Bringing a dog into your life can provide companionship, exercise, fun and even help keep the doctor away. Man’s best friend can make you laugh, help you relax and keep your mind and body active, research shows.
But before you add a little bark to your retirement, do some research. Dogs come in all sizes and personalities, just like individuals. The decision to adopt a dog should be taken with careful consideration to ensure you find the perfect pal for you. First, determine: are you really ready for a dog?
Are you ready for a dog?
Are you willing to change? A dog will change your life. While he’ll happily greet you at your feet each morning and curl up next to you on the couch at night, he will also rely on you for everything. Food, exercise, grooming, training, veterinary visits – you must take all of this into consideration.
Have you had a pet before? If not, you may want to talk to other pet owners. Find a fellow retiree who brought a dog into his or her life.
Is the community where you live, or plan to live, pet friendly? An increasing number of retirement living communities have become pet-friendly as they recognize the health and social benefits.
Will you be adopting the dog by yourself? If you are married, make sure any concerns are expressed before bringing a dog home.
How much time and energy can you dedicate to a dog each day? This will also factor into what kind of dog you choose, as some breeds require more attention and activity than others.
Are finances an issue? Owning a dog on average costs nearly $1,200 a year, not including any unexpected medical expenses.
What are your expectations? Think about the reasons why you want to bring a dog into your life. Make sure they align with what a dog can actually provide.
How to Choose a Dog
A dog is as individual and unique as a human being. Each one has its own personality, characteristics and size.
Finding the right dog for you depends on what you are looking for. Do you want a laid-back lap dog? Would you rather have a spunky dog that’s eager for a brisk morning walk?
Characteristics to keep in mind when choosing a dog:
Age: Are you interested in a puppy or an adult dog? Young dogs require more training, attention and supervision. Older dogs are typically easier to handle and more behaved but may be prone to health issues.
Temperament: While each dog is individual, certain breeds are known for certain attributes. For example, a Jack Russell terrier is often high energy while a Shih Tzu is more content sitting on his owner’s lap. Make sure to observe and interact with a dog before you make a final decision to find the dog that’s compatible with you.
Size: Size is often a factor in the amount of exercise, food and space you’ll need for a dog. Make sure to take into consideration the size of the dog, or how big a puppy will grow, along with its temperament.
Health: Have the dog examined by a professional before you bring him home. You want an overall health and wellness check. Also, make sure you are working with a reputable breeder if you are choosing a purebred puppy.