to do with you.
Are you planning on massive weekend-long adventures and taking your new pal out on your daily runs with you? Or are looking for a little floofball who will happily Pupflix & Chill with you every night and be contented with a quick stroll around the neighbourhood? Be realistic with your expectations.
The breed of dog you end up choosing should depend on your house. Some breeds are perfect for small flats, other breeds need a lot of space both indoors and outside.
Get your research right, and you and your little doggy will be a perfect match.
Get ready to have even less time on your hands
Dogs are time-consuming! That's a fact. Just when you think you have gotten on top of everything, you will look down and see your little best friend by your feet, reminding you it’s time for walkies, time for dinner, time for zoomies, time to clean up after them or they just want entertaining!
Have you got time to sacrifice? Two Walks a day, meal times, outside for toilet breaks, entertaining a bored puppy & playing games. Much like a small child, they will become the centre of your attention. But the rewards are great, your furry best friend will love you unconditionally, you will become their whole world.
Get ready to have less money too!
The average cost of a new puppy in the UK is a whopping £1,875! When did puppies get so expensive! Of course, there is a lot of variables in that figure and different breeds come with different price tags. This average cost takes into account their vaccinations, microchipping and all of your set-up costs. As we mentioned earlier in the post, it’s often much cheaper to adopt through a registered dog rescue charity. An average dog adoption costs anywhere between £200 to £500. Rescue dogs almost always have vaccinations, microchipping, neutering/spaying and other initial costs all taken care of. A lot of dog rescue charities also offer a month or two of pet insurance with your adoption, so it’s worth asking about this when you are enquiring.
But the costs don’t end there! Vet bills, food, toys, treats & much more, your dog will find new ways of getting you to spend more money. Let’s move on to the next point and talk more about vets and insurance.
Healthcare & Vets
The cost of health care, vets and insurance vary greatly, depending on the breed you go for. Some breeds are known for costing a fortune! French bulldogs, for example, have a lot of very common health conditions. You can hope and pray that your dog won’t experience any of them, but some are very common and will need a trip to the vets. You pop into the vets for a quick check up because your best friend has been itchier than normal, and before you know it, you’re walking out of there with a £150 bill and 7 days of medicine.
Even treatments and surgery costs vary depending on the size and weight of your dog, so if you are starting out trying to keep costs down, then generally a smaller dog will cost you less.
How much do they need?
We touched on this earlier when we talked about choosing the right breed for you, and you can find out more about how much exercise your new dog needs in our upcoming blog post about exercising your dog, subscribe to our blog to get alerted when new posts come up.
Be realistic when it comes to walkies. a ten-minute stroll is more than enough for some breeds, such as pugs, frenchies and other little lazy dogs. But it won’t be anywhere near enough for bigger breeds such as labradors, beagles or dobermans. An under exercised dog can lead to problems at home, destructive behaviour and weight/health issues.
Your new dog will quickly tell you what’s right for them. There’s nothing more satisfying than a contented dog having a cosy nap after a nice long walk! If you get home and they are still full of energy then you may need to make your walkies a lot longer.
Dogs & Kids
The fairy tale idea of handing your little prince or princess a box and the cutest little puppy pokes its head out is just dreamy, but totally unrealistic. What if they don’t get on?
It is really important to include your children in the selection process. When you go to visit a dog, at the rescue centre or at the breeders, take your kids with you, and watch how they interact. A huge number of the dogs given up to rescues, are handed over because of disharmony in the house or showing aggression towards the kids. Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to make this choice. Start out with a plan, and take each step slowly. Make sure your children are comfortable around the little pup, and vice versa. If you get this right, the dog will become their childhood best friend.
Your House/expect accidents
When you first get a new doggy, the thought of cleaning up accidents and mess will gross you out, that’s guaranteed! You will soon desensitise to all of that, but what won’t change is the damage it could cause to your beautiful carpets and sofa. Make sure you are ready to do more cleaning. Invest in a carpet and upholstery washer, get yourself a new pet hair vacuum. We are not saying that your house will be totally destroyed. Some dogs learn really quickly and take to going outside, as if they have always known how. But some others may take a while, and patience and kindness go a long way in this process. Again, it comes down to the breed you choose. Some are fast learners and instinctively very clean and tidy. Others are not. Whichever breed you go for, you should mentally prepare yourself for some broken, ruined or destroyed things in your house.
Dog training is not just for naughty dogs. Start them off early and you will raise an angel. Teaching your munchkin new skills is important in many ways. From dog socialisation to being able to walk off the lead, all of the training foundations are laid in their early years. You don’t want to end up with a yappy dog, or a bad boy that runs away when they are let off the lead. Being able to chat with other dog owners when you're out on walks, without your little angel turning into a terror comes as a result of teaching your dog great socialisation skills from the very beginning.
It is never too late to teach and old dog new tricks. If you go about it the right way, there is always a way to change a disruptive behaviour. Search for local trainers in your area who have got great reviews, and get your new dog started as soon as you can.
Part of your family
Your new dog is part of your family! This is going to be an amazing time full of wonderful experiences and happy memories. Get ready for your new dog to steal everyone's hearts!
Are you ready to get a new dog? share your comments, questions and suggestions below and start chatting with our community.