Getting a dog: 10 questions before buying a dog

What you should think about before buying a dog

A dog brings a lot of fun and excitement into your life and can sometimes turn it upside down. However, to ensure that your future life together runs as smoothly as possible, you should consider some important factors that come with living with a four-legged friend. Your life situation will change radically with a dog: After all, you are taking on responsibility for a living creature and at the same time gaining a faithful companion as a family member.

To give you an overview of the requirements you should fulfil as a dog owner, ask yourself 10 questions that you should answer before buying a dog to find out whether a dog is really right for you.

1. Living situation

With the question of the housing situation, some further questions arise:

  • How big is my flat, my house?
  • Do all the people in the household agree to a dog moving in?
  • Are there any allergy sufferers among them?
  • Can you provide a quiet retreat for a four-legged friend?
  • Do you have a garden or do you have to climb several floors to get to your flat?
  • Do you already own other pets, for example a cat, birds or a companion?

These criteria are relevant when looking for a suitable pet. Depending on your living situation, you should carefully consider whether and, if so, what kind of dog would be a good fit for you.

If you are renting, make sure you get written permission from your landlord to keep a dog. If you plan to move frequently, remember that finding a place to live will be more difficult if you have a dog.

2. Costs

Do I have the financial means to cover all the costs?

In addition to the initial one-time costs for the purchase and initial equipment, you will also have to pay for food, care, worming and vaccinations, as well as dog tax and insurance. In addition, your dog can become ill and a visit to the vet becomes unavoidable - be it for a cold or even chronic or severe illnesses that require many visits to the vet or even operations.

Our tip: Find out about special health insurance that also covers operations. In an emergency, you can then be helped quickly without getting into financial difficulties.

3. Time

What does my time management look like?

One aspect of dog ownership that should not be underestimated is the time factor. A dog has individual needs:

Depending on the dog, you should plan at least 1-2 hours a day for walking and also take time for other activities with the dog and dog training.

A dog is a pack animal and usually does not like to be alone. A general rule is that you should not leave your pet alone for more than 4-5 hours. If you are going to work full time, all day, you should check beforehand whether your dog may be allowed to come to work with you or whether you have a person or foster home who will look after him while you are away.

Some breeds of dog not only want to be exercised physically, but should be challenged and encouraged with mental work. Think carefully about whether you have enough time available and can actually plan it in such a way that your job, family, friends and free time can be combined with a dog.

Our tip: Ask around! Maybe there are neighbours, friends or family members who can help you raise and care for your four-legged friend? Keyword: dog sharing - sharing a dog between several people is becoming increasingly popular and offers an alternative to having your own dog. However, not every dog is suitable for this and special care should be taken.

4. Life planning

Can I take care of a dog in the long term and do it justice?

You should be aware that a dog can live up to 18 years, depending on breed and size. The life expectancy of larger dogs is usually less than that of smaller dogs. It is important to consider this aspect when thinking about buying a dog. Your life cannot be planned down to the smallest detail. Be sure that you want your four-legged friend by your side in good times and bad - after all, a dog wants to become a permanent member of the family.

5. Education

Can I give my dog a good upbringing?

No matter whether you get a puppy, a young dog or an older dog: four-legged friends need education and clear structures in their lives. In addition to basic commands and housetraining, it is especially important to socialise your dog. Since dogs also go through puberty and test their limits again and again throughout their lives, ongoing education is often no child's play. It is important that you know your dog's behaviour and how to deal with it. Some dog breeds have special characteristics and preferences which you should know before buying a dog and which you definitely have to take into account. Older dogs need to learn to be by your side and follow your commands. Depending on the experience you have had, this is often not an easy path. The more you know about the dog's past beforehand, the better you can act and respond to him.

6. Patience and consistency

Am I patient and consistent enough for a dog?

Like people, dogs have individual characters, different behaviours and smaller or larger "quirks". Your darling will not always understand your requests and commands straight away, sometimes he may deliberately ignore them or want to discuss them. Has he once again knocked over and rummaged through the rubbish bin or repeatedly stolen your food from your plate? Situations like these can be exhausting and a test of patience. Dogs sense human behaviour - especially nervousness, impatience and fear can have devastating effects on a dog. As an owner, you are constantly challenged to keep your nerve and to show your darling his limits again and again with loving consistency and strictness.

7. Expertise in dealing with dogs

What expertise do I have?

If a dog is larger than 40 cm and/or weighs more than 20 kg, dog owners must provide a so-called small certificate of competence. This is a personal certificate that certifies your basic theoretical knowledge about dogs and dog ownership. The examination of the expertise is carried out by a recognised expert, a veterinarian or a dog trainer. Be aware that you have to provide such proof and prove this specific knowledge. If you want to take in a so-called listed dog of category 2 or 1 (i.e. a breed that is considered dangerous or suspected of being dangerous), further requirements are necessary.

But even small dogs, for which no legal proof is required, can be quite dangerous. Here, too, make sure you have a sound knowledge and education in order to be able to keep your dog properly.

8. Flexibility and willingness to adapt

Am I willing to adapt my lifestyle to the needs of the dog?

Having a dog enhances your quality of life, but may also limit your leisure activities and holiday planning:

  • Hotel holidays: there are many dog-friendly hotels and guesthouses - make sure that dogs are allowed and even welcome. If other dogs are present, your pelt-nose will be able to get used to the unfamiliar situation more quickly. You will also make friends more quickly.
  • Air travel: Small dogs can usually be transported in suitable bags in the hand luggage. Large dogs must be carried in boxes in the hold. Please note that air travel can be stressful for your four-legged friend. Therefore, you should consider whether it makes more sense not to fly or to leave your pet in good hands for the duration of the holiday.
  • Hobbies: Do you have many hobbies or do you prefer to spend your weekends in restaurants, bars or discos?

Remember that your dog prefers to be with you. Therefore, think carefully about how much you are willing to rearrange your activities to accommodate your dog and his needs. There are many sports and many other hobbies that you can do with your dog. A round of doga, for example, will improve your general well-being and make you feel relaxed together.

9. Tidiness and cleanliness

Can I cope with mess, dirt and smells?

Throwing your hands over your head won't help - dogs love to roll around in mud, leaves or worse. Especially in bad weather, cleaning dog paws and floors is the order of the day.

You can also expect hairy times with most dog breeds - especially during the shedding season (spring & autumn).

Puppies and young dogs, as well as bored dogs, can be prone to nibbling furniture or chewing shoes. Many four-legged friends also like to redecorate the home by moving loose items from A to B. If you miss a sock - have a look in the dog basket.

If you step in a puddle when you get up in the morning, or if various aromas make your eyes water, you know that your dog is not yet house-trained.

And undigested pieces of bone or food will be retrieved with pleasure on the fluffy carpet.

Male dogs and protesting dogs may also mark your walls or upholstered furniture.

Think carefully about whether you will be able to cope with these changes in your household before the four-legged addition.

Our tip: Talk to other dog owners or dog trainers who have many years of experience in dog ownership. They can tell you about their everyday life, share their experiences and give you tips on how to overcome these small hurdles in everyday life with a dog.

10. Age

What age of dog suits me?

Do you want a puppy, a young dog or a senior dog as your partner? No matter what age you decide on: It is important to find out exactly what your dog's needs are at that particular stage of life. Because the decision for a dog at a certain age influences, for example, how much time you have to spend with your four-legged friend (e.g. for training, playing and occupation) and how high the costs are for keeping your pet.

Dog yes or no: How to make the right decision

Now that you have gained an insight into life with a dog, you have realised that getting a four-legged friend will bring about many changes in your life. There are many advantages to keeping a dog, including the exercise of walking in the fresh air and the ease of contact with people who love their faithful companions as much as you do. However, the decision for or against getting a dog is complex and not easy. It affects the entire family and should therefore be made with consideration for all family members.

Our tip: Try out a dog

Take enough time for your decision and let it mature. Ask dog owners in your circle of friends and relatives about the possibility of taking their dog into care for a few days to help you make a practical decision. Keep in mind, however, that these dogs are usually already trained and you will not get a fully realistic picture of dog ownership for a few days. Ask as many questions as necessary to assess the extent to which a four-legged friend would challenge you.

If you still think a dog would fit into your life, congratulations on your decision! Next, you can think about which dog suits you best.

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