I knew I wanted a puppy or a dog for years. Years and years and years. I couldn’t wait!
We had kittens (which turned into cats) when I was growing up. My mum LOVES them. She loves dogs too but hates the rain and knew she’d be the one to take on the daily walks. So – quite rightly – she decided against adopting one.
(Responsible pet-ownership 101 right there!)
As for me, I wanted one as a kid, teenager and into adulthood.
But, as soon as I left college, I travelled. First in my job and then for myself. Taking years out here and there to explore, live in new countries and basically do all I could do to experience this amazing planet.
Adopting a pup or dog at that time just wasn’t responsible, or even possible, with many of my destinations involving long-haul travel.
So I did the next best thing whenever I could… I volunteered at rescue centres.
While travelling I sought out animal rescue centres and offered to walk the dogs or cuddle the cats! And of course, help promote their wonderful centres to expats living there or holidaymakers who may be able to give one a wonderful home wherever they lived.
Sidebar – most rescue centres are geared up to help with the paperwork and transportation of a pooch so they can go to loving homes, wherever that may be. So if this is something you’d be interested in – as SO many domesticated animals need a home – then when you’re next on hols, Google to see if there’s a rescue centre nearby and go visit. If only to give their animals a bit of extra love.
Until… I finally found a base and settled down.
I was ready.
I had my own home, enough money to cover costs, worked from home, experience of being around many different types of dogs, and I felt I was somewhat knowledgeable about all that’s involved.
Yes, my life with a new family member was about to begin. And I couldn’t wait!
So that’s my story.
I felt ready my entire life, but with the life choices I had made, I knew it would have been unfair on the pup to get her any sooner than I did.
How about you?
I’m guessing you want to adopt a pup, otherwise you wouldn’t be here! If so, it’s important to take some time to truthfully answer some key questions to figure out if now is the right time.
It may not be.
But it will help you know when it is. Just like it did me.
So here are a few questions to ask yourself before you head to the rescue centre or breeder.
Where are you in your life journey?
If you’re planning a big round-the-world trip within the next couple of years, it’s probably not be the best time to think about getting a pup. But even an imminent job move or life change should be considered thoroughly.
Adopting a dog is a commitment for upwards of 12 years.
Now I don’t expect you to know where you’ll be in ten years’ time, even five can be a push for some people (me included), but just think about what you want out of life or any significant changes that may happen over the next few years…
A new job?
Starting a family?
Then consider whether a dog fits in with that possibility. Do you have the stability to commit long-term?
How much knowledge do you have about raising a pup?
You don’t have to know everything, and honestly, you couldn’t anyway, but you do need to prepare yourself. For starters there’s…
- Puppy-proofing the house
- House training
- Basic command training
- Regular walks
- Regular play
- Enrichment activities
There’s a ton of info online, and – something I found invaluable in my early days – The Happy Puppy Handbook by Pippa Mattinson is packed full of great tips that get you prepared before your new pup arrives, and then guided through the first few days, weeks and months.
Raising a pup requires time, availability, patience, a safe environment and the ability to meet the financial obligation that comes with it.
Make sure you’re clued up beforehand.
How much experience have you had around pups?
You don’t need experience of puppies, but you should know that it’ll be like raising an unruly toddler!
They’ll be curious and try to get into everything without realising the potential implications.
Puppy-proofing your home is a must.
But there’s also the lack of sleep as they nap frequently but for short spurts of time. So be prepared to be awake multiple times in the night for toilet trips!
Ultimately, your life will be pretty disrupted in the first few months, so if you haven’t been around pups much, it’ll help massively to do your research upfront to be prepared for the disruption.
How much time do you have?
Puppies are a handful.
They need your attention for many hours throughout the day (and night). And it doesn’t stop as they head into adulthood.
A dog will always need exercise, feeding and company.
- House training
- Regular walks
- Enrichment activities
- Obedience training
- And of course, cuddle time!
Can you take time off in the first few weeks to be at home most of the time? If you don’t work from home, can you make it home at lunch to take him out for a walk? If not, do you have someone who will be available during the day or the finances to hire a dog-sitter/walker?
Do you have the time to commit to training your pup – both at home and through classes? Social enrichment is also important, do you have time to meet up with other dogs for them to play together?
Time is essential when adopting a puppy or an adult dog. Make sure you have plenty available or have made appropriate arrangements that they’re not alone for long periods of time.
Do you have enough money to cover vets’ bills, vaccines, good quality food, grooming costs, etc.?
Puppies don’t come cheap, and don’t forget about him reaching senior age when possible ailments may arise.
Not to mention vaccinations, unexpected vet visits, dog trainers, food costs, doggy treats, crates, dog beds, dog collars, ID tags, leashes, toys, and then there’s possibly dog sitter costs if you head off on holiday without him…
Can you afford it?
Remember, the first year is often the priciest. So be honest with yourself. If you can’t right now, wait until you can.
Do you own or rent? Live with anyone?
Your housing situation will also play a part in whether now is the right time to adopt a puppy.
If you rent, are you allowed pets? Do you have adequate space? Is there outdoor space or are you prepared to venture outside regularly throughout the day for pee trips, playtime and the longer walks?
Do you live with anyone? Are they also keen to live with a dog? Do they have any allergies? Are there children in the house? Or other pets?
All of these need to be considered to a) make sure you’re in a suitable situation to adopt, and b) choose the breed wisely.
If you’re in a small apartment, you shouldn’t adopt a Great Dane.
If you have kids, you should think about breeds that are (in general) renowned for being family-friendly.
If there are other pets in the house, consider their needs first. How will they adapt to having a boisterous pup on their turf?
Adopting a puppy will bring so much joy and love into your life, but it is tough in the early days and a big commitment – to your time and your finances.
Before you jump in, spend time considering all the points above. Do your research on the different breeds. Calculate costs. Speak to dog owners or rescue centre personnel to understand the day-to-day a bit more.
Then, if you after all of that you think you are ready, adopt (or buy if going down the pedigree route) and get ready for the best years of your life 🐶 ❤️