Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Image courtesy of @the_life_of_claude
The last 12 months has seen a huge rise in UK dog ownership with suggestions that the number of households with a dog has increased by 60% since 2019.
The demand for puppies in the UK is now so high that there is officially a national shortage, with breeders reporting up to 50 enquiries per day from hopeful puppy parents to be.
Dog charities are extremely concerned that this will result in an increase of abandoned dogs as people's lives start to return to normal and the dog no longer fits in with their routines.
Here at Four Legged Foodies we are about to welcome a new puppy into our lives but before we even approached a breeder we gave it serious consideration, even though we already have a dog! In fact, we gave it the same amount as we did 11 years ago before we welcomed Archie into our lives.
We look forward to sharing our new puppy journey with you but if you are considering getting a puppy yourself, we urge you to consider the following areas first. The same considerations can be applied to getting an older or rescue dog.
So, are you ready for a puppy?
Image courtesy of @thetedtimes
We believe this is the first thing every potential dog owner should consider. Dogs bring absolute joy to our lives but also quite a lot of stress and worry. If you've never had a dog before, let me run you through some of the things that can happen to cause you stress (these have all happened to me):
A greedy pup almost chokes to death by wolfing down food too quickly, an inquisitive pup runs out of the front door to chase a cat, runs into a road chasing a squirrel, disappears on a walk because he found an abandoned sausage roll, eats chocolate and is rushed to the vet....
See what I mean? and that's just Archie, not to mention the numerous health issues you will face, the worry every time you have to leave him home alone, the threat (both real and imagined) of being attacked by other dogs....the list goes on.
As an owner about to get a second dog, I have also had to consider that he has a lot to live up to in Archie - despite all the above incidents, he really is still the best dog ever! You may have recently lost a dog and are looking to get another and you need to prepare yourself that your new dog will be different, even if the same breed and you must try to not keep comparing them as this could affect your bond with the new pup.
If you think you can handle all this because the benefits really do outweigh the potential worries (would I be getting another four legged foodie if that wasn't true?) then you are ready emotionally to get a puppy.
Image courtesy of @barneycockapooadventures
I'm not going to sugar coat this, puppies are HARD WORK! Puppies sleep for around 18 hours per day, unfortunately those hours aren't always when you sleep!
Until your pup learns to control their bladder and bowels, you will be up at least once in the night with them or face a mess the following morning!
Crating your pup does not mean that they can go all night but I'll cover more of this in another blog!
For the other 6 hours of the day you will be on constant watch for your puppy needing the toilet until they are trained, which will be around 6 months but longer for some pups.
You will also be constantly running around trying to stop them causing mayhem in the house like chewing furniture, shoes etc.
Then when you finally get out walking with your pup, you will start on recall training but even the smartest of dogs don't get this right every time. Pups just want to explore and play with other pups so there will be times when you have to chase after your dog.
You may also need to think about any allergies you have or if you suffer from asthma as certain breeds will not be suitable for you.
Owning a dog will always have some physical element as they need exercising so you will need to think about your own capabilities over the next 15 years or so. Obviously, you can always pay a dog walker if your health circumstances change but the levels of exercise required is worth considering when you decide on a breed.
If you are up for all this and can't wait to get out there exercising with your dog, then you are ready physically to get a puppy.
Image courtesy of @little_lu_pug
This is the topic of the moment as the increase in dog ownership is mostly down to our changes in working circumstances. With many of us currently working from home, we find ourselves in the perfect position to welcome a dog into our lives. But will this be a permanent change? What happens when you go back to the office?
We had a gap between dogs of 7 years because we both worked long hours and we didn't want our dog to be left home alone all day. With our previous dogs, we had parents living nearby who took care of them all day but then we moved to London and not only had no family nearby but also lived in a flat with no outside space. We didn't get Archie until I changed my career and we moved to a garden flat.
We have been lucky to find 3 rental properties where we can have Archie but there is still some stigma attached to dogs and not every landlord will allow it as they worry about damage and mess so be sure to check with yours before you go ahead and get a pup.
Your home set up is another thing to consider. Is your house big enough for the breed you choose once they are full grown? Do you have a secure garden? Do you have stairs to access your property? Pups aren't good at stairs for their first few months so think about the size of dog you choose. A Golden Retriever can be up to 19 kilos by the time they are 4 months old! That's a lot to carry up and down stairs several times a day.
Maybe you will be lucky enough to be allowed to take your dog to work with you. If so, is your dog up for travelling on public transport? Will you be able to carry your dog up station escalators?
If you are committed to creating the right environment for your dog, you will have many years of absolute pleasure and there are always solutions if your circumstances change such as hiring a dog walker or using doggie daycare. Which brings us on to the next topic.
Image courtesy of @ladybalieythecavalier
After the initial cost of buying your pup, the average cost of taking care of him is £2,000 per year. So over an average lifetime of 13 years that's £26,000!! And if you're a super pampered pooch like Archie and his pals it will be considerably more.
There are some obvious costs such as food, insurance, vets fees and things like beds, collars, toys etc but there are also costs you may not have considered if this is your first dog.
As we looked at earlier, your situation could change and you may need to hire a dog walker which will be around £15 per day. Daycare is around £25 per day.
If your dog needs professional grooming that will set you back at least £200 per year.
What about when you go away? if you don't have family or friends to step in, you will have to pay for dog boarding or kennels, which will add at least £140 to the cost of a 7 day holiday.
If your dog has behavioural issues, you may need to hire a professional trainer. Puppy classes cost around £150 for a few week's course but one to one training can cost over £100 per session.
If you're crazy enough (like us) to get a second dog, then obviously that's all doubled!
Financial reasons are one of the most common given for owners having to rehome their dogs so it is best to have a good idea of what's in store.
If you think you are in a good position financially and, like us, you agree that a dog is worth every penny, then YOU ARE READY FOR A PUPPY.
Stay tuned as we guide you through our puppy journey together and hopefully provide useful information for fellow puppy owners.
Here is a sneak preview of our new pup Nacho who arrives home on April 6th.