Getting a dog can be a really exciting time in your life, however, there are a few things you need to consider before jumping in. These are just a few important things to know when thinking about getting a furry companion, or just trying to decide what kind of dog is the best fit for you and your lifestyle. Then feel free to get a pooch and take as many cute pics of them as possible, make them their own Insta account, and achieve internet fame.
One important factor is how much time you can actually devote to your dog. Dogs are incredibly needy, and you need to be able to put in the time to take care of them and be their companion. They may be just a part of your world, but to them, you are their whole world. They shouldn't really be left alone for more than six hours a day, so this is something to take into account if you have a time-consuming job or are away from the house for long periods of time regularly. Also, if you are someone who travels a lot then you need to consider the cost of kennels. It may take time for you to find the right kennels for your dog, as the first few may not fit right—for example, with my dog it took us years to find the right place where he was content and we felt he was actually being looked after. It was a little more costly than other places, but it was worth it to be safe in the knowledge that he was happy and being looked after.
Not Just for Christmas
Getting a dog is for life, not as a novelty—this is possibly the most essential thing on this list. It can be distressing for dogs to move from one household to another or to a shelter, and they will always need attention and care, no matter how old they are. So it is important to consider whether you will be able to maintain this level of commitment and if you are willing to work your lifestyle around your pet. You also need to think about whether you really want a dog, because if you don't, you most certainly will not be willing to put in the effort when things are difficult. However, it is always better for a dog to be re-homed if that is the best thing for yourself and the dog: for example, in instances of unforeseen circumstances where you find yourself unable to provide the right care and attention anymore.
Now this is an important one: A puppy will absolutely need housetraining, even if their breeder claims they already are. Moving to a new house with a new family away from its mother is a big change, so they'll need you to set boundaries, and teach them what's right and what's wrong. At first, they will pee in the house, they will rip up your belongings, they will get into your laundry and chew up your clothes. You need to put in the work to train them. This doesn't just apply to puppies; older dogs may also go through a phase of needing to be re-housetrained even if you've had them since they were a puppy. Sometimes they just need those boundaries enforced, and if you become lax about the rules, they will certainly take advantage of it!
Dogs also have a tendency to eat any food that may be lying around unattended. Some things are obviously poisonous to dogs such as grapes, mushrooms, and the obvious, chocolate. They react in different ways to these foods, so don't assume because your friend's dog can eat a bit of chocolate without any side effects, yours can too. In this case, it's always best to err on the side of caution and do your research before giving them human food.
The initial cost can be quite substantial, especially if you're going for a popular pure-breed such as a Pug or a Samoyed. There is the cost of the dog first, then things such as a dog bed, leads, collars, toys, food and water bowls, brushes, identity tag, flea and wormer, jabs, etc. Some dogs may also need to have special food which may cost a bit more. If you have a particularly destructive dog, there may be costs for repairs and replacements—I personally haven't had to deal with that much damage, although my dog rips up small things around the house such as wrappers and lottery tickets, whereas I know someone who's puppy caused £200 worth of damage in three days. Of course, if this is a recurring issue then your dog may have separation anxiety which is when they get so anxious about you leaving they rip things up, whine, bark, or even throw up in distress. This can be combated however—your vet will be able to give you advice and there is a ton of information on the internet.
Which dog is right for me?
This is a key question every potential dog-owner must ask themselves. Obviously if you have a small flat you're not going to get a Great Dane or a Husky; likewise if you're out at work in the day, you may want to consider an older dog rather than a puppy. There's plenty of advice online for you to make a well-informed decision—I would say the main things to think about when choosing which type of dog are: how much space you have, how much time you have, and whether you have other pets or children. Some dogs are more compatible with other dogs or animals while others do better as an only pet. For example, Greyhounds or retired Greyhounds can be aggressive to small mammals such as rabbits but get on really well with other dogs.
These were my tips for what to consider before getting a dog of your own. However, there is plenty more info online, at your local vets, and breeders, as well as other dog owners.