We all love fuzzy little puppies and it can be very tempting to jump in feet first and just get the first cute puppy you find.
I’m not one to judge since I have 9 adult dogs and a pup. That said, for a lot of first time dog owners, the things we need to consider or wish we would have considered ahead of time are many.
Does the breed I like fit my lifestyle? If you live in a tiny urban apartment you probably want to pass up that adorable bullmastiff pup because when he grows up he’s going to take up the whole room. If you are super active and love hiking, biking, etc. you may want to consider a working or sporting breed who is athletic enough to keep up with your busy lifestyle. A lab, doodle, border collie, shepherd or other such breed might be just the ticket for you. If you’re looking for a super mellow dog who just wants to flop on the couch with you don’t get a herding dog or a hound. They are bred to run, for hours on end. In short, I’d make a list of the breeds you think you like and do some careful research regarding their behavior, activity levels and other traits.
Will this breed bother my allergies? If you have severe allergies, you may LOVE the look of a Siberian Husky or other northern breed but I can almost guarantee these are NOT the breeds for you. If you hate cleaning up dog hair off your clothes and furniture, a lab or golden retriever might not be a good fit. My labs shed so much we’ve just got a shop vac sitting in the house all the time to suck up the little fur balls we find behind all the furniture.
How much will my annual veterinary costs be? Once you have settled on a breed or type of dog you’ll need to consider the time and monetary costs of your new little friend. For a medium to large dog like mine the annual vet visit can run between $200 and $300. That gets you all the needed vaccinations but you still need to consider monthly flea and tick protection as well as heartworm prevention. These can be year round costs in most of the country. For dogs the size of mine (50-80 lbs) a years worth of Frontline will run between $70 and $90 per dog. We use a Proheart injection every six months to prevent heartworms and that runs me about $100 per dog for the year.
How much do training classes cost? It is super important that your new pup be properly socialized and trained so he doesn’t become an unruly embarrassing adult. We’ve all had one of those dogs who jumps up on everyone he meets or pulls like a sled dog on a leash. Its exhausting and can be embarrassing. Better to get your new friend trained and teach him good manners from the start. Typical training classes can run anywhere from $80 -$150 for a 6-8 week basic training course. Most pups will need at least one class to get those basic commands under their belts and then they will need you to be consistent practicing those commands so they become reliable. Training constitutes a monetary cost but also a time commitment. Classes usually take up one hour a week but the daily practice also adds up, ten minutes at a time a couple times a day. Make sure you’re ready to commit to this before you get a pup.
How about this one… Do I REALLY need/want a puppy or would an older dog fit into my life better? Puppies are adorable but they come with their own list of downfalls. They require housebreaking, they chew on things when they are teething ( or when they are just bored), the need lots of exercise and training. With an adult dog you might be able to skip the housebreaking if you’re lucky, they are most likely over the teething stage. Some adult dogs will still require a lot of exercise but generally a nice daily walk will suffice. Training may have already been done too and even if it hasn’t an adult dog will have a longer attention span and may catch on quickly to what you’re asking him to do.
How much time/ money do I want to spend on grooming? Some breeds require nothing more than a weekly once over with a curry comb to keep their coats nice. These would be short coated breeds like labs, mastiffs, boxers. Dogs with drop ears will need to have them cleaned regularly as well. Nails will need to be trimmed every couple months depending on your dogs activity levels. Some breeds, like poodles and doodles, require more coat maintenance. Daily brushing is beneficial and professional grooming every 6-8 weeks is recommended. Grooming costs vary widely depending on the size and coat condition of your dog so you’ll want to look into this ahead of time to get an accurate estimate of your costs here. For my standard poodle, a kennel cut (a very easy basic haircut) costs around $60 and he needs to be trimmed about every 8 weeks to keep the coat in good condition. Fancier or more intricate cuts will cost more.
What should I feed my dog and how much does that cost? We always recommend you feed your dog the best dog food you can. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but it does need to be high quality. You’ll notice that the higher end brands in pet stores can be pretty pricy. This is one of those times where you get what you pay for. If you choose to buy the cheapest dog food on the shelf, your pup’s health will likely suffer because of it. That will lead to increased vet bills and an unpleasant experience for both you and your new dog. Please, if there is ONE thing you don’t skimp on, make it this. Just like us, you dog’s health is tied very closely to his diet. For people, so many of the degenerative diseases we suffer from are because of what we put into our bodies on a daily basis. The same is true for your dog. If your dog’s food is full of low quality ingredients, dyes and preservatives, its almost a guarantee you’re going to see the effects of that somewhere. It may be digestive issues and gas, it could be dry flaky skin and dull coat or something like yeasty ears and itchy skin. My dog food recommendation is always Life’s Abundance, but that is simply because we believe so strongly in its quality. My dogs thrive on it and its budget friendlier than many of the high end pet shop brands. In a nutshell, do your research and don’t cut corners with your dog food. You can get info on my brand here www.lifesabundance.com/creeksidedoodles and don’t hesitate to message me with questions. I always love to talk about my furbabies!
What kinds of toys/chews are best? With a new puppy, you’ll definitely want to have plenty of toys and chews on hand. This will help you redirect him when he chooses to chew on something inappropriate, like your favorite pair of shoes. We love KONG toys because they are super durable, they never bounce the same way twice and you can usually fill them with treats to keep your pup busy longer. We also really like deer antlers as chew toys. These things last forever. SO much longer than those bleached bones at the pet shops and they are less brittle so less prone to breaking into sharp pieces that could hurt your dog. Heavy duty rope bones are great tug toys but should only be used under supervision as some pups tend to chew pieces off the rope and eat them if left unattended. That can lead to some potentially serious complications. There’s also a newer ball available called a Wunderball that is very durable and for those dogs who love to fetch, will last way longer than a tennis ball. It’s also supposed to help clean their teeth. We’ll let you know once ours arrive.
If I have to travel, will I take my pet with me or will I board him and how much does boarding cost? If you travel, you’ll need to make arrangements for your furry friend to either accompany you or to be boarded while you are away. Some hotels and resorts are dog friendly and you may be able to take Fido along on your vacations. However, for business trips and travels that are not dog friendly, you’ll need someone to keep an eye on your friend. Boarding fees usually vary with the size of your dog but run anywhere from $25-$35 per night on average in my area. You can also have a pet sitter come to your house and care for your dog there if you prefer. There are usually several to choose from. Just make sure you get references. The cost per day can be a bit higher than a boarding kennel but it may be less stressful for your dog as he will be able to stay in his home where he feels comfortable.