If you’re considering getting a dog, you are in the right place.

Yes, dogs are adorable and friendly, and everything the 12 pages of your best doggie calendar promises, but they are also a lot of work.

Now, if raising your puppy or dog were your full-time job, it likely wouldn’t be a problem. The reality, though, is that most of us have full-time jobs. We also have homes that need care. Some of us have families. That’s not to mention the time you want to spend relaxing or having a social life. This is why it is so important to do some soul-searching before you buy a pet.

There are a lot of reasons why people choose to bring home a new puppy. Here are some of the most popular:

  • They want their kids to grow up with a pet.
  • They want companionship.
  • They want a little companion to get active with.
  • They want a guard dog.
  • They want a cuddly friend to welcome them home daily.
  • They want a consistently happy wagging tail around.

Now, all of these are valid reasons IF they are viewed realistically. For example, let’s take “companionship.”

Dogs are great companions when you’re around, but when you’re not around, they still need care. We’re not talking about something you can “take out” when you’re available and put away when you’re not. As long as you recognize the commitment, you may be on the right track to having a pet.

The critical questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Why do I want a pet, and is the reason realistic?
  2. How much time do I have for training?

If you can honestly come up with valid answers to both, congratulations—you MAY be ready for a dog! Note the “may be ready.” The next thing to consider is what kind of dog you want. Based on the time you have and the lifestyle you lead, you should approximate a good training schedule with which you can work.

The reality of breeds is that some dogs need more training than others. Some dogs are “built” with more intense traits that you may (or may not) want. For example, Chow Chows are beautiful dogs, but by nature, they tend to be independent, aloof, quiet, one-person dogs. If you have a large family with lots of children and chaos, this may not be the dog to try to train into it. Also, if you work long hours, this may not be the pet for you because Chow Chows like to bond with one main person in the pack. If that isn’t you, it will likely be the person with whom the dog spends the most time.

It is important to get a general profile of your pet’s temperament. Now, of course, all dogs are unique, but in general, knowing the traits of the breed will give you some insight into the type of dog you’re going to be managing.

After careful though, if you have time for training and companionship along with direction and care, you are likely ready for a pet. A big part of that is making room in your life for your dog. Just like a child, a dog is a huge lifelong commitment. Here is where a good training plan and schedule will serve you well.

The following is a guide to get you started on one of the most fulfilling relationships you will be privileged to have.