For Tennessee residents, having a dog can be one of the great joys in life but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. If your family is considering getting a dog, there are many things to consider in order to make the best choice. Here are a six things you should do before making the leap:
- Do your research: Having a good experience with a pet depends on finding a breed that fits your family’s personality and lifestyle. Some dogs require a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy; others need plenty of quality time with their owners. Consider your family’s level of activity, work schedule and other factors when selecting a breed that’s right for you.
- Make a commitment: Taking care of an animal is like showering: you have to do it pretty much every single day. If you’re not ready for a serious investment of time and energy, spare yourself–and the dog–by not getting an animal until you’re prepared to make that commitment.
- Train the whole family: Just as with kids, your dog will have a hard time if he isn’t getting consistency when it comes to training and discipline. Maximize your dog’s potential by learning a thing or two about how to raise and socialize a calm and happy animal; then make the effort to teach everyone in the family how to participate.
- Have a budget: Not only do pets require time and energy but, just like children, they cost money–sometimes a lot. Take into account up front costs like spay and neuter procedures, vaccines and supplies, such as a crate, leashes or training programs; as well as annual costs for food, checkups, and licenses.
- Make sure everyone’s on board: Are all members of the family excited about the idea of having a dog? Does anyone have allergies that will make it difficult for him or her to live with a pet? Be sure that all family members are excited about the idea of a new puppy and willing to participate in its care.
- Buy pet insurance: Pet insurance policies are a lot like human health insurance policies. Choose from comprehensive coverage, major medical, wellness, or some combination of the three. Depending on your plan, pet insurance may cover vet bills, accident or injury, vaccinations, and preventative services.
For most dog owners, the time, money and energy it takes to care for a pet are well worth it. But getting a pet when it isn’t right for you can result in serious heartache and a traumatic experience for both dog and human. Make sure the timing and conditions are right before going to find your new best friend.