Thinking of getting a dog? Consider these things first before the big decision

Amanda T. Lago

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Thinking of getting a dog? Consider these things first before the big decision

Canine Behaviorist Gen Reyes

File photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

Step away from the puppy for a second and give these things some thought

MANILA, Philippines – Believe it or not, dogs aren’t for everyone. Yes, they’re cute and funny and they can instantly turn a bad day around. But they are also messy, rowdy, easily bored, and too clumsy for their own good. 

It takes an insane amount of time and effort to give a dog a happy life, but they deserve no less, and that’s something not everyone can commit to.

If you’re thinking of picking out a dog from a shelter or claiming a puppy your friend is giving away, take a step back and consider these:

Do you have the budget for it?

Apart from the initial cost (the price of a puppy or adoption fee), you’ll also be spending on food, vet bills, toys, grooming, transport, training, birthday cakes (hehe), and possibly even the cost of repairing things your dog has decided to turn into a chew toy. 

While some of these costs can be helped (because okay fine, your dog doesn’t really need that cute new doggie dress), others – like food and vet bills – are non-negotiables. And we’re not just talking one-time expenses. You’ll be spending on these things for the entirety of your dog’s life. That’s a good 10 to 15 years where you need to have a stable enough income to keep yourself AND your dog alive.

Do you live in a dog-friendly building and area?

Check with your landlord and building if they’re okay with pets – some allow only small animals, while others don’t allow any animals at all. Aside from that, you need to make sure your home itself is dog-friendly. Your pupper will need space to roam around, a dedicated potty area, and safety measures in place if there are danger zones like balconies. Also, you’ll need to live in an area where you can safely walk your dog (as in, proper sidewalks and no aggressive strays). Even better if you’re near a dog-friendly park or nature trail.

Are you okay with your space being invaded?

Speaking of dog-friendly spaces…with a dog around, you can’t be precious about how clean and well-designed your space is. No matter how well-trained your dog is, they will always find a way to make a mess. Their fur goes everywhere, and so do their pawprints. Most of them are clumsy AF too, which means a lot of your things will be knocked over. They’ll eat odd things and regurgitate them on your newly vacuumed carpet. Even the most potty-trained puppers will occasionally have accidents, and it might just happen on your bed. Most dog-owners have just learned to live with their homes and lives being a little (or a lot) messy.

Do you have enough time?

Feeding, grooming, walking, and potty breaks are surprisingly time-consuming – and those are just the very basics. If you factor in cuddling, training, playtime, and cleaning up after your pup, you’re looking at majority of your time spent on and with these creatures. If you have a demanding job or are dedicated to other hobbies, it may not be the best time for you to get a dog.

Are the people you live with fully on board?

If your housemates – whether they’re family, a romantic partner, or friends – are not as enthusiastic as you are about getting a dog, it could cause serious problems. Dogs can be VERY annoying, and it’s only bearable if you’re 100% in love with them. You wouldn’t want to have to choose between a friend, family member, or your new puppy. And yes, some people do eventually come around to pets, but you can’t always guarantee that’ll happen. Not everyone is a sucker for dogs’ googly eyes and silly smiles.

Are you physically ready?

Having a dog means you’ll have to go on at least one walk every day (sometimes more, depending on how active your dog is). It also means carrying them as needed, chasing after them if they’ve escaped the gate, holding them down for vet visits, and prying their jaws open if you’ve seen them eat something they shouldn’t have.

Of course, you can always choose your dog based on your own activity level – some breeds don’t require as much exercise, and naturally, the smaller dogs will be easier to handle. Either way, get ready to be less sedentary when you bring home your puppy. Not that that’s a bad thing – one of the benefits of getting a dog is having another reason to get some exercise in.

Do you travel a lot?

It’s a pandemic so people aren’t traveling as much these days, but if you have big plans of traveling in the next decade or so, it may not be the best time to get a dog. Bringing a pet on a plane is very complicated, and road trips are limited to accommodations that allow pets (and there aren’t many). That’s not to say that you can’t travel at all if you have a dog, but you’ll have to make big adjustments and most likely shell out more money – whether that’s on pet-friendly hotels, traveling by sea instead of by plane, or pet boarding for your dog to stay in while you’re away.

If you want to get a better feel for what it’s like to have a dog, maybe babysit a friend’s doggo for a week, or sign up to foster a rescue dog. This is a good way to “try out” the experience, without making that huge commitment just yet. 

You could also opt to get another kind of pet – cats are more low-maintenance but come with their own challenges, so maybe a fish or a hamster?

Ultimately, if there’s any part of you that is hesitant to commit to a dog, listen to it. Just because you don’t get a dog now doesn’t mean you can’t get one when your situation and lifestyle are better suited to it. And in the meantime…the internet has endless dog content for you to binge on. The great thing about dogs is you don’t need to own them for them to make you smile. –

Save on pet essentials from Lazada by using these voucher codes!

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.