This is going to be a multi-part series about puppy ownership, how to find a good breeder of a purebred puppy, why you may want to consider adopting, what actually goes into a good purebred dog, is a puppy right for you, getting ready to bring a puppy home and many other answers. If you want to be notified when each new post arrives, then please subscribe to The Ally Journal.

  1. Cost – The cost of owning any animal should be part of your consideration when deciding if you want a puppy to join your household. You should consider the adoption fee or purchase price depending on where you are getting your puppy from. Also consider the cost of the initial vaccine series (usually 3-5 veterinary visits every 3-4 weeks until your puppy is 5-6 months of age), spay/neuter surgery, heartworm/flea/tick protection and then yearly costs for vaccines, heartworm/flea/tick protection, +/- bloodwork, dental cleanings and any accidents or illnesses that arise along the way. Then we have the cost of food, training, supplies (leash, collar, ID tag, Microchip, dog bowls +/- anything else fun like toys, beds, treats) many of which are purchased monthly or replaced as needed. Depending on the breed of puppy then you may have to have them groomed every 4-6 weeks. Some apartment complexes may charge pet fees or may not accept certain breeds of dogs and the same goes for Homeowners Associations as well. Do your research before thinking about a puppy. Also you may want to consider insurance for your puppy. Pet Insurance is not like our own insurance, for pet insurance you pay the veterinarian up front and then submit a claim to your insurance company with the receipt from your veterinary visit and they reimburse you based on your policy. Depending on the type of policy you have will depend on the amount of reimbursement. If you ever travel, you want to consider who will take care of your pet while you are gone or will your pet travel with you. There are costs associated with either. A pet traveling by plane may need a health certificate which is a veterinary visit +/- any testing needed for your destination. Lastly if you ever move, you need to find a place where you can take your pet with you. This may mean someplace more expensive then what you were originally thinking depending on the type or breed of puppy you get.
  2. Research – Many people think that getting a puppy is as easy as going to the local shelter, picking one out and bringing it home…and for many people this is what they do and many do not turn out like they were hoping. Doing some research on the types of breeds you are interested in will help you to find out their energy level, grooming needs, how big will they get on average, what is the average lifespan, how responsive are they to train, and what health problems to watch out for.  Other information about why they were bred to begin with will help you make decisions on breeds that may not have qualities you are looking for. For instance a Border Collie is a herding dog and will herd anything that moves…if you have a toddler this may not be ideal because the Border Collie may nip at the feet or nudge the toddler in order to herd the toddler one place or another.
  3. Family – Many people start looking for dogs for many reasons. Single people get them as companionship, couples get them before starting a human family, families with children get them as companions for the kids and all the adventures they can provide and lastly a dog can be added to a household as a service animal to someone in the family. Whatever your reason is you need to remember that this dog will be with you for the next 10-20 years. Are you moving around a lot? Will you be getting married? Having kids? Travel for work? Are your kids responsible enough to help with the pet? This animal will be there loyally for all of that as long as you are prepared to help your dog make the transitions.
  4. Health – Dogs will provide many years of loyalty to their owners, but consider that they are not the neatest of housemates. Some people are allergic to dogs and look to get a hypoallergenic dog…there is no such thing. People are allergic to the dander a dog produces by shedding skin cells just like we do thousands of times per day. There are dogs that with regular grooming or bathing can help keep allergies to a minimum, but even hairless dogs have dander. Also dogs that are active members of your family, that maybe go hiking with you or camping with you may bring you things like poison ivy on their fur. If you are highly allergic to poison ivy maybe leaving your dog at home is a better option for you. Also dogs track in dust, mud, dirt and pollen on their feet every time they go outside, bringing in more allergens from the environment as well. If you have allergies to pollens then cleaning their feet prior to them entering the house may help you, but needs to be planned on from the beginning.

Once you have started asking yourself the honest questions about if you are ready to add a puppy to your life, then the next step is where to look to find the puppy that will be joining your family. Next time we will discuss purebred dogs and how to find a good, reputable breeder.