So, you’re thinking about getting a dog for the family? Bringing home a puppy or adult dog is both exciting and challenging!

There are many things to think about before getting a dog.  Before you take on a furry canine friend, are you ready to give a doggie a good life for its entire lifetime?

Are you ready for getting a dog?

  1. Have you examined your motives for getting a dog?

Thinking of getting a dog?

Thinking of getting a dog?
Photo: Berkay Gumustekin/

Do you want to give love and companionship as well as receive it? It is important to understand why you want a dog.  What are your needs and expectations?  Is owning a dog the best way to meet your needs and expectations?

2. Do you have a spare $25,000 to look after a dog?

According to Australian Veterinary Association, the Family Pooch Index has revealed owners will spend on average more than $25,000 per animal over the average lifespan of a dog.

Here are the approximate costs to own a dog.  This is a guide only.  Source: RSPCA NSW.

Initial costs for the first year Purchase of dog, puppy vaccinations, micro-chipping, registration, de-sexing, accessories (car restraint, bedding, kennel, collar and lead, food and water bowls, toys and treats) and puppy school. Up to around $3,000 depending the purchase price of the puppy from a breeder or doggie from a shelter
Ongoing yearly costs Food, treats, grooming, boarding/minding, dog walking, training, insurance, transport and preventative veterinary care Around $1,000 each year
Unforeseen costs Major veterinary treatment for emergencies and degenerative diseases in aging doggies such as cancer, spinal decay. Up to around $10,000 depending on treatment

Important…If you do not take out pet insurance then you will need to ensure that you have enough funds set aside for veterinary care.

3. Do you have the time to care for a dog properly?  Do you travel frequently?

Daily care includes attention, grooming, feeding, training and exercising.  If your schedule prevents you from providing consistent care for your dog, perhaps you should forego dog ownership at this time in your life.

4. What do you know about dog behaviour?

Thinking about getting a dog?

Thinking about getting a dog? ‘Mr Darcy’. Photo: Nick Stone

Whether you are thinking of getting a puppy from a responsible breeder or adopt a doggie from a shelter, it is wise to learn about dog behaviour and how to interact with your new furry friend.  You don’t have to be an animal behaviour expert to have a dog but if you understand the difference between a happy, stressed or aggressive dog, you can prevent your pet from suffering from problems such as loneliness, frustration and anxiety.

Leaving a dog alone all day in the backyard without an activity or human interaction is a welfare concern. The neighbours won’t be too happy with the constant barking either!

5. Are you willing to be patient?

You will need to undertake all aspects of dog training including toilet training for a puppy using positive reinforcement methods.  If you are adopting a dog from a shelter, you may not need to do toilet training but you will need to train your doggie about your house rules.

6. Do you have secure indoor and outdoor access for a dog?

You must be able to keep a dog secure to prevent him from roaming.  Some dogs are great climbers and diggers, and you need to ensure your fences are adequate.  According to a paper presented by Dr Robert Holmes, (RSPCA Science Seminar 2013), dogs are experiencing negative emotional states when confined to the backyard. Indoor access is important to allow your dog to feel he is close to you by accessing your smells in the lounge, clothes and other items.

7. You have a mature doggie, do you introduce a puppy?

Who will benefit from introducing a puppy?  Since older dogs do not handle stress well, getting a new puppy when you have an older dog showing signs of ageing may not be the best idea. It is best to get a new puppy when the older dog is still mobile (can get away from the puppy), relatively pain-free, is not experiencing cognitive dysfunction, and has good hearing and vision. (Source:

If you decide to get a new puppy, supervise interactions between the pup and your older dog and conduct introductions SLOWLY!

8. Should you get two puppies at the same time? 

Good luck!

Dogs have to develop as individuals. Taking on two puppies at the same time can seriously inhibit the development of one puppy in particular, and it can impact both.  It is recommended to get one puppy, train and raise it well and get a second dog once the first doggie is between 18 months and two years.  (Source: Libby Young, Kennel Manager and trainer for Doggie Rescue).

9. What dog breed is right for me?

It’s particularly important NOT to choose a dog because it looks cute or macho, or because the breed is trendy, for example, Cavoodles and Pugs.  Do your homework and choose a dog breed that will suit your energy level and lifestyle. However, all dogs are individuals and their behaviour can still vary greatly within the breed. Find out Australia’s most popular dog breeds.

10. Do you have a support plan if your circumstances change?

In the event of the arrival of a baby, moving house or overseas, your illness, divorce or death, your pet will need consistent, loving care.  Will your doggie be able to depend on you now and in the future? Here are a few tips to ensure your dog is looked after for his entire lifetime if you no longer can.