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Advice for New College Grads – Are You Ready for a Dog?

3 easy tips to figure out if you have the time, money, and commitment necessary to adopt a dog right now.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #121

You’ve graduated, got your act together, and found an apartment. You’ve even got a job to pay for it and you’re feeling pretty good about your newfound adulthood. But something’s missing. You grew up with a well-loved dog, and your sofa is starting to look naked without anyone to shed on it. Come to think of it, though, your parents were the ones who took Zippy for long walks, and bought his dog food, and took him to the vet. You don’t even remember how they provided for Zippy when the family went on vacation – you just know they did something. Are you ready to play Caretaker in Chief for a dog of your own?

Three big factors that will help you decide:

Money
Time
Commitment

Those last two aren’t as much alike as they might seem.

Factor #1 -- Money

You can find estimates of pet care costs all over the Internet; the ASPCA has a good one, and it explains the basis for its figures. A given food will cost more or less the same no matter where you live in the U.S., but fees for veterinary care and manners training depend heavily on overhead, like rent. If you’re on a tight budget, research prices locally. What does a basic reward-based manners class cost? What do various vets charge for an annual exam, including bloodwork? Get a sense of what your budget will look like.

By the way, I’m not saying you should go for the cheapest option, because it may not be a good one. Sometimes the least expensive vet is perfectly fine, and sometimes he’s the guy who hasn’t updated his instruments in a decade, or who still isn’t doing the lab work in house. As for classes, smaller ones are likely to cost more than bigger ones, but you’ll get more personal attention.  

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About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).