A dog can be a much-loved member of the family, helping to create some wonderful memories for you all while also giving a dog a much-needed home. They bring joy and happiness, as well as comfort and fun. But bringing a dog into the family requires some responsibility, and if you’ve ever seen Beethoven or Marley and Me, you’ll know that your family needs to be prepared before your life (and home) is turned upside down.

Do you think your family is ready for a dog? Give the following some food for thought first.

Do you have enough space?

Dogs come in many different sizes, and you should think carefully about the size of your home before you decide which breed to choose. If you’ve only got a small home, consider getting a dog suitable to small spaces to make sure they’ve got enough space to wander around and play.

Homes with a backyard are great for dogs. They get the chance to go out when they need to, and if you invest in a doggy door, you won’t have to worry about letting them out. If there’s nobody home during the day usually, then having plenty of space will stop them from getting bored and tearing your house to shreds.

Are you prepared for the expense?

As well as the cost of the initial cost of getting a dog, you should consider the other expenses that come with a dog before you make the commitment. Some pet ownership costs include food, bedding, toys, grooming appointments, and others. These will be ongoing costs, and they might change as your dog gets older or gets bigger.

One of the biggest costs to factor in for your dog is healthcare. Dogs need regular checks to keep fleas and other nasties at bay, while you’ll need to have insurance or savings in place to cover you in case your pet gets injured or sick. The cost of medication can also add up, but choosing an effective method like compounded pet medications can help your pet to take their medication which limits waste and helps them get better quicker. Make sure you’ve got a healthy fund in place to cover those additional costs.

Are you able to give plenty of time to the dog?

Dogs require a lot of care and attention. If left alone for too long, a dog can become lonely, or bored – which could mean bad news for your furniture! They also need plenty of exercise to keep them strong and healthy, so a walk or two at least a day is necessary. If you’re not going to be home during the day, you need to be prepared to get up in the mornings to walk them, and then be prepared for a post-work walk too. Some people get a dog walker in to help during the afternoons, which is a great idea if you’ve got a particularly active dog.

Dogs also love to play, which is great when you’ve got kids around. Help them take some responsibility for caring for the dog and make sure they spent plenty of time with them. A pet can help you stay healthy as well as improve your mood and mental health, so look after them and they can help look after you too.

Will your other pets welcome a dog?

This one is only relevant if you already have pets, but it’s worth considering how your existing pets will get on with a new pet in the house. Cats and dogs might not always get on, while you could be ok with other smaller pets like rabbits if they’re kept out of the way. Perhaps invite a friend’s dog over to test the water before you fully commit to bringing a dog home.

How are your children around pets?

Children of different ages will react to pets in different ways. Very young children might be less aware of how to handle a dog, inadvertently hurting them or irritating them. As children get older and learn more about responsibility, they can then help to look after the dog and get involved with walking, feeding, etc.

When it comes to choosing the right kind of dog for your family, you should consider dogs that are great around kids. While every dog is different, some breeds are known for having better temperaments than others, which is something worth considering carefully. It’s important that both your family and your dog are safe in your home, so making a rash decision about a dog is not recommended.

Are you willing to bring home a rescue?

There are many ways you can go about getting a dog, but one of the best things you can do is rescue one. Rescue dogs have often not had the best start in life, and giving them a warm and loving home can be a great way to bring a dog into the family. Rescue dogs might not have a pedigree or a specific look, but when you find a great match you could end up with a really great family pet. The ‘adopt don’t shop’ approach is becoming more and more widespread in response to the many dogs that need rehoming each year.  Dogs that have been crossed with others often make healthier, stronger dogs, so you could end up having far fewer expenses and problems if you bring home a rescue.

Bringing a dog into the family can be a wonderful thing, helping to bring you all closer while also having an extra member of the family to love. Dogs have a lot to offer, but they also need a lot of love and care. Getting a dog is a big commitment, and you need to ensure that all of the family are ready before you commit. Assess your circumstances and whether you feel like you could appropriately care for a dog before you bring them home.

Need further help making the decision? Try this quiz to see if your family is really ready for a dog.