12 Things To Consider Before You Get A Dog



I love my dog. Dogs have a way of instantly getting into your heart and Pepper stole mine from the instant I laid eyes on him. He was a pain to train. He hated the cage and ripped everything up trying to get out. But Havanese are smart and it wasn’t long before we had him paper-trained. Havanese are the national dog of Cuba and the AKC recognized them as a breed only a few years ago in 1996. A new dog just take tons of love and patience.

1. Dogs are an investment of time and money.
Unless you plan on going to a shelter and adopting a dog, buying a dog from a breeder or pet store is going to cost you depending on the breed. Havanese, a very popular breed and the type of dog I own typically run about $1,000 to $2,200 depending on where you live and who you buy your dog from. 

At the time, you purchase your dog you will also need a slush fund of money to pay for their immediate needs:

  • Dog dishes
  • Leash and a collar
  • Puppy food
  • A bed
  • A cage for training
  • Wee wee pads for potty training
  • Toys
  • Chew bones

This can add anywhere from $400 to $600 to your bill.


2. Dogs can need expensive vet care.
You will need to see the vet with your new puppy and on-going visits. New York City vets bills are not for the faint of heart. Your puppy will have basic shots but will need additional ones to protect him/her. The first year of your puppy’s life will probably cost you about $500.

And if your dog has any serious issues, the bill can be astronomical. Although many will offer financing, you’ll still be stuck with a financial burden. Pepper jumped off the stairs and tore his ACL. His leg was just dangling and useless. A trip to a 24-hour pet emergency room gave me a heart attack. Just to keep him overnight was $175. I refused, had them give him a painkiller, took him home in my arms and slept with him next to me all night. They did the surgery needed the next day and it ran me about $3,000 between the surgery, medicines and miscellaneous charges. Yikes!

You’ll find your vet’s individual charges for vaccines and other things seem normal but those $30 and $40 charges can add up very quickly. Check out pet stores because many of them offer very affordable vaccines if you can arrange your schedule to meet their timetables.

Before you buy a dog, visit your local vets armed with questions and ask how much they charge for various medicines and visits so you’ll have an idea what you are facing should you get a dog for where you live.

3. Dogs will need neutering unless you will be breeding them.
Neutering is surgery. This can be costly so shop around before doing this. Ask about after care. You might have to take the day off to be with them. Years ago, I took my dog to the Humane Society of NY for his neutering and saved so much instead of taking him to the vet. And the ASPCA offers low cost options.

4. Pet insurance will require research.
I had pet insurance when I first bought Pepper. But many of those early puppy needs aren’t covered so eventually I let my policy lapse. 

  1. Ask other dog owners if they have pet insurance when out walking your dog.
  2. Ask your vet for a recommendation. They will have the best advice.

You can check ratings of different pet insurance companies at this Consumer Advocate site.

5. Dogs need lots of training.
Dogs need obedience. This will take patience and time. And with a full time job I found this hard to do. You might want to consider hiring a dog trainer for yourself as much as the dog. I did because wee wee lad training was easy. But getting my dog to poop outside was a different story.

6. Dogs need grooming.
I did not factor this in during the consideration phase. Havanese don’t shed and are hypoallergenic but they need grooming. Grooming in New York City will run you $85 and up depending on the size of your breed and the care you take in between visits. I stretch the time between visits by bathing and brushing him. Even still he goes every two months adding about $700 with tips to the annual costs of owning a dog. 

7. Many dogs shed.
If you don’t mind pet hair or buying lint brushes in bulk then go ahead and buy the breed of your choice. But pet hair on my nice furniture or collecting in corners was not my idea of fun and I have enough to do without pet hair clean ups.


8. Dogs chew things. 
My brand new dining rug fell victim to the puppy chew phase and had a nice two-inch hole in it before I caught up with the little bugger. Don’t be naive and think you will raise a puppy without losing something valuable. It’s a right of passage when owning a dog. I’m fortunate enough that the rug was really the only thing Pepper ate.

Make sure you have plenty of toys and bones for your dog to chew on. Buying pet needs online can save you money. The online pet business is big business so do some competitive shopping. Many people cage train their dogs as puppies and the dog still loves sleeping in the cage long after they are potty trained.

9. Dogs bark.
We did not realize we had bought a breed that barks. He still barks at any noise he hears. If you live in an apartment building like me you might find yourself with an irate neighbor or two. 

10. Dogs don’t fly for free.
There are pet friendly hotels now and airlines will allow small dogs on planes. Each airline has its own set of rules so you’ll want to check with them. Typically they only allow a certain number of dogs on a plane so you will need to make a reservation. American Airlines charges $125 per flight and you need to meet their regulations for the size of kennel carrier. Bring Fido is a terrific site filled with information on traveling with a dog.

If you don’t take your dog on vacation with you, you will need to find a friend to let sit or board your dog.

11. Dogs need love and attention. 
Big dogs need lots of exercise. Small dogs need exercise, too, but it’s easier to accomplish. So make sure if you’re committing to a dog you have the time to give them the love and attention they deserve as a member of your family. I had a Yorkie when my kids were toddlers. Between the full time job and my mom duties, the dog was not getting attention and I ended up giving her to a loving, single older woman who fell for her while pet sitting.

12. City dogs need dog walkers if you work. 
Another expense is a dog walker. My dog can hold everything for 12 hours now. But he’s eight years old. And I don’t think it’s fair to leave him alone all day like that so I have a dog walker who takes him out for a 30-minute walk during the week when I’m working. At $18 a day this expense can also add up quickly. It’s worth every penny though as dogs get lonely like people. It gives Pepper a break and time out greeting people and seeing the outside world while he does his business.

If you can afford a dog go for it. Pepper has cost me a pretty penny, but the love he has given back to our family has been priceless.

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