Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Get A Dog

If you’re thinking about bringing a dog into your life, you’ve got some homework to do to make sure you set yourself up for success. Before you choose your new best friend, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of your lifestyle to determine the traits you’re looking for.

Frugal Beautiful suggests asking yourself these questions:

* Why do you want a dog? Is it companionship? Are you looking to get into breeding? The only wrong answer is “I want a puppy because they’re cute,” because puppies grow out of that phase quickly.

* What’s your budget? Buying some particular breed could cost thousands, but the pound and rescue operations provide cheaper alternatives.

* Do you know how to train a dog? If not, adopt an older dog that’s already housbroken.

* Do you like your carpet? If you’ve got something against dog drool and air getting stuck all over it, you really don’t want a dog after all.

Options for Dog Adoptions [Frugal Beautiful]

Comments

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  1. Jim M says:

    Air sticks to things? Good to know.

    * Do you like your carpet? If you’ve got something against dog drool and air getting stuck all over it, you really don’t want a dog after all.

    • JennQPublic says:

      Gee, thanks, the rest of us would never have noticed that. You’re so clever!

      Seriously though, why not wait to post until you actually have something worth contributing to the conversation?

      • Virga says:

        Yikes, relax. It’s a Phil post. Nothing of substance was contributed in the first place.

        • chefboyardee says:

          Well played.

        • JennQPublic says:

          What Phil contributed was a great conversation starter. Sadly, many Consumerists these days aren’t capable of actual conversation, but they sure are capable of spotting a typo.

          It would be great if this site had a moderator who actually disemvoweled the comments that violate the comments code (I’m looking at you, Why-is-this-on-Consumerist assholes!).

          • Chmeeee says:

            Ironically, you are also violating the code (I think I am too now).

            Commenters are not moderators

            If you see a commenter violating these rules, email moderator@consumerist.com. Posting only to point out someone is breaking the rules is distracting and unnecessary. So no rules lawyering or “junior moderating” in the threads. Don’t try to argue the fine points of how your comments are just within the rules. Always post with the spirit of the comments code and not just its letter.

      • j2.718ff says:

        Are you directing that to Jim or Phil?

        • JennQPublic says:

          Very much to Jim. Pointing out obvious typos is douchey in the first place, but the comments section should be for on-topic comments, not for proving that we notice when letters are missing.

          There are commentors below who had real ideas and experiences to contribute. I’m here to read those, not be assured that Jim could pass fifth-grade English.

          • penuspenuspenus says:

            Blogging is serious business. Let’s all do this correctly from now on or JennQPublic will blow a tit.

        • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

          Hah! +1,000 ;-D

  2. Krazycalvin says:

    I never regret buying my dog 5 years ago. He is extremely well trained (after a year of hard work.) All my family and friends love my dog and I have no issues getting somebody to dogsit while I am out of town or whatever. I spent several years watching dog shows and learning more about the temperaments of the breeds before choosing a dog.

    • CalicoGal says:

      “…buying…” your dog? I hope by “buying,” you mean adopting from a shelter….

      • BelleSade says:

        Oh not this again.

      • JennQPublic says:

        When I was a kid, my dad adopted a dog from me from a shelter. It had been abused as a puppy, and a few years later we had to have him put down after he bit someone.

        I bought my current dog from a backyard breeder after researching what would be the best breed for my situation, and I don’t regret it or feel guilty for a second. I do NOT have a responsibility to every dog in a shelter, I have a responsibility to my household and to the dog that I got to be sure that we are all happy. Picking out a random Pit Bull mix at the shelter wasn’t going to ensure that. The couple I bought my dog from bred her because they love the breed and her parents, they aren’t breeding hundreds of them to fit the breed standard, they just wanted puppies from their own beloved dogs.

        Animal husbandry is one of the oldest hobbies in the world, there is nothing inherently immoral or irresponsible about breeding a dog or cat or chicken or horse for one’s own purposes. Puppy-mill owners should be publicly flogged, though. Obviously.

        • kobresia says:

          Couldn’t have said it better.

          Over the years, I’ve done my part to mitigate the consequences of other people’s incompetence, poor decisions, and other mistakes that result in them surrendering animals to shelters. This is definitely one of those things where nobody is under any guilt trip or obligation to adopt a homeless animal, but it’s virtuous to do so.

        • falnfenix says:

          the only dog i’d ever had before the doberman we purchased recently was a shelter dog. we had him for a month and he proceeded to attack everyone in the family in the two months we had him. we took him back, and it killed my dad to do so…but he just wasn’t a good fit for us.

          unfortunately, this triggered an awful fear of dogs that i’ve just started to get over. my puppy is helping me with getting past that fear. could i have found this in a shelter dog? possibly, but i wasn’t willing to be terrified of an animal in my house until it helped me get past my fear.

          and the worst part of all of this is the people who’ve given me a load of crap for buying a dog. we went through the local doberman club for the recommendation, and we will be doing schutzhund or agility with him once he’s old enough. can’t do SchH with dogs that can’t handle the rigors of the sport, and for months before we settled on going with a purchased puppy there were none in the shelters that could handle such a sport.

          • falnfenix says:

            uh, apparently my brain and hands disagree on how long we had the mutt. he was in my house 2 months. after a month he started attacking people.

      • atthec44 says:

        I’ve never understood the sentiment that people should only get their pets from a shelter. Regardless of where we got our cat from, we gave him a good home.

      • chiieddy says:

        I have no problems with people buying from respectable breeders. I have a problem with people who perpetuate the puppy mills by purchasing at pet stores.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Some of those questions are a little stupid..I don’t know how to train a dog, but I know there are people who do it for a living and I’d have them train the dog. I do like my carpet, but given how gross it gets from people using it, a dog trampling on it sure isn’t going to deter me from getting a pet.

    Two very important questions:

    Do you have kids?

    Do you have non-canine pets?

    If the answer to either one is “yes” you need to consider the ramifications of getting a dog. Find one that has been observed to be good around children, and let your children be around that dog before you adopt it. Some shelters let you bring in your own pets to socialize with dogs up for adoption. If you have non-dog/cat pets – you should do your research to see which breeds might instinctively consider your other pets to be food rather than friend.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It’s actually better to train them yourself. It establishes you as the highest ranking in the house if you train. It’s not hard. You can get a book or take a class with your dog at one of the big chain stores.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        If we adopt a dog, we’ll probably take a class on it or adopt one that has already been trained. Puppies are adorable and all, but most of the dogs at shelters are older and I would feel bad if I went out of my way to find a puppy when other dogs needed homes.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        If I might add to that – I would also recommend watching every episode of every season of “The Dog Whisperer” by Caesar Milan. At first it looks like voodoo, but as you watch you can learn a lot about how dogs think and their body language, and how to respond appropriately to what they’re communicating to you. It’s been a huge help for me and my dog.

        • eturowski says:

          No, no, absolutely no. Veterinary behaviorists have said repeatedly that Cesar Milan’s techniques are at best ineffective and at worst downright dangerous.

          http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/stories/Position_Statements/dominance%20statement.pdf

          • eturowski says:

            *Millan. D’oh.

          • Cor Aquilonis says:

            I don’t think dominance or punishment has anything to do with the techniques used on the show. From what I’ve seen and personally used, the technique is to provide negative reinforcement for inappropriate behavior, and to make the negative reinforcement commensurate with the behavior you want to stop. So, I use the sharp-shush for small indiscretions like trying to tug or inappropriately pass on the walk, the stiff-fingers for bigger corrections (I haven’t had to use them in a couple years, she listens to my shushes very well now, and almost never misbehaves.) The show also uses positive reinforcement through exercises for calm relaxation, treats to encourage structured tracking behaviors, and playing with the ball, and so on – depending on what the dog enjoys.

            I’ve watched a lot of the shows, and I just don’t see the dominant, punishing behavior that you’re saying is there. I see negative reinforcement for the really unruly, dangerous dogs at the beginning, but that transitions to majority positive reinforcement through getting the dog to relax and then taking it for walks or playing with balls or whatever. (I count relaxation as a positive reward, because it sure feels that way to me.)

            Besides, it’s worked super-well for me and my dog, so we’re just going to keep doing it.

            • eturowski says:

              If you follow Cesar Millan’s methods for behavior training and don’t notice that they are dominance-based, then you’re missing something.

              In an article on his own website called, “Problems Walking Your Dog?” (http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/thebasics/problems-on-the-walk) the very first bullet point reads, “Make sure you are communicating a message that says, ‘I am the pack leader!’” If that’s not dominance-based, then I don’t know what is. The fact that you attempt to correct “inappropriate passing” behavior while walking dog suggests that you are also trying to establish a dominant-subordinate hierarchy in your walks (i.e., if you are not trying to dominate your dog, then why can’t your dog walk in front of you?).

              But anyway, you sound like you have found your own successful training your dog – so it’s commendable that you put the time and effort into doing it. :::thumbs up::: People need to be cautious when applying Cesar Millan’s techniques blindly to their dogs, though, because some dogs will react to an alpha roll by trying to tear your face off. Advising people to follow his methods unconditionally is dangerous.

              • Cor Aquilonis says:

                From the article you linked to: “Consequently, what owners really want is not to gain dominance, but to obtain the ability to influence their pets to perform behaviors willingly ‚Äîwhich is one accepted definition of leadership (Knowles and Saxberg 1970; Yin 2009).”

                I’m quoting this becasue the article you link to makes the distinction between dominance and leadership; I’m making the distinction between dominance and leadership; and the Caesar article you quote specifically says show pack leadership (not dominance or punishment). All involved seem to recognize a distinction between dominance and leadership, except you.

                “If you are not trying to dominate your dog, then why can’t your dog walk in front of you?”

                I don’t let the dog walk in front of me because she doesn’t know where we’re going. If I let my dog in front, she wants to trace all over creation with her nose, drag me through creeks and brush after a squirrel, then lunge into traffic. My dog isn’t in front because she has no sense of where we’re going to walk, so she just picks a direction and goes, which hurts my shoulder. When she’s in front, she also doesn’t want to listen, so that’s no good. If she won’t listen, she wont be safe from danger, and I want her to be safe.

                When my dog is walking beside me, I know she can’t lunge into traffic or frighten other walkers, and the walk is much more pleasant with a slack leash. It’s like the relationship between Pinky and the Brain. Pinky does what Brain says because Brain knows what’s going on. It’s not because Brain intimidates or scares Pinky into submission.

                I do agree that being stupid about applying his techniques will definitely get someone hurt, but being stupid about anything will get someone hurt. I object to your painting his techniques as universally condemned by experts and primarily about dominating and cowing a dog into submission, when they’re not.

                • GaroldH says:

                  Oh that’s just it, I have to reply to this. I usually see the dog-doesn’t-walk-in-front thing treated dogmatically (:D). It may be the case that it’s the best strategy for some dogs, but dominance trainers usually teach it as the only strategy. If you’re not teaching it as the sole strategy, you’re probably not a strict dominance trainer. If you are, you are, no matter what terminology you prefer.

                  My dog is allowed to walk in front of me. If I’m about to cross a road, or there’s some other reason for it, he walks beside me. Otherwise, he walks wherever is within reason. If I want to turn, I tell him. Sometimes he asks to go one way, I tell him we’re not doing that, and he acquiesces. He knows I’m in control, and getting him to this point didn’t require “shushes” or “stiff fingers” or controlling “inappropriate passing”.

                  The relationship with a dog is a great, complex thing, it shouldn’t be oversimplified, it should be embraced. I like that my dog expresses opinions without my asking for them, that he has a mind of his own. There’s a mutual respect that happens, and it’s a good thing. I’m still, again, definitely in control.

          • ChuckECheese says:

            Yes, yes, absolutely yes. I read that propaganda you linked to. What it does is create an artificial duality between dominance training and (positive) reinforcement techniques. Actually good training is both, starting with the gentle stuff and moving into dominance techniques/ negative reinforcement only if needed. Only crazy people believe you can reason gently with animals as if they were gifted children hungry for civil discussion. So silly that people think that using any negative reinforcement or unpleasant tones with an animal constitutes cruelty. Anybody who has had animals know they have minds and habits of their own despite good training, and sometimes need to be frankly shown who’s boss.

            • eturowski says:

              It’s actually not propaganda, it’s a legitimate position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, a regulatory body that accredits veterinary behavior specialists. If you want to pish-tosh it, that’s up to you, but the fact remains that many dogs are not amenable to dominance techniques and will attack you despite your best intentions to “show them who’s boss.”

      • iesika says:

        It is better to train the dog yourself, but not because of establishing rank. Dogs respond best to the person who trained them. They’ll be more eager to please if it’s “their person” who’s doing the asking, too. Also, training is like education – you don’t do it once and then forget about it, after which it becomes second nature. It requires practice – lots of practice – and reinforcement over the years.

        My roommate paid a professional trainer to teach his dog things 11 years ago that the dog still won’t do. I moved in, and it took me all of two days to teach him that jumping on people or digging in the garden is a no-no (without any physical punishment, intimidation, or ‘dominance’ games.)

        The best thing you can do when you’re getting a new dog is train *yourself* in how to be a dog owner.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I feel that establishing rank is important, but I do agree that they respond best to those who train them. I use both dominant techniques and positive reinforcement. I have a pug though, so I don’t have to worry about getting my face ripped off as someone said. A pug is more likely to lick you to death than anything else.

  4. Captain Walker says:

    I’m gonna buy me a dog
    because I need a friend now

    RIP Davy

  5. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Another: Do you live in an apartment? If so, make sure you get a smaller dog that doesn’t need a yard and that meets the apartments weight restrictions. I live in an apartment and see people with dogs that weigh far over the 50 lb. limit. Big dogs really need a yard to run around in, plus their bark is far louder and way more annoying to hear when their owners are gone all day and they are barking non-stop.

    Another: When you take your dog on walks are you willing to pick up after it? If not, keep your lazy butt at home and forget about a dog. No one wants poop left in their yards or on the lawn of their apartments.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I agree, except I don’t think big dogs need a yard specifically, they just need space. Parks offer more than enough space for people in city apartments. But like you said, if you’re too lazy to pick up after your dog, you’d be too lazy to take your dog to the park and you’re probably better off not getting a dog at all.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        This is true and is a good point. We have a dog park at my apartments which does solve the problem if you actually take your dog there. I never see anyone at ours, but I have seen people take their dogs to the city run park.

        I am not one for leaving dogs a outside all day while gone, but I do think that owners need to walk their dogs or give them a yard to run in. Here, I see people take their big dogs out really quick and go back in (probably b/c they are breaking the weight limit rules.)

        • wellfleet says:

          There are many large and giant breed dogs that hardly need any space and are perfectly suited for apartment life: greyhounds, mastiffs, great danes… In fact, many small breeds, especially terriers and shelties, are terrible in apartments because they are very high energy and need a “job” to do so they don’t get bored and destructive.

    • JennQPublic says:

      Also, little dogs have little poops. This is worth considering, because even if you have a big yard, it will stay much cleaner between scooping if your dog produces little waste.

      Yards where big dogs frequently pee smell rank.

    • c_c says:

      A yard doesn’t equal exercise. Big dogs can get along fine in an apartment. Great Dane’s for example are just big lap dogs. As long as you can get them proper exercise through walks (and perhaps go to he local dog park) they’ll be fine. My sister-in-law as a huge rottweiler in her apartment and it’s perfectly happy, it goes on plenty of walks and goes to the nearby park to socialize with other dogs.

      We have a yard and our dog doesn’t “run around” out there all day, she prefers to nap on the couch and be taken on walks.

      • chiieddy says:

        Don’t forget greyhounds. The perfect apartment dog. Big, but lazy as all fuck. And yes, I’m looking at one right now. Lazy bitch. :)

  6. Foot_Note says:

    cats rule! Dogs drule!

  7. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    More important questions, will my Staffordshire Bull Terrier gonna get in the way of my social life ?
    Should I get two Staffordshire Bull Terriers so the one doesn’t get lonely ?
    Who will walk my two Staffies as I’m at work all day ?
    Should I buy a home & move out of pent deluxe apt, so I can have a yard for them to run-amuck ?

  8. CalicoGal says:

    Say, is that a Plott Hound in that pic?? Great-looking dog!! And a matching cat, too!!! Nice!

  9. davegins says:

    Do you have a $2000 budget for a designer puppy? If so, please adopt a shelter dog for $120 and overpay by $1,880!

  10. JennQPublic says:

    I think one of the most important is what kind of dog you’re going to get. Unless you have serious plans to train them in agility or herding or something similar, DON’T get a working breed. They have too much drive to sit around the house all day waiting for their fifteen-minute walk, it’s really not fair to them.

    There are many breeds that have been bred specifically to be companion dogs, if all you are looking for is a companion, do both of you a favor and get an appropriate dog. You may think you’re doing that Pit Bull mix a favor by ‘saving it’ from the shelter so it can spend all day trapped in your apartment, but you’re really not.

  11. chizu says:

    A couple more things — what kind of lifestyle do you have, can you accommodate the dog’s needs? If you have an active lifestyle, then it’s fine to get a high energy dog. But if you cannot commit to one or two full hours a day to walk the dog, work its mind, etc. Try to stay away from high energy dog. My friend got a wonderful corgi, he’s actually surprisingly laid back, but as he gets older (1 year and 2 months old), he’s needing more exercise and attention because he gets bored easily. I wish she’d take him to training and get his brain working. He’s an extremely intelligent dog but she’s not working him enough because she’s so laid back/lazy. (And vice versa, don’t get a low energy dog if you’re active.)

    Second, on going medication. You’re going to have to throw down at least $40 a month for meds, I can’t remember the name of it, but that stuff for fleas and lyme disease. Same thing with my friend, she might have skipped a month of two during winter, and then the poor dog started limping around. She had to take him to the vet a couple of times, check up, ran blood test, and gave him antibiotics. It ended up costing her $600. Don’t cheap out on it. Not only are you going to pay more in the long run, the poor thing is going to have to suffer. (I think we never found out what happened to him. But he might have hurt himself and the lyme disease test came back negative.)

    To be honest, just like any pet, can you commit yourself to one? I really want a pet recently, but I realised I just can’t commit myself to one fully. Not a bunny, not a cat, not anything. For the simple fact that I might move in a few months to a year or so. It’d be selfish of me to make my pet suffer through the move. I don’t know where I’ll be, so I’m just not ready for it yet… I guess I’ll just go play with everyone else’s pet for now…

    • JennQPublic says:

      You can save a lot of money of flea treatments for small dogs by buying the packages for big dogs online and measuring out the proper dosage yourself (check with the manufacturer of your specific drops for dosage info first, obviously). I pay about 10% of what I would pay at PetCo by doing it this way.

      • qwickone says:

        Ooo, thanks for the advice. I only use the chemicals in the summer months. In the winter months I opt for a holistic treatment and that’s WAY cheaper and it’s working for us!

  12. Crymansqua says:

    Relevant points, but #1 should have been “do you work more than 40 hours a week?” If you do then your dog wont be getting enough attention/exercise/etc.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      If it’s just you, yes, that’s bad. If there are two of you, it’s not a big deal if sometimes you work over 40 hours a week and sometimes you’re just keeping a normal schedule. I don’t know how many people are in at 9 am and out by 5 pm exactly. And it depends on what hours you work. If you’re home early enough to spend an hour or two at the dog park, that’s great.

    • aloria says:

      This. I had to give my dogs to my parents because between work and commuting, I just wasn’t home often enough to give them enough attention. I had a dog walker, but it just wasn’t fair for the dogs to be sitting around alone for 10-11 hours a day.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It’s always sad when people have to give up their dogs..my question to you, though, is how come you couldn’t justify it with 10 to 11 hours away from home?

        It never occurred to me that being away from home for a total of 10 hours was really a problem, since most people commute to work and don’t always live very closeby. My total commute and work will mean that I spend roughly 10 hours away from home every day. I work a regular 8 hour day and my commute isn’t abnormal. If most people live like this as well, then is it really affecting the dog that much?

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        My bf had to give his cat away for this reason. Also, he traveled a lot both for work and to visit me and family, and it was a huge problem finding people to come feed and check on her. There are pet-sitting services, but that can really add up.

  13. u1itn0w2day says:

    If you are thinking about a dog you must be prepared to alter your life around the dog for the next 10-15 years. That means you must be around & willing/able to walk it 2-3 times a day and/or simply let it out. You must be willing to clean up/curb your dog which means handling alot of crap and/or bending over(flexible and in shape ?) You must be around to feed the dog. You must remember to buy dog food. You can’t hang at the bar(which is a good thing). Dogs are social and should have contact with people or other dogs along with physical attention.

    You must be willing to clean up after it and not just messes as a puppy, you think dusting is tough now wait until have to deal with dog hair. If you keep on top of grooming and cleaning it’s not a problem. YOU must pay attention to and care for the dog at all times. You must deal with what ever your pet drags in wether its fleas, insects, mud, water snow, ice which mean you must be willing to clean or brush the dog off anytime of day or night. You must be willing to SPEND DOLLARS on medical care. 10-15 years the dog will become a huge part of your life, they are like a kid, you MUST care for them. You should care for them and treat them as a member of the family.

    • c_c says:

      “You can’t hang at the bar(which is a good thing). Dogs are social and should have contact with people or other dogs along with physical attention.”

      Here in Denver there are plenty of bars w/ patios that you can bring your dog to!

    • ardala says:

      I agree with everything in this message!

      If you don’t want to change your life, or if you’re just thinking a dog would add a delightful amount of doggie-ambiance to your home, don’t get a dog.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t understand what hanging out at a bar has anything to do with good dog ownership… so you have a dog, and are no longer allowed to go out on Friday or attend happy hour? Last I checked, even responsible people go out every so often. People shouldn’t be going out to bars every night, but that has nothing to do with a dog.

      • aloria says:

        Don’t see your problem with people who go to bars every night. Some people like to socialize, not everyone goes to booze.

        And if you’re joining your friends after work for happy hour or whatever, you’d better have someone at home who lets the dog out during the day. It’s bad enough that people expect a dog to hold it for 8-10 hours/day while they’re at work, longer than that is outright cruel.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Well, like you others say, dogs need attention. So if you’re at the bar every night, guess who isn’t getting any attention?

          As for 8 to 10 hours…people work 8 hour days. I wonder how other people manage to have pets and whether they have someone walk the dog in the middle of the day. I don’t have a dog, so I don’t need to plan for any of this, but it seems to me that 8 hour workdays are so common that it doesn’t seem to be a problem if a dog gets a walk in the morning and a walk in the afternoon and waits 8 hours in between.

        • tbax929 says:

          Haven’t you ever heard of a dog door?

          I work 9 hours a day, and have a social life. My beagle is doing just fine. He comes and goes as he needs, and we do walks in the morning or after I get home. We do the dog park on Sundays.

          You people acting as if you can’t have a job and a dog are being silly.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        The dog is your priority. I only use the bar as an example for you must make time for the dog every single day. You also should try to keep somekind of schedule which means if it’s time for their night walk regardless of the score of the game, your buzz, or any other activity you should be there for the dog. Minor deviations in their schedule are onething but would you want to wait for 4 hours to go to the bathroom or eat. Dogs and humans for that matter can get sick if they don’t go. You should be able to get up in the morning as well. YOU have to take care of the dog by making it a daily priority in your life.

    • Hartwig says:

      The point about lifelong pet healthcare is a good one to make. Just diagnosing a common issue can run hundreds to thousands of dollars. The initial cost of a pet is nothing.

    • scoosdad says:

      You mention the 10-15 year window and that’s exactly where I am right now with my dog. His older brother Scooter up there in my avatar passed away two years ago this week at the age of 13 after a long debilitating illness that even one of the best animal medical centers in the country (Angell in Boston) was unable to diagnose. I was afraid to leave him alone for too long, and I was constantly watching him to head off any horrible messes to clean up in the house and make sure he was comfortable and was eating enough food to stay alive. I lost a lot of sleep in the last 6 months of his life just keeping alert during the night for problems until we made the difficult decision to euthanize him. His brother dog is approaching 14 years old and he’s starting to exhibit some minor health issues and we’re up at least once in the middle of the night now so he can go outside to relieve himself.

      So if you’re the type who would put a dog to sleep the minute he started to become old and sick with these kinds of issues and the vet bills start to mount, then you’re probably not cut out to be a dog owner. They’re like people in that regard, and they usually don’t just die painlessly of natural causes at a certain age without first having some health issues that you have to deal with as a responsible owner. If you’d let your sister or brother take care of a dad or mom with Alzheimers instead of taking it on yourself, then you’re probably not going to do well with a dog either. Just my experience and advice, but I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        That’s a good point. We had to give our a dog IV and other meds in his final months. Brushing their teeth as well. Had to carry him up and down stairs or just one step to go outside( until about 13 he would still would drag down steps outside). But he was smart enough not to want to go out in a down pour. BUT that means if it stops raining around 12 midnight and the dog hasn’t been outside or walked guess who is going for a midnight stroll.

  14. Galium says:

    Why do you want a dog? Cue announcer: “Out of a job? Unemployment running out? Now anyone can put a whole new meaning into the word dog food. Try the Runtcoe handy dandy pup stuffer, its easy to use for those plumper dogs. You too can say, I make my own dog food at home.‚Äù *,**.

    * not sold in stores
    ** bateries not included.

  15. You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

    This is very timely. I was just looking at dogs on petfinder last night. I saw 2 that I was interested in, but I don’t think I’m ready to spend all the money I just got with my raise on a dog. I was thinking I’d get a small newt instead!

  16. BurtReynolds says:

    - Can you afford it? My dogs are getting old, and the vet bills start adding up quick. The pit takes 4 pills with every meal, a glucosamine supplement at breakfast, and an oral med at breakfast for her hip. We also pay to go to a pool for exercising her hip. The other dog just had a health scare where she lost almost 10 lbs in a couple months. A few hundred in tests later, she is gaining her weight back. Never figured out if something was “wrong”. Plus they develop lumps and such that you are always tempted to get checked out. So far none are anything to worry about.

    My point is, when they are older, it is tough to say no to $300 here, $100 there, prescription food, and meds. Don’t forget dog walkers or boarding if you ever go out of town.

    They will accelerate the wear on your house though. Especially as they get older and have decreased control of their functions. In fact, I need to call the carpet cleaners soon thanks to the “leaky” dog.

    Also remember when you get your Pit Bull, Rottie, or other “aggressive” breed that it can affect your homeowner’s insurance and some towns won’t allow them if you ever have to move.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I didn’t realize that dogs could also get cataracts, I guess it’s because our family dog when I was a kid didn’t have them, nor does anyone’s dog that I know have them, but my black lab developed them quite suddenly from last summer to this spring. He’s nearly blind now, and it’s a big adjustment for us. I looked into surgery, but it costs about 2 months take home pay, and while I could finance it, I’m not sure I should do that either given the employment environment.

      I just feel really bad for him, but my vet assures me he will adjust, and will listen to my voice and that will help him a great deal. Still doesn’t mean I feel good about him being sightless.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        Yeah, it is pretty heart wrenching and I am not looking forward to some of the decisions I’ll have to make these last few (realistically 2-3) years. Honestly, the best case is that they just pass away in their sleep after being “normal” that day rather than a slow decay where you are carrying them up and down the stairs to go out and they appear to struggle daily.

        Since we have two that have essentially spent their lives together, I guess there is also a question mark as to how they will react once one of them is gone.

      • phonebem says:

        I grew-up with a lab-mix that developed pretty bad cataracts at around 10-12 years old. He adapted fairly well and was pretty active right up until he passed at almost 17 years old. I guess what I’m trying to say is that keep and eye on him/her, if it doesn’t really seem to bother him/her I wouldn’t worry. Dogs are pretty amazing at adapting and just carrying on and living a happy life, more so than a lot of people…

  17. ilovemom says:

    Are any of your friends or family allergic to dogs? If so, they might not want to (or be able to, depending on how bad the reaction) visit your house if you get a dog.

  18. Cor Aquilonis says:

    Here, here, let me help:

    *What’s your tolerance for vile disgustingness? Your dog will emit some of the most vile vomit, poo, and gasses that have ever defiled the human senses. Are you comfortable with this, and do you have the cleaning fluids ready? Also, can you spot the road kill before you dog sucks it down it’s gullet; or worse, crunches and crunches on it? Can you handle the sight of maggots dropping out of a rotting, flat squirrel while your dog luxuriates in it? Can you handle picking ticks off the dog after it runs through brush?

    *Do you enjoy having dog fur, literally, everywhere? Dog fur in your clothes – even the clean ones. Dog fur in every crevice of your house. Dog fur on your tongue or between your teeth because one wafted into dinner. Dog fur in your couch, bed, car, closet, kitchen… You can vacuum and brush your dog all you want, you’ll never win.

    *Do you like walking two to three miles a day? The dog’s gotta be walked, otherwise it will turn destructive(er). Also, you gotta take out the dog every day to use the “bathroom.” Three or so times as day, every day, rain or shine, healthy or immobilized by the stomach flu…

    • sjackson12 says:

      this is why you get a greyhound

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        You know, I see a dog belly and all the minor irritations just fade away…

        Adorable dog you have there!

      • chiieddy says:

        Aw a red fawn like my Mackey. Greyhounds are the best. They deserve their retirement, but I really mean it. They’re LAZY! :)

    • scoosdad says:

      I have a small dog and a fairly large fenced in back yard so fortunately I’ve never been locked into the ‘gotta walk the dog’ routine. But what I invested in years ago has got to be one of the coolest inventions a dog owner has ever seen– it’s an electrically operated doggy door with a clear panel that slides into the wall when it opens, like the doors on the original Star Trek series. My dog wears a magnet on his collar, and when he approaches either side of it, the door opens for about ten seconds then closes tightly behind him again. A godsend if you work at home but have a dog (or even a cat) that needs to be let out and back in frequently. When you don’t want it to be used, there’s a switch on it to disable it and it locks. I’ve also found a way to activate it remotely from a web browser if I go out and need to let the dog out for a few minutes.

      Unlike a manual plastic flapping panel doggy door, this one blocks the local raccoons and critters from getting in the house too, unless they’ve found a magnet somewhere and figured out how to game the system. Google “Solo Pet Doors” if you’re interested.

  19. hoi-polloi says:

    This article doesn’t even bring up things like your work schedule, your social life and frequency of travel, the expense of pet ownership once you have a dog, or compatibility with other pets and kids. I find those to be much more pressing things to worry about.

    Do you enjoy going right from work to a night out? Now you have to include a stop at home to deal with the dog before meeting up with friends. Do you have to work long hours or have a long commute? You may need to hire a dog walker. My wife and I used to get friends to watch our dogs when we went on weekend trips, but for longer trips we’ve used a kennel or a petsitting service. That can seriously impact your vacation funds.

    Do you live in an apartment? If so, having dogs can really limit your options when you move. Expect to spend more time looking for acceptable places that take pets. I’d seriously consider your plans for the next few years when considering if a dog is right for you.

  20. alexwade says:

    Here are some more important questions before getting a dog:

    Do you have time to give the dog daily exercise? Or, do you have a big enough yard where the dog can run around while you are away? If you don’t have a big yard, do you like to pick up dog poo? (That last question can also be used for indoor cats.) What will you do if your dog is a constant barker?

    • c_c says:

      Most dogs don’t just run around if you leave them in the yard. I know my dog mostly just lies in the grass when we leave her out there. Most dog trainers would say you need to walk your dog daily, regardless of if you have a big yard or not, and if you can’t dedicate the time to do so, then don’t get a dog.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        Walk the dog, exactly. And the look at me types who drag their dog running with them aren’t doing the dog any favors either, they should walk the dog for their cool down. It might benefit their cardio but it trashes their joints and paws especially on concrete and asphalt.

  21. Major Tom Coming Home says:

    When I adopted a dog, I knew for a fact I an adult dog would be the best choice for me and I felt a mutt would potentially have fewer health problems. The mixed breed dog I got is fantastic and getting her was one of the best decisions I ever made. Even “reputable” breeders will breed uncle to niece and grandfather to granddaughter to create better show dogs. My mutt’s family tree at least most likely has branches.

    • kobresia says:

      This is actually a compelling reason to go to the farm/backyard breeders who don’t really give a crap about bloodlines or the show conformation that flirts with disaster (such as hip dysplasia), they just love the particular breed & try to do what’s right.

      Adult dogs from breed rescues (or reputable breeders who help re-home any dog they bred) can be really great. That’s where I got my older one who died last month. I didn’t really want to go through the hassle of dealing with the crazy people who usually run the breed rescues again, so I’ve been going through the hassle of coping with a puppy over the past several months. When it comes to make such a decision again, I could probably go either way. Adult dogs have rough edges that are someone else’s fault. Puppies will invariably have rough edges when they grow-up that are all your own fault.

  22. RandomHookup says:

    I’m gonna buy a dog for my old age because nobody makes fun of the “dog lady” on the corner.

  23. pop top says:

    “Are you looking to get into breeding? The only wrong answer is “I want a puppy because they’re cute,” because puppies grow out of that phase quickly.”

    Uh no, looking to get into breeding is another wrong answer. Unless you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars breeding healthy, well-trained, well-socialized animals, please do not become another shitty breeder. There are already too many of them filling up the shelters and rescues with their “rejects”.

    Also, if you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet. Don’t get any animal of any kind if you can’t afford to give it a quality life. If you still feel like you have to some sort of animal companion, please considering volunteering at a local shelter or rescue. We are always looking for people to help clean, collect donations, play with the animals, etc.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      In addition to the vet comment (which I wholeheartedly agree with), I’d add that you should plan to buy quality food. Don’t buy some random generic dog food because it’s cheap. Research good brands, and look at it as an investment in your dog’s long-term health.

  24. humphrmi says:

    “Do you know how to train a dog? If not, adopt an older dog that’s already housbroken.”

    No. Learn how to train a dog. It will help immensely down the road, you know, when you want it to behave.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Preach it!

      I get comments all the time on how my dog is soooo well-behaved. Well, know what? I trained her on how to sit in a car quietly instead of barking like mad or jumping out. I trained her to walk politely at my side instead of dragging me all over creation on our walks. I trained her to respect other people’s space and not run up and jump on them. I trained her to come when called, sit and lay when asked, and not wrap her dang leash around a pole while walking.

      If a person can’t be bothered to learn to train a dog (which is not hard, it just takes time and consistency), they shouldn’t get a dog. Period.

  25. dush says:

    “Do I like picking up feces?”

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Or cleaning up what seems like 2 quarts of vomit when your 85 lb black lab has an upset stomach from time to time…

      • scoosdad says:

        Best $25 I spent in a long time was a couple weeks ago at Home Depot. Know those big five gallon orange buckets they sell with their name on them for all kinds of chores? They have an accessory for them now– a snap on lid that’s a wet or dry vac. The vac is only $20 and the bucket is around $5. I also spent a little extra for a plain, flat bottomed pickup nozzle for the vac hose.

        I use it now to suck up these kinds of accidents before I bring out the big carpet machine. The bucket is plastic, doesn’t rust and rinses clean, and it’s cheap enough to be disposed of and/or recycled once in awhile. Whatever it sucks up goes only through the nozzle and the flexible hose that comes with it and directly into the bucket, and nowhere else (unlike some more elaborate wet pickup systems I’ve tried and thrown out when they get dirty in places you can’t clean out). I love it.

  26. ardala says:

    Adopting an older dog does not mean you won’t have to train it. Housebreaking habits can go out the window when even a well-trained dog is thrown into a new situation.

    If you are getting a dog, regardless of age or background, you MUST learn to train him or her. There are many trainers out there who will help you – in fact, it’s more “people training” than “dog training”. My second-hand dog was nearly perfect, but I still attended training classes with her to increase my bond with her and also to get a little insight into the doggie mind. It also helped with socialization and friendliness.

    Remember that every time you take a vacation you will have to make dogsitting arrangements or kennel your dog. This can get expensive.

    If you’re lucky enough to find a dog who doesn’t need a whole lot of exercise (mine is quite happy with one 30-minute walk a day, and 3 15-minute potty-and-sniff breaks – yes, this is low activity) make sure you keep their brain active, through puzzle toys, games and training drills.

    Above all, do not get a dog if you don’t want to change your lifestyle in a big way. If you’re at all unsure, get a cat. I’ve had and loved both, but I have to admit that a cat is much less work.

  27. kataisa says:

    Think about your job security, your relationship with your significant other, and where you’ll be in 10-15 years.

    Having a pet is a 20 year maximum commitment, much like having a child. Think about vet care costs when the dog gets older, boarding costs when you’re on vacation, etc. Nobody ever thinks of these things and CONSUMERIST deserves a slap upside the head for not mentioning it.

    I am personally appalled whenever I read about all the “beloved pets” who are dumped at shelters when the going gets tough (job loss, divorce, death, pet too old and no longer cute, etc.)

    If you get a dog then you need to man (or woman) up and keep your promise to this animal and not abandon him in his time of need; not (s)he who gives you nothing but love and loyalty and lowers your heart attack risk in return.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      So, so well said! Also, it would be wise to have a plan in place if you’re no longer able to care for your dog, either by death or disability or temporary life event. I’ve already talked to my sister (a completely trustworthy individual), and she’s getting the dog and a stipend for it’s care should I die. Contingency is my parents.

  28. chiieddy says:

    Also:

    * Do you mind walking your dog?
    * Do you mind paying someone else to care for your dog while you’re out of town?
    * Do you mind having to rush home from an event to feed your dog?

    ===

    Also, please get a rescue.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      +100, You have to be able to answer those questions correctly EVERY single day of the dog’s life.

  29. Overman says:

    This is a problem for me.
    I just moved to a semi-rural area and have been thinking about a dog
    to protect the chickens. And wife.
    Problem is, even from the shelter they want between $200 to $300.
    Now if the dogs sucks eggs or attacks my chickens, I see no better option than to put it down.
    Spending hundreds of dollars a month on a sick animal is foolish.
    Its a quality of life issue.
    I euthanize my cats at 15, after that they don’t mouse.
    You people would rather live till 96 on a ventillator leeching off the state?
    They are pets, cognizant tools, not precious snowflakes.

    • jacobs cows says:

      Dont put a dog down,because he has a high prey drive and you have him guarding your chickens.Research the breed and adopt the right kind of dog.Recsue groups who foster their dogs are a good bet,as they know the animal.On second thought,just get an alarm system on your hen house and your home and forget abt getting a dog.

  30. jacobs cows says:

    I take my big pooch to a dog park as much as possible.He gets his excercise and meets all the dogs there, that makes him happy.A dog is a living thing and unless you are 100% committed to taking care of his needs,you will not enjoy dog ownership.Mine is a rescue that I got when he was 4 years old and I just love him so much.He is almost 10 and has been trying at times especially when he used to chase my cat, but he is settled down alot.I am very content with him.He is always there to be my best buddy,even when I am grumpy.Dont try out a dog then take him back to a shelter to have his heart broken.With commitment and training,most anything can be overcome.Good luck and do the right thing.

  31. brinks says:

    I have three large dogs. Two are huskies, the other is a hound/shepherd mix. If any of the following were not true, I wouldn’t have ANY dogs:

    1) I live close to work and can often run home on a lunch break to let them out.
    2) The fiance and I have pretty opposite work schedules, so the guys are rarely left home alone all day to chew, poop, or otherwise destroy.
    3) I have a fenced-in back yard, so I don’t have to take them all for a walk (or, rather, let them take ME for a walk).
    4) I’m not much of a traveler, so I don’t have to worry about who is going to take care of them while I’m gone. I travel once a year for work, but the fiance is still home.
    5) We’re homebodies, so we’re not gone for long periods of time. Aside from work, it’s a couple hours here and there for errands, dinner, or a movie.

    If you work long, crazy hours, have a great social life, or like to travel, don’t get a dog unless you have the means to hire a dogsitter or can afford to put them in boarding.

    Also, consider adopting an older dog from a rescue or shelter. Depending on the type of care and attention the rescue/shelter provides, you might luck out and get a couple of pre-trained huskies like we did. :)

  32. Kuri says:

    Pet shelters, and, well, any place that deals with pets should begin blacklisting people who give up animals for reasons like “Of it’s not cute anymore” or “it no longer matches our house.”

    seriously, blacklist these people nationally

  33. Rick Sphinx says:

    Budget in $500/animal for Vet/food etc, you can’t forget about these expenses before getting a new pet.

    • wellfleet says:

      Ahahahahaha. I don’t know where you live or what you feed your dog, but between quality food that isn’t full of garbage ingredients, annual shots, flea/tick, heartworm prevention and 1-2 stays at a kennel, it’s more like $1000. Add toys so they focus their chewing on appropriate things, treats, training classes, and the average yearly cost is closer to $1200.

  34. Rick Sphinx says:

    Budget in $500/animal per Year, for Vet/food etc, you can’t forget about these expenses before getting a new pet.

  35. SilentAgenger says:

    (I posted this in a similar Consumerist thread recently, but it bears repeating) –>

    For potential (and even current) dog owners: If at all possible, volunteer at your local Humane Society. It’s just a few hours out of your day, and just once or twice is all it takes (if nothing else, just sit through their initiation session). You’ll be floored by what you learn about dogs and the responsibility of being a pet owner. You and your dog will benefit from the experience.

  36. Zydia says:

    What works for me is playing with my neighbor’s dog who’s always hanging around. And I pretend that I’m a rich person with a staff that does all the work.