Adopting a puppy is a big committment. Dogs have an average lifespan of 11 years, so you want to make sure you’re in it for the long haul. Puppies are adorable, but they’re also a lot of work. Animal shelters are full of one-year-old dogs that have been abandoned because their owners just didn’t have time for them, or didn’t take the responsibility from the beginning to train them. Don’t add to the population of abandoned dogs—make sure you’re ready for a puppy before you get one.
Sure, puppies are probably less expensive to raise than children, but they do still require a financial committment. Puppy expenses include:
- Veterinary Bills. Your puppy needs regular vet checkups and immunizations. He may have injuries or illnesses that require attention as well.
- Food. Big dogs eat a lot; little dogs not as much. Just like humans, dogs deserve healthy, nutritious food. While you don’t need to spend loads of money on expensive, packaged food, quality food should be an expected expense.
- Daycare. If your puppy will be an “only dog,” and you’re gone during the day, he might do well in puppy daycare. He’ll get a chance to socialize with other dogs and won’t chew your couch while you’re at work. Daycare can cost several hundred dollars per month, however.
- Toys, Treats and Chews. Puppies and adult dogs need toys to keep them active and engaged. Toys needn’t be expensive, but they do cost a little.
- Training. A well-trained puppy is a well-loved puppy! Training is worth every penny you’ll spend, but you’ll want to plan for the expense before taking on a new pup.
- Grooming. Some breeds don’t require professional grooming at all; others require regular grooming appointments
- Play Time. Puppies need lots and lots of play time in order to get rid of all that wiggly puppy energy!
- Bonding Time. Your puppy needs to be around you a lot, especially in the beginning, to create that dog/owner bond that will last a lifetime. Be prepared to take your puppy with you on errands, for walks, and just into different areas of the house while you complete chores.
- Exercise Time. Puppies and grown dogs need exercise. Every day. Unless your dog is sick, he will need to be walked daily, and should have other forms of exercise frequently.
Puppies are babies, and they make messes and mistakes. You’ll need a lot of patience during the first year of your puppy’s life.
- Potty Training. Your puppy is going to make a few messes in the house. Unless he comes to you already trained, he is going to pee on your carpet and perhaps poop in a corner a time or two.
- Chewing. Your puppy has a natural inclination to chew. Though there are many things you can do to train him, it’s likely that he’ll damage some of your personal property.
- Crying, Whining, Barking. All of these annoying behaviors can be eased with proper training, but your puppy is apt to whine, cry or bark in those early months.
- You might be making an emotional decision based on a warm, fuzzy notion of a puppy with a red bow around his neck, snuggled in front a fire with chestnuts roasting. A puppy is not a present—he’s a family member.
- Christmas is a stressful, busy time at your house. A new puppy needs a quiet, calm environment for those first few weeks while he adjusts to life at his new home.
- Christmas is a dangerous time for puppies. Children’s toys, poisonous plants and human food, wrappings and Christmas lights are all potential hazards to your new puppy.
A Word About Christmas Puppies
Christmas time is a popular time to bring home a new puppy. Veterinarians and dog associations recommend against this, because: