get a dog 1I hear it all the time; young adults saying they want a puppy. This is great – if only they weren’t living in a dorm-room.

Bringing a puppy home is always exciting but many people fail to realize just how much of a commitment they are. If you are willing to dedicate the time your new pooch needs then having a pet can be a rewarding and fulfilling time in your life. But many puppy purchasers fail to ask the right questions and really think through their new commitment.

One of the main things potential owners fail to realize is just how much time dogs require. Beyond daily walks, dogs require you to be around more than you would think, and if you’re living in a home that does not have a yard accessible to them whenever they want, then this will be one of the main problems you as an owner will face.

When I adopted my dog I lived in a condo facing a park. Although I did not have a yard, my problem was easily fixed by the quick access I had to the park. I also had a roommate who’s schedule was different from mine, and she would graciously take my dog out when she got home, which was always before me. Because of this my dog was outside a few times a day to relieve herself and run for a bit. Had it not been for the park, and my roommate having a schedule that overlapped mine, my poor dog would have been locked inside for nine hours a day. This is way too long for a dog to be inside without the ability to go to the bathroom, and many college aged kids who decide to get a dog fail to realize this before making the commitment.

Another issue I had was when I decided to move out of the condo and into a smaller place by myself. I still didn’t have a yard, and was dealing with a schedule that kept me away from home for up to ten hours a day. Luckily my parents live down the street and would allow my dog to go to their house during the day where she could play with their dogs and be outside. Again, if it wasn’t for my parents my dog would be in an un-ideal situation.

Out for a friend’s birthday and want to crash at their place? Too bad, you need to get home because you have a pet depending on you to let them outside and feed them.

Want to pack up and leave for a spontaneous three-day weekend? You better have a dog-sitter lined up to watch your pet for you.

Not only are these factors often overlooked, but unforeseen vet bills can leave some new owners in over their heads.

For example, one night I thought I had accidentally given my dog too much dewormer medication and was afraid it was going toget a dog make her sick. I called the animal poison control hotline to speak to a vet because it was 10:00 p.m. at night and my vet office was closed. Sixty dollars and ten minutes later the vet told me my dog was going to be A-okay. Was the call to make sure she was going to be okay worth it? Absolutely. Did I know I was going to spend sixty dollars on the call? Nope.

Don’t get me wrong, I am madly in love with my dog and there isn’t a day that goes by where I regret adopting her. But too often do wonderful dogs end up in a shelter because the owner didn’t do their research, ask the right questions, and fully understand what they were committing to when getting a dog.

My advice to those thinking about getting a dog is remember a dog is forever, and not just for right now. Only get a dog when you can be the caregiver they need you to be.