Thinking About Getting a Puppy/Dog

Monetary Cost of Dog Ownership

As well as the cost of buying a dog - likely £700 or more for a pedigree puppy - there is the on going cost. Generally the bigger the dog the greater the cost as they require more food and larger sizes.

According to research by Sainsbury’s pet insurance (2011), the average annual cost is £1183 per year, and due to inflation is set to get even more expensive. This cost covers pet food, toys, grooming, vet fees for treatments not covered by insurance, and kennels.

It does not include the initial purchase cost. Nor does it include the all important and essential cost of Pet Insurance - Life-Long Cover likely to average £400 or more per year, bringing the average annual cost to £1583.

Life-Long insurance cover is highly recommended as it's the only cover that will continue to pay for a long-term health condition for life; all other covers will pay for 12 months or till a fixed monetary amount is reached.



Long-Term Responsibility

A dog is dependant on you to meet all its Basic Needs - a suitable place to live, a suitable healthy diet, ability to behave normally, appropriate company and protection from pain, suffering, injury & disease, over its lifespan. On average, life-expectancy is 13yrs, so can be more. This also includes planning for the provision of your dog, whether in relation to your daily routines, going on holidays or outings.


Time and energy

Dog's need exercise and companionship to remain well-balanced and happy. This will affect other activities that you may be involved in or wish to do in the future. If you fail to meet these needs it is likely to lead to destructive or other behavioural issues.



 Dogs Need Company

Dogs are social animals and do not cope with being left alone. You must never leave them alone more than four hours at a time. If you  plan to leave your dog alone while you are at work all day then a dog is not a suitable companion for you. How would you like to be forced to hold on and not go to the toilet, not see or speak to anyone or be locked up with little stimulation for 8 or more hours at a time? You must also remember that this goes for the life-time of the dog and not just a consideration in the here and now.




How big is your home - will the size of dog you choose have enough space?

Do you have a garden and what size?

How much exercise will the dog need?
Generally the bigger the dog the more space and exercise/walking they require - do you have the time and the level of fitness/wellness to meet the required exercise needs?

What is your physic as the bigger the dog the greater their physical strength and harder to physically control e.g. if you are very petit, are you going to be able to manage a dog the size of a St. Bernard?



Important to consider the characteristics of a breed and what they will be like to live with in practice  in relation to their energy levels, behavioural needs, grooming requirements, size etc. It is also important to realise that there is great differences between different lines/strains of the same breed e.g. working and show stock. For example, Border Collies are bred for their working ability. Before taking on such a breed consider do you really have the time, energy and space required for a dog with stamina to keep going all day and requires huge amounts of exercise and mental stimulation to remain a well-balanced contented dog?

Test drive some adult dogs of the breeds you are considering. Possibly attend some dog shows, local dog obedience training schools, local breed clubs and ask owners, dog trainers and breeders lots of questions. Take a walk in local parks and ask owners about their dogs. Dog Advisory Council Buying a Puppy is a useful question and answer guide in helping you choose the right dog for you. Perfect Pup is a good website for A-Z of breeds information.


Coat length and Grooming

If you get a dog with a long coat are you going o have the time and patience to brush its coat daily to prevent it from developing painful mates and the money for the frequent trips to the groomers? Or are you better with a short-coated dog that needs brushing once a week and is unlikely to need a trip o the groomers?


Dog's Energy Levels

A dog's energy level is vitally important to successful match-making. Someone with a busy lifestyle, full of exuberant activities won't find a sedate laid back dog to be a good choice. Someone who leads a quiet sedentary lifestyle won't get along well with a high energy dog that needs plenty of work and stimulation to keep them content and out of trouble.


Dog's Companionship Potential

It may be important to consider a dog's companionship potential when choosing your dog.  If you want a dog with a "velcro personality" - highly affectionate, loves to cuddle, prefers to sleep on your bed and rarely leaves your side then you need to look for this in your dog as you would be miserable with an independent dog, who is adverse to cuddles, preferring to do their own thing and lies away from you, only showing up if summoned, it's time for a walk or food is on the agenda. However, if you would prefer a dog that curls up in his own favourite spot and ignores you while you carry out work requiring hours of concentration then a more independent dog is likely to be a better choice.



Mind Your Pup’s Manners or They Never Will - taking your new dog to obedience classes may feel unnecessary. However, the sooner they learn some basic commands (“Come” “Sit” “Stay”), the happier and safer you’ll both be as you will now be able to communicate with your dog and your dog will understand what it is you want them to do. Another advantage of obedience classes is that they allow your dog to learn and practice being social with dogs of different sizes and dispositions — and their human companions. After classes have ended it is vital that you continue to practice and use the cues or else your dog will forget them - 'if you don't use it, you lose it' is also true of dogs. It is also vital to choose classes that only use positive-reinforcement and never punitive methods.



Considering Training Your Dog as Your 'Guides for the Mind Assistance Dog'

Necessary traits common to all successful Assistance Dogs to look for – calm demeanour, solid handler focus, friendly, without suspicion, aggression or timidity, highly trainable, yet capable of doing the same job day in and day out without getting bored and inherently driven to seek out and perform work.