Am I Ready to Care For My First Puppy?
If puppies could speak, they might tell you how they're so awfully cute, fun to be around and make your daily life more enriching. What the little canines wouldn't tell you is that they require a lot of care. From laying down a few hundred at the vet's office during their first year of life to scooping them up and rushing them outside for potty training, puppies need plenty of your attention and money.
Puppies, especially in their first year, can seem more like money suckers than cute little furballs. They need food, shots, checkups, leashes, collars, beds and those all-important obedience classes than can strip you of a few hundred dollars. When it's all said and done, Petside estimates you'll potentially fork up over $1,000 during the first year alone. After that, things settle down a bit, but you're still looking at the monthly cost of food, a yearly license fee, vet checkups, toys and so forth.
An accurate monthly or yearly cost is difficult to gauge because of the huge fluctuations in prices and the products you buy. A grain-free dog food with meat as its first ingredient, for example, costs more than food with lots of filler and less meat.
After you're done emptying your wallet for the little guy, it's all about the time commitments. Young puppies need to go out frequently, to the tune of every three hours or more for a 2-month old. You'll need to spend at least 30 minutes a day really tiring your pup out, such as playing fetch or going to the dog park and letting him have intense play sessions with other dogs. Socialization is extremely important for puppies, and a good 30- to 60-minute walk a day, while not very tiring, does help your puppy see new sights and sounds so he won't have an aversion to them later in life.
You need to invest time into daily obedience training, brushing and the occasional nail trimming and bath. And don't forget about just spending time with the youngster. Playing games, taking walks and going for car rides might seem like enough to you, but your puppy will often be looking for your attention when you're home and trying to relax.
The less freedom your puppy has, the more care he requires. Apartment complexes, for example, usually don't provide you with an open yard and almost certainly not an enclosed one, and the living space is typically smaller than that of a house. You'll need to exercise your pup more and be on top of behavioral issues that might annoy your neighbors. If you have children, you'll have to take time to socialize your puppy with the little ones and keep an eye on how they interact.
If you have other pets, such as a cat, you'll need to be on the lookout for displays of aggressive puppy tendencies and make an effort to keep him away from things like kitty litter and your other pet's food.
All young canines require a lot of care, but if you have a busy work schedule or don't have a lot of money to spend, there are a few ways you can save both time and cash. Smaller dogs typically require less financial care, from eating less food to having medications that are usually less costly. Free up a bit more money by learning how to groom your puppy yourself and teaching him basic obedience. If you have time constraints, consider a puppy that requires less exercise, such as a bulldog or pug rather than a German shepherd or Labrador retriever.
By Chris Miksen
About the Author
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.