If you've been lucky enough to own a dog, then you know what wonderful creatures they are. It's true what they say — "dogs are too pure for this world." But while there are many benefits associated with adding a furry companion to your life, it's a big step and there's a lot to consider. Whether you're thinking of becoming a first time dog owner or adding another furry friend to your pack, here are nine signs you're not ready for a dog, according to experts.
To find out what potential dog owners should be thinking about, I checked in with Dr. Georgia Weber, DVM, a veterinarian at Riverside Animal Hospital in New York City, and dog expert/founder of Dream Come True K9, Blake Rodriguez. Because even if you're not ready now, this list will help you get ready for your future best friend. Waiting until it's the right time could save both you and your new dog a lot of heartbreak down the line.
People who get a dog before they're able to fully commit to meeting their needs may end up in giving up that dog — something that leaves both owners and pets feeling terrible. In fact, giving up your dog could have serious consequences, says Dr. Weber: "For pets, it may end in euthanasia, or behavior problems in their next home as a result of anxiety and stress from neglect and abandonment." Keeping a dog you weren't ready to own isn't always great either, as Dr. Weber points out: "Over 90 percent of behavior problems come from well-intentioned owners that love their dog but didn't consider what the dog needed in order to thrive."
Becoming a dog owner also means having the patience to take the time to find the right breed and temperament that suits your lifestyle.
"We all imagine a 'happy go lucky' pet who loves all people, children and other animals and can adjust readily to new environments and any challenge we throw their way to suit our lifestyle," Dr. Weber says.
"In reality, dogs have a wide range of personalities and many will experience situations and triggers that make them anxious and need consideration and care." Here are some of the signs you may want to hold off on that sweet little pup — for now.
1. It's Not In Your Budget
Dogs are the purest souls in the world and are worth every penny, in my opinion, but they are expensive. Vet visits, food, training, and a laundry list of unexpected expenses could cost hundreds to even thousands of dollars. Dr. Weber says that if you don't have a "stable financial plan," you might not be ready for a dog because "dogs are expensive even when they are well. Feeding, insurance, preventative health care, walkers, toys, it all adds up."
2. You Despise Cleaning Up Messes
Cleaning up messes are a part of life, especially when you're a parent, but are you really ready to clean up even more than you already have to? Some dogs may feel stressed, leading to accidents in the house or destruction of furniture. "You might have a pet who house soils, barks or destroys things if you don't have enough to time to care for their mental health," says Dr. Weber.
3. You're Not Ready To Adjust Your Plans
Being flexible and making your dog a priority is key. No more carefree traveling or late nights. "Be ready to walk your dog three times daily, forever. Be ready to spend time each day playing with your pet and training [them] for life. Be ready to have finances set aside for your dog at all times in case of health care needs, which might impact your vacation plans or spending that money on yourself or your family and friends. Be ready to change your plans in order to come home and feed, walk, medicate and cuddle your dog," says Dr. Weber. Your dog is a living being that needs to be well cared for in order to thrive. If you're unable to change your plans and priorities, you're not ready for a dog.
4. You Already Have Enough On Your Plate
Let's face it, if you're already struggling trying to juggle raising your own kids, work and all the other responsibilities that come with adulthood, what's it going to be like adding a dog into the mix? Rodriguez says, "[if you're] struggling with raising [your] own kids that actually speak [your] language, raising a dog that speaks another language is even more difficult." Which is very valid point. It takes time and patience to learn how to communicate with our dogs. At least our kids understand what we're saying — whether or not they actually listen is another story.
5. You're Not Willing To Make Sacrifices
While there are so many incredibly rewarding aspects to owning a dog, there are also a lot of sacrifices that need to be made. For example, you may have to skip out on happy hour with your favorite group of coworkers because you'll have to run home and walk your dog. Walking your dog may seem inconvenient sometimes, but it has to be done if you want to give your pup a good life. This includes walks "first thing in the morning, when you get home late, come rain or come shine," says Dr. Weber. The same also goes for traveling. If you're lifestyle involves lots of travel, make sure you have reliable support to help look after your dog while you're away. If you're planning on bringing your pup on your travels, keep in mind, some dogs don't travel well and may become stressed or anxious. Try to make sure you're getting a dog who's up for an adventure. "It’s one thing to want to bring your dog everywhere, it’s another thing to teach them how to act in a manner that allows them to do so without stressing you or them out," says Rodriguez.
6. You Aren't Ready To Consider Their Needs
Many people get dogs because of they want the dog to meet their own needs. But, just like with any healthy and fulfilling relationship, you also need to consider what you have to offer. That's right, what kind of life do you have to offer a dog? Rodriguez says, you may not be ready for a dog if you "want a dog for [your] needs and what [you] want to do with the dog, rather than considering what your dog will actually need on their end," which could wind up being very different than what you had in mind. Dr. Weber agrees and says, you should be prepared "for your dog to need you more than you need them. We might need a dog for emotional support and enjoyment but they rely on us to be healthy, happy, fed, walked, pain free and mentally healthy for their whole life," which is approximately 15 years or more — if you're lucky.
7. You Aren't Ready To Commit
Getting a dog means they need to be taken care of for years, maybe even decades. "If you aren't ready to commit yourself to another creature for the next 15 years," you might not be ready for a pup, Dr. Weber says.
8. You Don't Have The Space
Some dogs work really well in an urban environment and don't need a lot of space to be happy and well-adjusted. However, other dogs may need more exercise and room to roam or run, which means apartment living may not be suitable for them. You have to consider the breed and temperament that suits your lifestyle, instead of opting for the breed you want. Rodriguez says, "[if your] current apartment/living space isn’t ideal for bringing an animal in, or [it] doesn’t allow pets," you should reconsider bringing a dog into your home.
9. You Only Want A Breed That Doesn't Suit Your Lifestyle
Rodriguez says, if you're more focused on "the breed of the dog, rather than the overall temperament of the dog," you may need to hold off on adding a furry family member until you're ready. Dr. Weber points out that "even the best bred dogs are still individually intelligent and have emotional brains." Making sure you wait until you come across a dog that is well-matched could make a huge difference.