Deciding to get a puppy is a big decision and not one to be rushed into. Never buy a puppy on impulse and always do plenty of research about the type of dog that will suit you, your family and your home. It is a good idea to talk to dog owners about their breed of dog, borrow books from the library and read information on the Internet about the different breeds of dog that might interest you. Remember that a puppy will grow into an adult dog with a temperament, personality and needs all of its own. You will need to think about who is going to walk the dog, are your house and garden big enough for the breed you have in mind, who will care for the dog when you go on holiday, who can walk it if you are ill or unavoidably detained away from home. These are very important questions to think about before getting a puppy – a dog is a big responsibility for many years and you must take this seriously. Also consider the cost of caring for a dog. Food, beds, training classes, puppy crates, chews, toys and other equipment cost a considerable amount of money and vaccinations and vet’s bills are expensive, even if your dog remains in good health. Do you have the means to pay for treatment for illnesses and injuries? Sometimes dogs, like people, will have illnesses that require expensive medicine, sometimes this will be required every day for the rest of their lives. Are you willing and able to take on this responsibility? Getting a puppy should be fun, but it must also be very carefully considered to ensure that you and your dog are prepared for the future.

So, having considered all of the above, you must look at your lifestyle and see what dog suits you and your family. Do you have the time and enjoy long walks every day? If not, don’t consider an energetic breed such as a Dalmatian, Border Collie or a Doberman. Every dog needs walking but certain breeds go cranky without a very large amount of exercise. Are you looking for a dog to go running with you? Then don’t choose a small breed that cannot tolerate too much exercise. Do you have children? Are you planning or likely to have children in the future? Remember, dogs live for many years and you need to plan for their happiness and security in the future. It’s not fair to get a dog then give him away if your circumstances change. So, if children are a part of your life, or likely to be in the next ten or more years, you must get a breed that is known to get along with children easily, such as a Labrador. But bear in mind that dogs and children still need supervising while playing together to ensure safety.

Another consideration is that of allergies. Many people have allergies these days and many more develop them each day. There is not such thing as a hypo-allergenic breed of dogs, no matter what you may read. Make sure that you and your family are not susceptible to dog allergy by spending time with a friend’s dog. Perhaps you could have a dog to stay with you for a week or so, during a friend’s holiday, and monitor how everyone reacts. If sneezing, wheezing and itchy skin reactions are evident, it is better not to get a dog. These allergies do not disappear and will more likely become serious health issues over time. Dogs need to live in the house with its family – never consider getting a dog and making it live outside due to allergy problems. Dogs are social animals and need affection and contact from their family.

Remember that having a puppy in the house generally means more housework. They shed fur, they crunch up biscuits on the carpet, they come into the house with mud on their paws and coat and are sometimes destructive with furniture, shoes, books and other items in the house. Are you able to cope with this? If you enjoy a fastidiously clean house, then maybe you wouldn’t make a good dog owner. Certain breeds shed less fur than others so that’s worth considering when deciding which breed, if any, would suit you.

In all, the key here is to give yourself a lot of time to consider if a dog is really for you, and if so, which breed would truly suit your lifestyle and family circumstances, both now and in the foreseeable future. A dog can truly be a joy in your life, but only if you’re prepared for the reality of taking on such a responsibility.