Are you thinking about getting a dog?

Are you thinking about getting a dog but wondering if now is the right time? Are you wondering if a dog is really right for you at all, right for your family or your lifestyle?

Note from Mel & Jess: Before we get into things, it's well worth mentioning that we had planned this article before COVID-19 had taken hold of our lives. Within the pet space, we have seen some major changes to the landscape during this time. The biggest change being an enormous demand for new dog ownership, dog rescue and even for our own 'helper' volunteer service. 

This surge in demand reflects the very human desire to spend isolation with a furry buddy, we get it, dogs make incredible companions.

For some people the decision to bring a dog into their lives has just been fast tracked. With so many of us housebound, it’s a seemingly perfect opportunity to bond with your new pup.

It's really important to us that the decision to have a dog join your family is not something that's taken into lightly. We see the real impact of dogs joining lifestyles where they are not well-suited. Even well-meaning new dog owners can underestimate the demands that a dog can add to our lives.

We agonised over releasing this article as we would implore anyone considering dog ownership to really think through this decision and be sure you are prepared for everything that lies ahead.

These two articles speak specifically to the challenges and considerations of dog ownership taken into during COVID and are well worth a read:

1. Five things to consider before adopting a dog during lockdown - by ABC Life 

2. Raising a Puppy During the COVID Lockdown - by trainer Laura Mundy 

Benefits of owning a dog

Did you know that it’s proven that dogs make people happier and healthier? Mel researched it in her final year of psychology and the statistics are incredible. Dogs are brilliant for all ages and in particular, children and the elderly.

·      They teach us how to care for something other than ourselves

·      They can help reduce stress, by lowering blood pressure

·      Lessen anxiety

·      Help to limit allergies in kids who grow up with dogs

·      Keep us fit and healthy

Dogs keep us company, they don’t judge us, they always get excited to see us and they give us that very special loyalty and unconditional love.

Yes, you might be able to tell that we are both extreme dog lovers. However, we have also seen what can happen when someone takes on a dog and it doesn’t work out. It can be heartbreaking for both the dog and the owners.

So, here is our overview of what responsible dog ownership entails:


In the early days of dog ownership, it’s no understatement to expect to be spending time training and teaching your new dog every day. And then there’s the time commitment of walking your dog daily, making sure you are home to feed your dog, visits to the vet, grooming, cleaning up all the poo. The list goes on!


Dogs are social beings and they require plenty of attention, affection and mental stimulation too. If they become bored, they will become destructive (Which can add to point number 3 below!)


With a dog/puppy comes plenty of additional costs such as;

-       Initial adoption or purchase fee

-       Dog food

-       Pet Insurance

-       Vet bills

-       Dog equipment and toys

-       Holiday care for your dog when you are away  

There are so many incredible and rewarding benefits that comes with having a dog, but also lots of responsibility.



Before getting a dog ask yourself these 10 questions…

  1.  Is your lifestyle suitable for a dog? If you are going to leave the dog alone most working days, what plans do you have to keep your dog occupied? How often do you go away and have you considered budgeting for dog care if your new dog isn’t able to join you?
  2. Is the whole family committed to this dog, for at least 15 years (sometimes more if you are lucky!) and helping to train it?
  3. Is your house set up for a dog? Do you have the space, right rental agreements and a safe yard?  
  4. Are you able to take some time off when you get the dog to help it settle in?
  5. Do you have the time and patience to invest into training? This is an everyday commitment for the first few years of dog ownership and requires ongoing attention.  
  6. Do you have the budget for a dog? (pssst. Stay tuned for a budgeting update we are organising to help you plan for this)
  7. Do you have the time to exercise your dog? Dogs need daily exercise. Just like us, they need to get out of the house. A tired dog is more likely to be a well behaved dog so this is important. Not just on those warm sunny days, but also throughout winter. So you need to be prepared for this.
  8. Are you prepared for the mistakes your dog might make? i.e. chewing your favourite shoes. Puppies are just learning. So we need to be patient with them. Set them up for success. But there’s sure to be a few accidents along the way. Don’t be fooled, adult dogs can also get bored if not exercised or stimulated enough and become destructive.
  9. Do you really want a dog, or do you just want to spend time with one?
  10. Is now the right time?

If you can’t answer yes to all these questions, consider finding other ways to hang out with a dog and re-look at dog ownership at another time.

There are lots of great ways to spend time with dogs, including volunteering and fostering with local rescue groups and shelters, or applying to the Dogshare ‘helper’ program.

As dog owners ourselves, we are not trying to talk you out of getting a dog, owning a dog is one of the greatest joys.

But let’s not sugar-coat it, dogs are hard work.  

Dogs are incredible living and breathing friends that will be in your family for possibly the next 15 years with lots of responsibilities attached. Whether it’s a puppy you are getting or rescuing an older dog, they all need special love, care and attention when first settling into your home and throughout their lives. So please don’t take this decision lightly.

If you have made your mind up, and you are ready to proceed with Dog Ownership, be sure to read our next article in this series: So you want a dog? Where to (responsibly) get one  


Mel Ritterman is a qualified dog trainer and mum-of-three. You can find more information about Mel on her website Cooper and Kids, or follow her on Instagram or Facebook. If you have a question for Mel feel free to email her at mel@cooperandkids.com. 

Disclaimer: Dogshare and Mel Ritterman will not be liable for anything that happens to you or your dog by following our advice and tips. If you have real concerns or worries about your dog, please seek out a professional vet or behaviourist to come and assess the situation.

Cover photo by AndriyKo Podilnyk