The Cost of Owning a Dog

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The Cost of Owning a Dog

If you ever owned a dog when you were a child, you can probably recall the joy and exhilaration you felt every day, playing with your best buddy. Once you grew up and (assuming you) started a family, you probably wanted your kid(s) to experience the same things that you did. A loving, loyal, fun-loving animal companion is one of the best things in the world. The problem comes along later – as a child, you never have any idea about the cost, time and effort that goes into adopting and raising a dog. Your parents took care of that mostly, perhaps teaching you how to train him or her. The way it really works, owning a dog can cost you quite a bit, more than you probably ever imagined as a kid. Lots of money and time go into keeping a dog and anyone who wants to do so needs to make sure they have a good grasp of all the ins and outs.


Shelters are a one great place from which to get dogs. Prices are reasonable, but if you want a pure breed dog, you should only seek out a reputable breeder. You see, pure breeds are valued such that if they 'do' end up in a shelter, it is because they likely have developmental or behavioral issues that their previous owners were unwilling or unable to cope with. Those issues are not the dog's fault, but they can mean putting you through more stress than you would otherwise experience.

If you want a dog that has gotten all its shots, been socialized properly, and is free of genetic disorders and degenerative conditions, you might end up paying upwards of $1000. But you get what you pay for. The rest is up to you. Of course, you 'can' get a pure breed for less money, but again, you get what you pay for. It may not have all its shots or vaccinations, it may be poorly socialized or not at all – in short, corners are cut. Dealers who are willing to sell at that rate for that sort of dog aren't the kind you want though. Saving a few bucks now means spending more later when your dog gets sick or suffers from expensive conditions later in life.

A Dog at Home

If you want a professional's help to socialize and train your dog, puppy school is a great way to start. Whether you do it, or hire a professional, a solid base for training paired with positive reinforcement is key for all dogs. This helps ensure that they'll be comfortable around people, other animals and in varied situations. At home, you also need to make sure you have a clean, comfortable and safe place to sleep that is uniquely theirs. This allows you to reinforce that you are dominant over them, though you should never use their 'safe place' (say, a dog house) as a time out place. They'll quickly associate their 'safe place' with a 'bad place' and trouble can crop up quick. If they spend a lot of time outside, you might consider building your own doghouse. You can often do it for cheaper than purchasing a kit or pre-assembled shelter. Exercise is also crucial for emotional and physical well being. They need a way to work off excess energy. Without it, your dog could develop emotional issues and might act out (for instance, tearing up the couch). Also, spending time with them enriches their life and strengthens the bond that the two of you share. Of course, not everyone can devote quite so many hours to their dog as might be wanted. So, a professional dog walker might come in handy. That leads to another question, “What do you do if you have to go out of town?” There are kennels and boarding places for dogs, often with inclusive fees so you don't need to worry about a thing. If you want to take your dog with you though, that might mean more hassle. Airline and train/bus regulations regarding pets vs service dogs are strict, and while you might be able to crate them, this creates stress for the dog. Lastly, what about food? Beyond making the right choices for your dog (since most commercial dog food is not all that great or healthy), feeding your dog for a year (especially if he is a larger breed) can quickly add up.

Going to the Vet

Even the healthiest of dogs is bound to tack on medical expenses from time to time. They do not live as long as we do, and some breeds are more susceptible to health problems than others (even pure breeds who have been maintained to weed out genetic ailments). Some things you will want to keep in mind are vaccinations, de-worming, regular checkups, and arguably most important, spaying or neutering costs. You are not a breeder, and even if you were to bring a litter into the world with the best of intentions, you have no control over what happens to the offspring once they are sold to fellow dog lovers.

And many people don't even factor accidents and incidental things. Aside from visits to the vet, there are things you can do at home to keep your pet healthy and happy. Ticks, fleas, heartworm, mange, bad breath and teeth, and dietary concerns are all issues you can tend to at home, with relatively inexpensive treatments that you don't need a medical degree to administer. One thing that you have to remember, that is key, is, it may be expensive now, but in the long term, you'll be saving yourself lots of time, money and heartache by ensuring your dog's well being. Your pocketbook and of course your dog will thank you for your foresight.

How Much is Too Much?

Of course, as with anything, you need to balance it all out. You love your dog, and maybe even consider it as much an inseparable part of your family as your children. But if you overspend on your dog, it can leave your finances wanting in other areas. When you add everything up, from the cost of the dog him or herself, plus the money that a conscientious dog owner should conservatively expect to pay, you can bank on spending $2000 that first year, along with $500 to $1000 every year after that. And that's just to keep your furry friend healthy, happy and well trained. It may seem like a lot, but it really isn't, in the grand scheme of things. Some owners may spend less, others may spend more, but your furry pal is worth it, right? There is no question that bringing a dog into the home can be a true joy. Watch the years melt away as your loving and protective friend leaves an indelible mark in the life of you and your family.  There is an old saying that goes, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. But in this instance, the truth is you can’t afford not to ask. 


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