Soooo, you’re finally ready to start one of the best, most rewarding relationships of your life.  One that will forever change your life and heart, in the most wonderful way possible.

You’re ready for a dog!

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Great!  Having a dog has been one of the best experiences of my life thus far, and I bet all other dog lovers will say the same.  It’s one of those things you can’t truly understand until your heart has been captured by a four legged, furry bundle of love that barks, plays fetch and greets you every day like it’s Christmas.

As wonderful as my life is with my dogs, I have to say there are some things I would encourage people to understand before jumping right into getting one.  This is a commitment that can last you 15-20 years so it is crucial to be aware of what’s to come!  Here are 6 points that I think are important to understand.

“I’m sorry, I need to go home now and let my dog out.”

There will be times when you will to need leave happy hour or a holiday party early to go home and let your dog out.  Some of us like having a reason to leave a social gathering after a few hours and in that case, no need to worry!  But if you think you will be gone all day or all night you will need to make arrangements for someone to check in on your pup.

A dog is not meant to be chained up outside for his whole life.

Not all dog lovers may agree that a dog should be allowed on your couch or in your bed, but I think the vast majority of us will agree on this:  no dog should be chained up outside his whole life.  A dog deserves the safety of a warm house and bed of its own.  When we love a dog we quickly learn their needs become our needs, and protecting them against conditions that can harm them is a must.

Food, Water, and Healthcare

Providing food, water, and healthcare are non-negotiable aspects of owning a dog.  And let’s be honest, annual check-ups, nail trimming, grooming, food, treats and toys (because, hey, they need toys!) all add up.  It can be expensive owning a dog, so please make sure you can financially provide for them before you decide to adopt one.  If you can, this is about the only thing that you will glady accept kisses, snuggles and happy homecomings as a “return on your investment.”

Exercise and Training

I’ve read many times that “time is love” and I can handsdown tell you, it’s true when it comes to training and exercising my dogs.  Some days I don’t want to do it.  I’d rather be doing this or that or anything but teaching my pit bull how to walk with me and playing fetch with my Ridgeback.  I do it, however, because they need it and because I love them.  Also because it makes life a lot easier knowing they are healthy and well-behaved.  Two things to truly consider before adopting a dog!

Love and Companionship

There’s no doubt having a dog takes up a lot of time and energy.  Between trips to the vet and trips to the park and trips to PetSmart to pick up carpet cleaner, it may seem like your life revolves around them.  But there’s truly no greater love than the love of a dog.  It’s the thumping of their tail when you walk into a room and the happy cries you hear when you walk through the door after a long day at work and the comfort you feel as they rest their head (or whole body) on you when the day is done.

There is a big price to pay to love a dog but I tell you, for anyone who has ever fallen in love with one… 15-20 years isn’t nearly long enough.  If you feel you are ready and able to adopt a dog, I hope you enjoy one of the best relationships you will ever have!

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