Owning a Dog is a Full-Time Commitment

If you’re interested in owning a dog, you’re in good company. There are approximately 63 million dogs in the United States alone. About 45 million U.S. households have dogs. You can get a dog in almost any shape, size, or color imaginable

Dogs are pretty unique critters. They offer their owners companionship, love, and humor, but in return, dogs require time and can be inconvenient.

In most cases, dogs are dependent on their owners for attention (no, they don’t amuse themselves—or if they do, it’s usually with something you don’t want them to amuse themselves with), and they require training, exercise, and attention every day.

Owning a dog involves a commitment in a relationship

training husky dog

Dogs are pack animals, meaning that they require companionship from their pack. That means you. So owning a dog involves a commitment in a relationship. Owning a dog is a ten- to a fifteen-year commitment to that relationship.

That means you have to be there to let her out to relieve herself at least every four hours as a puppy and every nine hours as an adult.

You have to feed her two (or three, if a puppy) times a day. You have to provide fresh water. And you have to train and exercise her.

If you get a dog or puppy, she’s going to be dependent on you for attention. A lot of attention. Depending on the type of dog you have, you may have a dog who clings to you like Velcro. (In fact, Shadow is a very popular name for dogs.)

One person described certain breeds by saying, “You’ll never go to the bathroom alone again.” That sums up many dog breeds.

How much Attention do Dogs Need?

tips on boarding your dog

If you don’t want a dog hounding you at every step (pun intended), don’t get a dog. Granted, there are independent-minded critters out there, such as some of the hounds and dogs that come from the northern breeds, including Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Samoyeds.

So, with a dog, you have an animal who clings to you and who is looking for your guidance and interaction. But dogs also get into a tremendous amount of trouble when they’re not looking for your attention. The roast on the counter is enticing; so is the garbage you put in the pail just under the counter.

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

The chair legs are yummy. You have to spend time watching to make sure your new dog or puppy isn’t getting into things she shouldn’t. This takes away from the time you have for other things.

You’re going to have to consider your dog instead of going out to dinner with your coworkers right after work or otherwise spending a long day away from home.

Your dog will need to be let out, played with, exercised, and fed. And at least for a while after you bring her home, you’re going to need to spend time watching your dog to make sure she doesn’t get into trouble.

How long do you need to spend training and exercising your dog?

training treats dog training

Well, that depends on the dog, how old she is, what breed she is, and other factors. If you live in an apartment, you can expect that you’re going to have to take your dog outside a minimum of four to five times a day to eliminate (and take her on one long walk of twenty minutes or more).

If you have a fenced-in backyard, you’ll have to let your dog out several times each day, and you’re going to have to take her for at least one long walk every day or at least two or three times a week, depending on the breed.

Think about your current lifestyle.

puppy training tip

Taking off for a spontaneous weekend at the beach is out of the question if you can’t bring your dog with you or you don’t have a pet sitter or boarding kennel lined up.

You must come home every day to care for your dog. You must walk her daily (or at least several times a week). Training is a must—dogs (especially puppies) don’t come housetrained, and basic commands don’t come easily to all dogs.

Training takes time.

training a dog

You’ll need to start training classes, whether your dog is a puppy or an adult. If you’re getting a puppy, consider taking five or six hour-long puppy kindergarten classes and then hour-long weekly obedience classes for eight to twelve weeks.

An adult dog will only need the obedience course. During the obedience course and afterward, you need to work at home on training your dog. These sessions need to last ten to twenty minutes a day to keep her training fresh.

If you get a puppy (or an adult dog who isn’t housetrained), you can count on spending some time housetraining her. If your dog is a puppy, it may take some time to housebreak her— from two or three months all the way up to one year. Some puppies catch on fast; others do not.

Housetraining an older dog is easier, as most older dogs usually have some experience with housetraining already. If you stick with a schedule and crate your dog when you can’t watch her, a few times of teaching her to eliminate outside is usually all that’s needed.

Grooming takes time

grooming puppy

Most dogs require some sort of grooming, whether it’s combing and brushing or clipping, once a week. If you’re doing it yourself, plan on taking an hour or so each week for grooming. If you’re not planning on doing it yourself, consider the cost of having a groomer do it for you.

If you have small children and are planning on getting a dog, think of the dog as adding one more small child to the mix. Only this child doesn’t understand English and certainly doesn’t wear diapers. Most new parents have their hands full with a child. A new puppy or dog usually is too much on top of all that.

Dogs will do the darnedest things to waylay your best plans. Plan on going to a big interview for a new job and your dog will have chewed your $300 shoes.

Need to get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s big presentation? Your dog will be up all night, puking up something that she ate the day before.

What about that special holiday dinner?

funny puppy

If you’re not careful, your dog will snatch the roast off the counter (and, again, you can expect that she’s going to be up all night puking).

To fix all this takes time. Whether you’re washing off the roast after grabbing it from your dog, going shopping for another pair of shoes, or taking the time to prevent these problems from happening in the first place, you’re looking at a fair amount of time.

Early on as a dog owner, I came home from a trip to find that my dog sitter had let my dogs run loose, and they had trashed the entire house. It took nearly a whole day to clean up.

Dog owners have to have a sense of humor when it comes to dog ownership and time constraints. If you’re the type of person who can never find enough time in a day, don’t own a dog.

If you travel a lot, don’t own a dog. If you’re never home except to go to sleep, don’t own a dog. And if you don’t have a sense of humor, consider a very serious breed that is easily trained.

How much time will owning a dog take?

Friendly dog

Again, that depends on the age, breed, and activity level of the dog. Between care, attention, exercise, playtime, and snuggling on the sofa, for puppies and young dogs, you can expect to spend about four to six hours each day; for older dogs, expect to spend three to four hours each day.

Arguably, you can spend less, but then why bother owning a dog? Of course, this time can be split up between different family members, but someone must oversee the care to make sure that the dog is being properly cared for.

If you had decided to own a dog The following article will show a list of potential costs you might face the first year: Cost of Owning a Dog: Financial Commitments