Nearly 40% of U.S. households own a dog, according to a 2018 study by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Equating to more than 48 million households, it’s safe to say that dog ownership is a desire among many Americans.
If you’re thinking about welcoming a furry friend into your home, you might find yourself asking — when is the best time to get a dog? Many have considered taking the plunge throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic — 33% of Americans according to a 2020 survey by CNBC.
Dog ownership takes commitment; socially, emotionally, physical, and financially, so it’s important to make sure that you’re ready to be responsible for another living being. While every person is different, there are a few key factors to consider before buying a puppy or adopting a rescue dog.
When is the Best Time to Get a Dog? 5 Factors to Consider
During non-pandemic times, are you someone who constantly has the travel bug? People who travel frequently, whether for work or for pleasure, might not lead a lifestyle that lends well to dog ownership.
Unlike cats, dogs are highly dependent and need higher levels of supervision, training, and maintenance. If you’re a frequent traveler (and don’t have plans or the ability to bring a pup along), the benefits of having a dog might not do much for you, and constantly having to take your dog to a kennel or get a sitter wouldn’t necessarily be fair to him, either.
Similar to your lifestyle, it’s important to consider your living situation. Make sure you have the room you need to accommodate your pup and all of the supplies you need. Obviously, bigger dogs will require bigger beds and crates, so it’s best to factor this into your decision early.
The most important question to ask yourself is: will a dog thrive in my lifestyle? If you’re undecided, you might want to consider holding off until the answer is yes.
With most people working from home right now, pet ownership might make a lot of sense. But it’s important to think about what that looks like once remote working is no longer the norm.
If your “normal” is 80-hour weeks in the office, and you don’t have anyone else at home to help watch your pooch, you likely won’t have the time you need to dedicate to taking care of a dog. However, if you’re retired, normally work remotely, or work in an office but live nearby, you’ll be more likely to be able to come up with a daily schedule that works well for both you and a furry friend. The good news is that remote working and general flexibility in the workplace is becoming more commonplace, so it might not be out of the question for you to become a dog owner in this tech-enabled environment.
Your family situation is an important factor to consider when deciding whether or not you should get a dog. Having a partner or additional family members in the household will mean that there are more resources to help you take care of a dog, especially if you have kids that are a little bit older. If you have younger kids, you might want to consider researching some of the breeds that are known to be compatible with children.
There are other family situations where it might not be ideal to get a dog. For example, if you just welcomed a baby into your family, managing raising and training a pup and caring for your newborn might be overwhelming.
Raising a pup might be more expensive than you think. A CNBC survey reveals that dog owners spend an average of $1,201 a year on their pups, and that number can be a lot higher if Fido has health issues or needs rigorous professional training. Before you dive into the world of dog ownership, make sure you have some money set aside to allocate to your dog’s wellbeing, factoring in costs associated with grooming, vet visits, food, and general pet items like crates, supplements, collars, and toys.
While there are certain life circumstances that make getting a dog a little easier, there might also be times of the year that cater better to bringing a new pooch into the home.
If you live in an area where you experience all four seasons, training might be easier in the warmer months. As much as a puppy makes for an exciting holiday gift, taking him outside every hour in the snow might not be the most enjoyable winter activity. The best time of year to get a dog will differ for everyone, but it can make things easier to line it up with a vacation or break. For example, if you’re a schoolteacher and have summers off, this could be a good opportunity to spend time training and getting a pup settled.
On top of these factors, we also recommend taking the time to research what breed is best for your lifestyle. Whether you decide on an easy-to-train family dog or an active, independent companion, if you do dog ownership right, it’s always more rewarding than it is challenging.