Karen Fratti
Updated July 26, 2017
Kristina Kokhanova/Shutterstock

Dogs are the absolute best. They like to sleep and watch TV with you, they’re great conversation starters when you’re out on a walk together, and they are just generally great roommates. Who doesn’t want a dog? But they are a lot of responsibility, so before you run down to the shelter to go adopt, there are some things to think about before getting a dog. Even though they aren’t actual humans will grow up and be useful in society, they can be just as time consuming and expensive as a small child, especially early on.

But getting a dog is a good idea when it’s a good idea.

They’re basically just a furry BFF who will literally love you forever and ever. Mainly because they don’t know any better, but science does show that dogs and their owners are pretty in tune with each other. Like, when you’re sad, your dog knows and wants to cheer you up. And when you’re in a good mood, they know they’re going to the park or getting some of your leftovers.

Dogs are hilarious and if you can take care of one and fit it into your life responsibly, you totally should. But the key word is RESPONSIBLY. Here are some things to think about before getting a puppy.

1Are you going to get a puppy or a dog?

Both are great! Puppies are soft and adorable, but adopting a grown-up dog can bring you some joy, too. It matters though. Both are going to be high maintenance. A new puppy will have to be trained, about where to go to the bathroom, how not to chew your shoes, or jump up on your friends. Basically a puppy is brand new to the world and you’re introducing them to it. An adult dog will have to be retrained, too. Depending on its past life, it might have weird anxieties or habits you’ll have to work with. If it’s stressed about a new owner, if might even have to be retrained about where and when to go to the bathroom. Either way, it’s an adjustment period.

2Can you afford medical expenses?

There’s an upfront cost to adopting or buying a dog and getting all of their initial shots done and all of that. But dogs can be expensive even beyond that. They get sick, too. They need to get flea and tick treatments every year. If you get an older dog, eventually it’s going to get really sick and you’re going to have to handle all that, too. If you don’t have a little emergency fund set aside for the dog or can afford pet insurance (yes, really!), you might want to wait a bit before you get a dog.

3Who’s going to walk the dog?

Dogs need space! They have to go out to poop a few times a day. They also like to run around and play. You’re going to have to dedicate yourself to making the sure the dog gets out of the house. In a city, that means adding some time to your morning routine to walk the dog before you head to work and coming home at a reasonable time to let them back out, and making time throughout the week to take them to a park or something to run around and be cute. If you have a backyard space, this gets easier, since you can just let the dog out while you contour in the morning or something. But you have to think about it, because cooped up dogs get weird really fast.

4What are your travel plans?

Do you travel a lot? Even for just a week or two out of the year? What the heck are you going to do with your new dog? Hopefully, you’ll have a friend or family member who will dog sit for you. But dogs aren’t like cats — they need someone to check in with them and really hang out for a bit. Otherwise, you can board a dog if you go away for the weekend. There are actually lots of places that do this, even big pet supply retailers, or a local doggy daycare, but it’s going to cost you. You can’t just fly away whenever you get the travel bug anymore.

5Who’s going to train the dog?

Like we said, both a puppy and an adult dog are going to need to be trained to fit into your life. Who’s going to do that? If you’ve never had a dog before, you likely have no idea what you’re doing. That’s OK — remember, people have human children and figure out what to do with them. You can train a dog by reading up on it or even paying someone to help you. Maybe you have a significant other or a roommate who can be the “bad cop” and teach the dog that your laptop cord is not a chew toy. You’ll find a way to train the dog, most likely. But again, it’s going to take some time and maybe some money.

6Can you handle gross things?

During the initial period of getting a dog, you’re going to probably have to scrub pee out of a carpet. You’re always going to have to pick up poop. Dogs get things slobbery and shed. Dog vomit is literally so gross, we can’t talk about it. If you can’t deal, you might need to rethink your pet choice.

7What is your living situation like?

You might want to check with your landlord about whether you’re even allowed to have a dog in the first place. That’s great if you can — but how long until you have move again? A lot of times, if you’re renting, finding a dog-friendly apartment building can be hard. And if you already live in a city where real estate is cutthroat, having a dog will put you at a major disadvantage. There are work-arounds and it’s not impossible, but it’s something to consider.

8Do you even like dogs?

Have you had a dog before? Why are you getting a dog? Are you bored, sad, or looking for a companion? Maybe you should just get a Tinder profile, or start going to a shelter and volunteering your time to walk the dogs, which will also help you decide if you’re ready for the commitment. There are a lot of ways to get satisfy your doggie craving without going all-in with ownership.