Nashville, TN

Are you ~Actually~ Ready To Get A Dog?

Ashlyn E. Inman

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After spending a certain amount of time with someone who has a dog, you may begin to wonder "Is it the right time for me to get a dog?"

As someone who doesn't have a dog yet herself and nearly cries when she sees a puppy up for adoption, I am in the state of debating what getting a dog would actually look like. I've accompanied friends and their pups to dog parks and bark bars, and there's a puppy-sized hole in my heart. But there's so much more to having a dog than playtime. I've done the research on the pros and cons of getting a dog for all those who are also considering taking the leap into paw-rent hood.

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The Costs

Let's say you decide to adopt a dog. Adopting a dog from a shelter can cost anywhere from $0-600. It depends on the shelter you're looking at adopting from. ASPCA charges $75-200 to adopt, which gives a good indication of the price of adoption organizations. smaller agencies like Wags and walks of Nashville, charges $450. Your local shelter will most likely have the cheapest rates but will have less selection. For instance, at Nashville's Animal Control Shelter it's $90 to take home a dog, but they only have 16 dogs and only one of those dogs is still a puppy. If you are open to skipping the puppy phase, heading to your local shelter is the best option.

Now if you're looking for a particular breed or a hypoallergenic mix. you'll probably have to buy from a breeder. For instance, if you want a purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a puppy costs $600-$1000 on average. On PuppySpot, I found some joy $3000-4000. Or if you want something that won't set off your allergies like a Labra doodle, you're looking at an average price of $500 - $3000. I recently saw a litter of Labradoodles on Craigslist going for $600 a pup. If you are considering buying from a breeder, please research the breeding environment to ensure its a humane process.

As we continue breaking down costs, I'm going to use a flat $500 price for adoption. No matter which route you take to bring home your furry friend, that cost will most likely include the pup's initial vaccinations and other veterinary treatments.

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Your state may require you to license your pet. In Tennessee, licensing is legally required and costs $8 each year for as long as the rabies vaccination lasts.

Dog food costs around $20-60 per month. You can get Purina One Smart Blend Natural Puppy Food on Amazon for $21.84 a bag. And of course, there are treats on top of that. DentaStix come at $10.82 a bag and various other treats cost anywhere from $5-15. For food, we'll estimate $40 a month.

How much you spend on toys and other accessories depends on how much you'd like to pamper your pet. I'm using Amazon for price referencing since most people have Prime. you can get a 30' rectangular dog bed for $25. You can get a medium Kong toy for $11 and buy the filler for $ 14. (or you can pick up a jar of peanut butter.) You can get a four pack of tennis balls for $6.50. And for fun, you can get a fluffy hedgehog toy for $6. You can pick up a set of two large decorative storage bins (one for toys, one for treats) for $20. You can also snag a 25lb Airtight Pet food storage bin for $17. You can grab 2 stainless steel water bowls for $11 for your pup's food and water. You can buy a heavy-duty rope leash for $11 and a collar to match for $13. You can even get a tag for your dog on Amazon for $4! All of that together plus a $20 safety net for anything I missed comes out to $147.50. So you're looking at an additional $150 in start off costs.

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To get your new pet micro chipped generally costs $45. Just like humans, dogs need vaccines too. You also have to get your pup medicine to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworm which will approximately cost $380 on the more expensive side of things.

And of course, there are vet bills. To minimize vet costs, you can get pet insurance from a variety of agencies from anywhere from $ 10-70 a month. I received a free quote from Lemonade in a matter of minutes that covers diagnostics, procedures, medication, accidents and illnesses for $20.17 a month. The policy covers $20,000 a year with a $200 deductible, and they pay 90% of the bills to care for the pet.

If you pick a dog that doesn't shed, grooming will also be a cost to consider. Grooming costs an average of $50 per session with a professional.

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If you travel often or don’t think you’ll be at home for a full day, dog boarding costs an average of $40 a night and doggie daycare usually runs around $25 a day.

If you plan on spaying or neutering your pet, it will cost anywhere from $35-400 without insurance.

That should cover all the expenses. To essentially get a puppy starter kit, you're looking at $730. Month to month going forward, you can estimate $80-100 with extra costs here and there.

When getting a dog, you have to realize the responsibilities included with owning a live animal. You have to have the space for the dog or the willingness to take the pup out to get fresh air. The dog needs love and attention, and you shouldn't get a puppy if you don't have the time to care for it.

Luckily, a lot of us are working from home right now so you might have more time for training. Speaking of training. if you want to attend classes to have your dog professionally trained it's going to average $30-80 per class.

It's also important to note that if you aren't ready to pick up an animal's poop off the ground, you are not ready for a dog. The same goes for cleaning up vomit.

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The Benefits

With all the costs associated with getting a dog, what's the point of having one?

The AKC published an article in 2020 that listed 10 Science-Based Benefits of Having a Dog. You can read the full article, but I'll summarize the list here.

Dogs: make us feel less alone, are good for heart health, reduce anxiety, help us cope with crisis, make us more social, increase happiness, and more.

The CDC States that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride, and feelings of loneliness. A dog can also increase your opportunity for exercise and outdoor activities.

So science says, dog good.

Dogs offer companionship and unconditional love on top of being absolutely adorable.

While you may be looking for a quick way to boost your serotonin levels, it all goes back to if you are actually ready for the commitment of responsibility. We want to take dogs out of shelters for good, not to just bring them back in a few months.

I can't answer the title question for you, but hopefully all this information in one place helps you answer it for yourself.

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I grew up in a small town in rural California, and earned my B.F.A. at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC. After graduating, I moved to NYC where I lived for three years before relocating to Nashville. And that brings us to date! I've worked a variety of jobs from being on a farm to being on a stage to being in a cubicle. In short, I've lived the big city life, the small town life, the southern life, the northern life, and you get the idea. I'll be writing about entertainment and lifestyle topics for the most part because I have a background in theater, live in Music City, and also work for a fitness company! (Check out @WeightingForWarriors on Instagram!) ​ When I'm not writing you can probably find me reading, baking, crafting something, or screaming at a football game on TV.

Nashville, TN
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