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Adding a puppy to the family is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Raising a puppy takes time, money, patience, and commitment. Are you ready to dedicate ten or more years to this animal? If not, you should consider another pet such as a hamster that has a life expectancy of two to three years.

Take a look at your lifestyle? Do you work 12 hour shifts? Do you go to work early in the morning and then go straight to the gym? Unless you plan to hire a dog walker to let your pup out several times a day, a puppy probably isn’t a good pet for you. Puppies eat up a lot of your extra free time. They need to be let out often, bathed, cleaned up afterward, and socialized. For every month the pup is old, that’s how long you should be able to “hold” it. For example, a four-month-old dog will need to relieve himself every four hours. If you’re not home when it’s time to go potty, you’ll have a mess to clean up and a dirty dog. All that cleaning and bathing takes time. And with the extra baths and cleaning comes at least one extra load of laundry per week. Also, if you want your dog to grow up mentally and emotionally healthy, you will need to play with him, expose him to different situations, objects, environments, and take him to obedience classes. Obedience training classes may only be one hour a week for 6 to 10 weeks, but your dog’s socialization should never stop. Are you sure you have time for all this?

Do you know how much money you will have to spend on your puppy in its first year? Puppies should be seen by a veterinarian for vaccinations at six to eight weeks, ten to twelve weeks, and thirteen to sixteen weeks. The puppy will also need to be spayed or neutered, and will need heartworm and flea medication. New puppy essentials include a wire dog crate, food and water bowls, chew toys and a sturdy leash. You will need several new necklaces because they will wear off pretty quickly. As mentioned above, a new puppy will soil his crate often during potty training, so bathing is necessary. So his grooming needs will consist of a puppy brush and shampoo at a minimum.

If your dog’s breed needs to be groomed, you should research how often you will need to have your hair trimmed. Keep in mind that trips to the groomer will cost you additional time and a significant amount of money over the life of the dog. If you want a well-behaved dog, you’ll need to take at least basic obedience training. Your county will also require your dog to purchase a new license each year. Your pup still needs to eat! The cost of food varies depending on the size of your dog and the quality of the dog food you buy. The basic cost involved in a puppy’s first year is around $1800. This does not include purchase of the puppy, dog walker fees, pet care or boarding if you are going on vacation, puppy pee pads if you choose to paper train your dog, books on parenting a dog or additional obedience training. Do you have an extra $1800 more laying around?

Patience. You may be wondering what patience has to do with raising a puppy. What is patience? Patience is putting up with your puppy crying in his crate night after night without giving in and/or getting angry. Patience is when you let your puppy go to the bathroom, he doesn’t do anything, then he comes in, relieves himself and you clean him up without complaining. You will need patience to learn to go to the bathroom if you are not diligent. And even if you are diligent, accidents will still happen. In fact, training your pup to do anything takes patience, including walking on a leash. If he is easily frustrated or these things sound unattractive, then you might seriously consider adopting a senior dog who is already housebroken and knows basic commands.

Be honest with yourself and your family when considering raising a puppy. Do you think you will have enough time and energy to train and entertain a puppy? Take a look at your finances, do you have an extra $1800 to put towards this dog’s first year of life? Look within yourself and other members of your family, will they be able to keep calm with a crying, teething, untrained dog? If so, congratulations on making the decision to add a new member to your family. There is nothing more innocent than a cute and cuddly puppy. If not, congratulations on making a decision based on facts instead of giving in to your emotions. If you feel like you need to groom your pup, volunteering at your local shelter is a great way to curb that urge.

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