I haven’t talked about my dog for a while, so today I thought I would go through my experience as a dog owner and how much it costs to own a dog. Prior to owning a dog I had never really thought about how much it was going to cost, and even now that we have one, all I can say with certainty is that every dog is different and each and every dog will likely come with its own set of problems. How big or small those problems are is really a bit of a lucky dip unfortunately.
What Breed of Dog?
The first thing you will need to decide on when choosing a dog is the type of breed that is going to best suit your family and your location. As an example – you don’t really want to buy a super active border collie if you live in a unit or on a small block of land. The poor dog will get terribly bored and probably become quite a challenge to look after.
Some dogs require a lot more stimulation and activity than other dogs. If you decide that you want one of those types of dogs then you will need to be prepared to take it for regular walks and to play with it in the backyard on a daily basis. If you neglect to do this then the dog will likely become destructive and annoy your neighbours to no end with it’s barking.
Breed Specific Problems
Researching breed specific problems is a must prior to buying a dog. Many breeds are more susceptible to certain types of problems than others. You can take a look into the types of problems and the costs associated with them prior to selecting a breed. This might not sound like a big deal, but the costs of some of the corrective surgery procedures will certainly make you wish you looked into it a little more thoroughly.
Working out how much your dog is going to eat is fairly simple. The bigger the dog, the more it will eat. Inversely, the smaller the dog, the less it will eat. Be aware that dog food isn’t all that expensive, but if you get a dog like ours, which has a sensitive stomach then be prepared for you food costs to sky rocket.
Housing and Toys
Mostly housing, bedding and toys will be one off purchases, but if you get a dog that has a strong bite like ours, then you need to be prepared to buy new toys on a semi regular basis as they just won’t last all that long.
Dogs and Kids
Some dogs are much better with children than other dogs. If you have kids or are planning on having kids, be sure to think about this as it really is an important decision.
All dogs require some form of training. Be ready to pay a nominal fee (normally about $10) at least once per week for the first 6 months of your dogs life to ensure it is well socialised with other dogs and people. No matter if the dog is big or small, it really is worth it to make sure you don’t end up with an aggressive dog.
Holidays and Kennels
Owning a dog can severely limit your ability to travel or go on holidays. You need to be prepared to either get a friend to dog sit, pay for a kennel to keep your dog, or my favourite – find pet friendly accommodation where you can take your dog on holidays with you. We did this last year for the first time and it was a lot of fun for both Ricky and us. It did cost a little more and our accommodation choices were severely limited, but it really was worth it.
I alluded to time previously, but it is so important that it deserves its own heading. You really need to make sure you are ready to spend the required amount of time with your pooch. They do get lonely and they just want to spend time with you. So before buying a dog make sure you are in it for the long haul – remember, most dogs live for around 10-15 years and if you don’t think you want to own a dog for that length of time then you probably shouldn’t.
Where to Buy the Dog
Determining where to buy a dog is something that I am fairly passionate about. Most people will just go down to the local pet store and pick up a dog there. I’m here to tell you not to do that for 2 reasons.
- Those pet shops will charge you hundreds and even thousands of dollars for a dog. It is WAY more expensive than it needs to be.
- There are literally thousands of dogs waiting for you in the local pound. They will love you just as much as the ones in the pet shop, and in some cases you will be saving the dogs life as many pounds euthanize dogs when they can’t find new homes for them.
My Dog Ownership Experience
We bought Ricky (a Staffordshire Bull Terrier) from the local pound as a puppy. He cost us $400 (pet shops are about $800-$900). Originally we didn’t look into many of the things I am mentioning here, and so take this as a warning if you choose not to listen to my advice above. Ricky is almost 4 years old and to date he has had surgery on his two front elbows (costing us $5,000 in total) and he has ongoing injections every 2 months to help with the stiffness in his joints. The injections are only about $20 so it isn’t that bad, but he will continue to get them for the rest of his life.
Ricky also has a sensitive stomach, which means that we buy him a special type of food which is about double the cost of normal dog food. Asides from this, Ricky doesn’t really have all that many other problems and he really is a great dog. My wife and I both love him dearly and he has become very protective of our new son, almost like a big brother.
If you were to ask me if I was given the chance to go back in time and do it again (knowing what I know now) – would I do it? The answer would be a resounding yes. I love Ricky no matter how much he has cost us.