We ❤️ dogs.
And we really love seeing happy dogs and happy, educated dog owners. Getting a dog is a big decision that can involve a 10, 15 - or if you're very lucky, up to a 20 year time commitment. If you've never owned a dog before, it can be a big change to your current lifestyle.
To keep your dog happy, you'll have to consider him in all of your decisions.
You should aim to walk your dog for at least one hour everyday. Your dog must also be fed, groomed, played with, given water, and cleaned up after daily. Some dogs do not do well with owners who must work full-time, or who work extended hours. Dogs take a ton of work to stay happy and balanced. If you have a busy career, or you travel a lot, you should ask yourself how a dog fits into all of these things, realistically.
Although dogs can make great exercise companions, they also take training to learn how to walk on a leash, and pay attention to you.
Getting "the perfect dog" is almost always a matter of spending time with your dog to teach them how they should behave.
Most dogs, irrespective of whether or not they have short or long hair, shed. Some dogs, like German Shepherd's, Golden Retriever's, Rottweiler's, and Corgi's shed a great deal. Are you prepared to sweep, vaccuum, and/or mop your house everyday? Dog hair and dander can present allergy concerns to other members of the family if not kept under control, and even regular grooming doesn't stop the constant shedding of many dog breeds.
Be aware that your clothes, car, and furniture can be covered in dog fur. While all of this is cleanable with off-the-shelf products, it shouldn't come as a surprise if you do your research. Don't be in the unenviable position of getting a dog and having to give it up because you didn't anticipate the shedding, dander, and cleaning required.
You should feed your dog the highest quality food you can afford. If this includes raw dog food, understand that preparing your dogs food takes regular attention each night. High quality kibble and blended dog food may seem expensive, but it is well understood that nutrition is an important part of overall health. Investing in feeding your dog a healthy diet based on minimally processed, fresh food prevents many (more expensive) health conditions later on down the line.
If you're feeding kibble, be sure to invest in a high-quality brand with the right balance of vitamins and nutrients for your dog. Not all dog food is created equally, and what you put into your dog makes a great deal of difference when it comes to keeping him happy and healthy.
Going out on vacation? Don't forget to make plans for the dog. Last minute work trip, family visit, or weekend excursion? Every time you plan on leaving your house for more than 8 hours, you'll need to make plans to accomodate your dog. Dogs cannot be left alone by themselves for more than a day at a time. You'll want to have a veterinary boarding facility or home boarding arrangement ready before you get your dog. Make home visits and thoroughly vet whomever you leave your dog with to ensure your dog has care just like he would at home.
Even if your dog is totally healthy and never gets sick in his entire life (a best case scenario) you still have to take care of regular license fees ($30-$40), vaccinations ($20-$60), checkups ($10-$30), food, toys, treats, beds, shampoo, bowls, leashes, collars, and so on.
Minor visits to the veterinarian for spider bites or stitches can cost up to \$600, while surgeries and specialty care can cost thousands of dollars, and include travel to special hospitals and universities. You should be aware of these possible unexpected costs when bringing your new dog home, just in case.
All that being said, dogs really are mans best friend. Your dog will love you unconditionally, but if your dogs needs to explore, play, and socialize are met your dog will live a happier, more stress free life. As dog owners, we should do everything we can to keep our dogs happy and healthy! Given the opportunity, you can bet they would do the same for us.