Thinking of getting a dog? Make sure that you’re ready for the responsibility that comes with having a four-legged best friend around. You’re going to need a lot of patience.
Some people may think that being a dog owner is all cutesy outfits, soft furry snuggles, and sweet puppy kisses. Well, you do get those. But there’s also walks and playtime and feeding and grooming, even visits to the vet. You won’t really know how much owning a dog changes your schedule and routine until you’re actually living with one.
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t get a dog. Far from it! But you should make the decision with eyes wide open. A dog will be a lovable and adorable friend for life, but there will be good days and bad days. Don’t be surprised by more than a little misbehavior and definitely expect to deal with some dog difficulties.
Here are four common problems you may find yourself dealing with as a dog owner.
1. Tidying up Your Dog’s Messes, Big and Small, Everywhere and All the Time
This can be anything from a little dog drool on the couch to inappropriate defecation on the kitchen floor. Get ready for constant vigilance, because you’re going to need it to keep your house clean and presentable.
The worst of these messes can unavoidable and regrettably expected—such as when your puppy younger than three months. Sometimes there’s ingrained behavior in your adopted furbaby that’s making them misbehave. You can train your dog to eventually only urinate and defecate at certain times and in certain places, of course.
The minor inconveniences—drool, hair or fur on the carpet or furniture—are easier to manage. You can have designated, easier-to-clean areas for your dog to roam. However, if you’re the type that wants their dog around all the time, you can simply adjust your routine. Use a vacuum more often to deal with pet hair and fur, especially if someone in the household has allergy-prone skin or a sensitive nose. Deep clean your rugs and carpets yearly. Keep a lint roller on hand to use on your clothes before going out.
2. Wondering How Your Dog Chooses What and What Not to Eat, Drink, and Chew On
What’s in your dog’s mouth right now? You might be one of the lucky ones and never have to deal with this question, but this will probably come up at least once. It can be a plant, loose paper from the trash, something they dug up in the garden, and even their own poop. Yuck, we know.
Certain dogs will have certain favorites. If you get a puppy, be prepared for teething and keep your shoes out of reach! You may also want to keep your young pup confined to an area without expensive furniture. Try giving your pet a toy or bone to chew on instead—but know that even fully grown dogs will sometimes reject a new toy for no reason at all.
Bigger dogs that can reach the toilet may be tempted to drink out of it. Keep the bathroom door closed at all times to decrease the chances of your dog developing this habit. Outdoor dogs may also be able to reach birdbaths and other similar water-filled containers.
You may also have to deal with a picky eater. If you are having trouble finding something your dog will eat, consult your veterinarian to rule out any illness. They may also make food recommendations based on your pet’s age, breed, weight, and other specifics.
3. Permanently Changing Your Schedule and Daily Routine to Accommodate Your Furry Friend
One of the biggest surprises of dog ownership is just how time-consuming and tiring it can be. Even if you find most dog-related tasks and responsibilities fun, they will drain you of energy and replace downtime you previously had for other hobbies or recreational activities.
Do you ever sleep in? Not anymore. Sometimes you will need to take walks with your dog at the break of dawn and in freezing weather, mustering the last dregs of your patience as your pet stops to sniff every tree and rock you come across.
You will have to set aside whole days for bathing, grooming, and trimming—or spend money to have this done. You need to plan errands and dates around your dog’s feeding and walking times. As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also have to deal with your dog’s sad eyes and moping as your head out the door.
It’s not just your day-to-day life that needs to adjust. With a dog, you can no longer stay out late or go on a vacation at a moment’s notice. Spontaneous decisions like those are only possible if your dog comes with you or if you don’t live alone. Who will take care of your pup otherwise?
Of course, you can always find a dog sitter, but that can’t be done instantly. Some dogs also experience severe separation anxiety when their owners leave them, leading to messy and, at times, destructive misbehavior.
4. Setting Aside Funds for Vet Bills, Just in Case Your Dogs Needs an Emergency Checkup
What is the first thing you do when your regular paycheck comes in? You probably set aside money to pay for health insurance, utility bills, rent, mortgage, student loans, or whatever other financial obligations you have. If you’re getting a dog, add a sizable pet fund to that practice.
As a responsible pet owner, you need to factor in more than the expense of yearly vet visits. Certain breeds will have typical health issues, so look them up now to be prepared. You don’t want to be caught unprepared when your dog’s behavior changes and it starts to worry you.
On top of vet bills, consider the extras. You may not always have the time to take care of your pet. Having some money tucked away for occasional or regular professional groomers, dog walkers, and the like will help you manage your schedule without neglecting your furry, four-legged best friend.
Resources — Bustle, Cosmopolitan, The Spruce Pets
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