Owning a dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. But owning a dog is a big responsibility and one for which you need to be prepared. It is not a coincidence that people suggest that you get a dog before you have a baby – quite simply, the levels of commitment and focus required for the latter are very similar for those needed for the former. In a sense, having a dog is a great training ground for any parent to be. So, when it comes to dogs, what are the essentials that you will need in order to be viewed as a competent and reliable ‘parent’? Here are a few key things:
Plan for their health
Dogs need to go to the doctor, and it happens much more frequently than you might realise. And, as is the case with human doctors, a visit to the vet is expensive. It is for this reason that pet insurance is a very good idea. It means that no matter what the problem, or what the time of day is that the emergency arises, you can load your dog into the car and take it to the vet, without having to worry about where the cash will come from to pay for the treatment. A visit to the vet can be alarmingly expensive, and many vets won’t even begin to examine an injured animal until a hefty deposit has been secured. Having a health plan in place takes care of all of this – and they genuinely are very affordable.
It is a very simple and painless process and it is completely worth it. Has your dog microchipped so that if it ever escapes it can be identified if found? It might seem like an unnecessary thing to do, but the reality is that no matter how much they love you, dogs do like to roam and explore. And they are not always that good at finding their way home afterward. A micro-chip simply means that if they escape, they can be identified, and you will be contacted. Ask anyone who has ever lost a dog how much they regretted not having a chip installed.
A dog needs a place to sleep – and it really shouldn’t be your bed. Get them their own bed and a place to put it. The exact location of the bed is up to you. If the dog is going to be an outside animal, then you might want to invest in a kennel. If it is an indoor dog, then a crate is often a good idea – especially if it is a puppy. If you don’t feel that either of these are necessary then make sure that the bed is in a safe and secure place, that it is warm and not isolated from the rest of the family. Dogs are social animals and they like to feel part of the pack.
As is the case with children, dogs can get bored if they are left alone for too long. And when they are bored, they tend to dig or get up to mischief. In order to prevent that from happening be ready to invest in a few toys. Balls, chewy items or Kongs are all items that can keep them entertained for hours. And if all those fail then there is always the option of getting another dog to keep the first one company.