I’m Not Ready For A Dog If…

Getting a dog is a huge decade or more commitment. A dog is hilarious, cuddly, and wonderful, but it’s also a lot of responsibility and work. You’re responsible for another creature’s food, bathroom habits, behavior, health, and happiness. Here are a few of the things you need to consider before adopting a dog.

  • I’m renting and my home doesn’t allow dogs. I promise you that you will get caught. Most management companies will evict you as quickly as they’re legally allowed to if you don’t have the pet removed within a few days. You’ll be scrambling to either find a new place to live, or find a new home for your dog. Moreover, you’ll be making it harder for people to rent with pets, because sneaking animals in is exactly the kind of thing that landlords hate.
  • I can’t afford the pet deposit. In my area, pet deposits generally range from $150-$350 per pet. There is also usually some “pet rent” added to your bill, and regardless of what your pet damages, the pet deposit and rent usually aren’t refundable. I’ve also always had any pet damage taken out of my regular deposit rather than the pet deposit, so it’s basically money you’re charged to have a pet living in the dwelling with you. Sucks, doesn’t it? Well, pets do cause landlords additional issues. They damage the property, make noise to irritate other tenants, and poop on the landscaping. Irresponsible pet owners have made it harder for everyone to rent with pets, and trying to sneak a pet into your place only adds to the problem. At apartments I’ve rented, you could be charged back pet rent, fined, and the pet deposit in order to keep your pet. Or they could simply choose to evict you.
  • I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford the pet deposit at my next apartment or house. This is an incredibly common reason for pets to lose their homes. Circumstances do change, but take a realistic look at your plans and try to plan ahead. Sometimes pet deposits can be waived if you’re moving within the same management company, or paid over a couple of months, but that’s not always an option. Have a realistic plan for keeping your dog with you for his entire expected life span, and then some.
  • I own and there are HOA or Home Owner’s Insurance restrictions on dogs, or the type of dog I’d like. See if you can change insurance companies or get your prospective pet approved by your HOA, but don’t try to sneak past. They will be assholes about it. Do a news search and you’ll see HOAs trying to kick out overweight senior pets for being over the weight limit.
  • I can’t afford vet care and parasite prevention. Heartworm treatment is expensive, long, dangerous, and painful. Please, please, please don’t get a dog if you can’t afford heartworm preventative every month. The cheapest brand runs about $5 per dose and needs to be administered monthly. Effective flea preventative and tick preventative will vary based on your area, but expect to spend at least $5-$10 per month. In my area, the fleas seem to be immune to Frontline, but in other areas, it works perfectly. Ask other local pet owners what they use. Smaller dogs are less expensive to treat than larger ones for almost all types of vet care, but they also live much longer, so the expensive senior years might be a looong time. Pet insurance can help cushion bigger vet bills, but you’ll still be responsible for the monthly premium and the annual care.
  • I would have trouble with the time commitment a dog requires. You can throw money at this, or you can throw time, but you’ve got to do one or both. I know plenty of people who work 70+ hours a week and have dogs, but their dogs go to daycare or they have dog walkers, or some other arrangement has been made. Look up doggy daycares or dog walkers in your area and see what their rates are like. Doggy Daycare tends to run about $20+/day around here for basic services, and boarding is usually double that. Add in grooming, private training, or other specialty services and things can get really expensive. Having someone come to your home to walk or let your dog out is usually less expensive, but your dog is also getting less attention. Most dogs are okay by themselves for a normal 8 hour work day, but some aren’t. Think about your schedule and adopt accordingly.
  • I’m not willing to work though some behavioral issues. Behavioral issues are the number one reasons dogs don’t stay in their original home. Even your “perfect” dog, will have some less-than-perfect qualities. Most of the time those issues can be worked on, but it will take work and time and effort and skill and research. If you can’t give that to a dog, then you aren’t ready for one.
  • I’m not willing to deal with some property damage, inappropriate noise, vomit on the carpet, etc. Again, even the “perfect” dog is going to damage something at some time. I know someone whose 7-year-old “perfect” lab mix got a severe upset stomach while he was at work. When he came home at lunch after being gone for just a few hours, she had pulled up a bunch of the carpet trying to eat it like grass and then vomited all over his mattress. She was sick, so she freaked out and started misbehaving trying to make herself better. He didn’t get mad, he rushed her to the vet, where she had surgery. Then he came home and cleaned up, paid the damages, and loved his dog, because that’s what it takes to be a good pet parent. Know yourself, know how much you love your stuff, and if it’s more than you can love a dog, pick a caged pet that can’t damage your things.
  • The type of dog I want is otherwise inappropriate for my lifestyle or skill level. If you’re a couch potato but you can’t live without the “look” of a husky, you don’t need a dog. I promise that adopting a dog that isn’t right for you because you love a few superficial features is a horrible idea. Everyone will be miserable. You, your neighbors, your dog, everyone.
  • We’re roommates and we’re adopting a dog “for the house.” If no one is willing to commit to the dog right now, no one is going to be willing to commit to the dog in a year when your lease is up and you’re all moving. If you have roommates, a dog should be a group decision, but someone needs to be responsible for expenses, exercise, and, most importantly, keeping the dog when the house breaks up. Every rescue I’ve ever worked with has gotten calls from landlords asking us to pick up pets that were left behind when their owners moved out. An incredible number of times, these were adopted “for the house,” and I guess their owners just assumed they would be staying with the house? This is not okay. Pets are responsibility and that responsibility starts the second they come home.

By Laura-C

Hopes to someday train her dogs not to be douchebags.

22 replies on “I’m Not Ready For A Dog If…”

One of the main reasons we bought a house was so we could have dogs. House V.2 is able to be more in-city only because it’s really close to some really nice dog-walking areas.

One thing I think you left off the list is that you can’t be all “super-spontaneous-let’s-go-to-Aspen-for-the-weekend-leaving-tomorrow.” If being able to randomly not go home for 24 hours is important to you, then maybe a cat would be better. The need to arrange dog care adds another layer of planning, and holiday care needs to be booked crazy early. When we doggy-camped, we booked in September. Now that we’ve switched to in-home care, we’re bumping that up to August since our last sitter let someone else book her! (cue Stephanie Tanner “How Rude!”)

That is upsetting! But not all day cares are like this! Ours evaluates dogs and then allows supervised off leash play with appropriate playmates several times a day in big, outdoor fenced in areas or smaller indoor areas for rainy days. You have to go , see the facility, and ask a lot of questions. See who it’s run by too! The one I take my dog to is run by two women who also have a rescue group that does a lot of behavioral re-homing, so I knew they could handle her issues. As always, do your homework!

Everyone I know who does daycare or regular boarding uses places where dogs play, get walked (or maybe swim), do basic training, snack time, and otherwise have a blast. My boss works 12+ hours a day, and he’s always talking about how his dog loves daycare more than him, even though he regularly takes him on bike rides, to the beach, etc.
I don’t count the solitary confinement kennels as daycare, even if people use them that way. If it’s not enriching your dog, you’d do better to have a dog walker.

I have mixed feelings about doggy daycares, mostly because it seems that the humans involved don’t think about doggy daycare as much as they would child daycare. A friend of mine has a sweet, very energetic young dog who she takes to a doggy daycare when she’s at work so he has friends to play with and an outlet for his energy, but he’s a very social dog (he loves dog park days, too) and she researched the doggy daycares in her town to find the best one, not just the cheapest one — the dogs hang out together more than they sit by themselves in a kennel.
BUT, not every pet person is Barb. It is kind of like child daycare — you have everything from Montessori preschools to companies (and individuals) who think that a Disney video and a coloring book is enough for a kid. Dogs can get a rooftop play area with cushioned astroturf and pools or crates with a potty break. (I don’t imagine there’s a huge difference in pay for the dog handlers, either.)

Like I said, I’m conflicted. I think that’s why a cat is a good first pet for me.

The fact that (most) dogs have to go outside to poop even if it’s fucking freezing or if there’s a hurricane or if you feel like utter shit is pretty much a dealbreaker for me. I don’t mind hanging with my mother-in-law’s dog and I even crocheted her some little booties when it was too cold for her to walk last week, but nope. (The allergies don’t help either.)

The reason I decided not to adopt a dog last year was because I simply didn’t have the money to pay for pet insurance and other veterinary care. I grew up poor, and we always had pets, but every time we needed to take them for the vet for something, it absolutely threw everything into chaos because when you’re poor any unexpected expense becomes an emergency. We weren’t going to let them go without care, but as an adult I refuse to be in a position again where I need to choose between my pet’s health and my own.

I got over my vomit aversion fast. Daisy threw up twice a week for the first month while she adjusted. And every time she got into the trash…..I would wake up to an unwanted gift in the living room. I look up stain removal in my spare time. If you can’t deal, this life is not for you.

My pup used to get carsick, and one time I forgot to bring a towel, so when she started heaving, I instinctively held my hand out to catch the puke, and she vomited a used condom she had dug out of the trash into my palm. One of the most traumatizing experiences of both our lives. Thankfully, she has never gotten into the trash again.

Mine doesn’t swallow non food items (thank God), but I have come home to find used tampon applicators everywhere. And her happily sleeping in the middle of them. Carsick is the worst. We used to have a dog who would have to take drugs before he could ride in the car, or puke would be inevitable.

THANK YOU!!!! When I was in college, my 7 month old kitten got out and got hit by a car, breaking his back leg at the hip and the knee. I took out a personal loan for $3k to rebuild that little bastard because that is the type of commitment you make when you get a pet. You might get lucky and only have to pay for the bare minimum, but you also might end up spending thousands of dollars to fix an issue.

Also, little dogs may be cheap on the food front, but many, many breeds have BAD teeth that you either need to spend a bunch of money on annual dental cleanings/exams OR a bunch of money on extractions, OR if you are really lucky, like us, both.

I see way too many people take this decision lightly, and it is so unfair to everyone involved. So unfair. THank you for busting out some hard truths.

Fortunately, my major limitations are financial and space-related; those will change. It might take a while, but they’ll change. And, sure, I like certain breeds (German shepherds, corgis) but I know that, especially at the SPCA, the dog I think I want isn’t necessarily the dog who will be my BFF. And the SPCA here does “personality” matching, which will be great (they observe the dog with people, other dogs, and by themselves). Though I will probably start with a cat.

I’m not ready for a dog if… I just moved in with my girlfriend/boyfriend and adding a dog would make it feel like a real family yay!

Saw this frequently while volunteering at the local shelter in this college town. Couple moves in together. Couple gets a puppy right away. Couple breaks up. Neither party is willing to take the dog so it goes to the shelter. Sad.

It’s an animal, not an accessory.

Honest to God, Ivy, we’d ask people like, “So I see you are engaged. Have you set a date yet? How long have you been engaged?” We joked that we were unwillingly enforcing conservative values because dammit, we weren’t going to give a dog to people who were just hooking up for a year or so.

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