What to consider financially when getting a new dog

You might be emotionally ready for a dog, but are you financially prepared for one? Learn more about the costs that go into being a good dog owner.

by Good Dog

Beyond the initial price from the breeder or rescue organization you work with, getting a new puppy or adult dog will take a lot of mental, physical and financial resources. At the end of the day, it’s totally worth it to have a happy and healthy pup thriving in your home.

Much like our article on how your life will change when you get a dog, and the questions to ask yourself before you become a new puppy parent, these are some general costs you can expect to pay soon after your dog comes home and other costs that will continue for years in the future. These fall into four main categories: health, food, training and enrichment.

Health

Luckily, the breeders and other organizations who work with Good Dog have already ensured that your pup has the best chance of coming home very happy and healthy. However, maintaining their good health status will require effort on your part.

Before your dog comes home, you should schedule a vet appointment so your new pup can be checked by your vet of choice; puppies will likely need more rounds of shots in the upcoming weeks. The shots, depending on how old your puppy is and if they received any before they came home with you, could cost between $60-$120 plus any fees your vet charges for routine visits.

Once your puppy has his or her basic shots and is ready to start socializing with other dogs at daycare, obedience school and other public places, they’ll be exposed to new environments and types of dogs/animals that they’ve never met before. It’s good to bring them in for a checkup with your vet soon after they get used to life with you to see if they’ve picked up any bugs or minor diseases from their new friends.

Most veterinarians suggest bringing in your pets for yearly health check-ups, just as you visit your own doctor for the same. This will help them keep an eye on your pup as they grow up and be able to spot anything unusual or out of the ordinary for them. The costs for vet visits depend on your choice of veterinarian, if you have pet insurance and the degree of urgency your pet requires.

Food

Just like with humans, food for your puppy will take up an important part of your pet budget. Depending on the breed and age of your dog, they’ll require different types of food.

It isn’t necessary to spend big bucks on fancy fresh pet food, but your puppy will need nutritious- and calorie-packed foods to grow as well as they can. They’ll also be eating frequently for the first few weeks home with you, so you may find yourself going through food more quickly than you anticipated. Check with your breeder, shelter and vet ideally before bringing your pup home to make sure you have the right kind of food on hand and to learn how much/how often to feed your puppy.

Eventually, adult dogs will likely eat about twice a day (minus any fun treats you give them), but puppies will be eating 3-4 times a day while they’re growing.

Speaking of treats, puppies are very food-motivated little creatures. Having different types of treats on hand, from small bite-sized goodies that are appropriate to bring on walks or use in training, to safe-for-puppies “bones” that are good to chew on, you’ll need to keep a good amount of options around the house. Treats can help occupy your puppy and be used in enriching toys that tucker them out mentally, as well as to help train your pup to use their crate or to follow the new commands you’ll be teaching them.

The actual cost of food and treats will depend on the amount you buy and the quality of the brands you support; some pet supply stores offer discounts to new puppy parents which can help with big ticket early purchases. On average, a 12-15 lb. bag of puppy food costs about $35, and about $13 for 2 lbs. of fresh food from your local pet supply store.

You can also cook your own dog food using good proteins (like chicken, fish or lean beef), carbs (like rice), veggies (like peas or carrots) and other high-nutrition ingredients. If this sounds like what you’d prefer to do for your dog, speak with your vet first to make sure your puppy is getting the proper nutrients from that diet plan.

Training Training isn’t just to teach your dog fun tricks like “shake” or “roll over.” An important part of a puppy’s early life is learning to listen to their owners’ commands so they can stay as safe as possible.

Introductory puppy obedience classes are typically 5-8 week courses, depending on where you enroll, and cost about $130 on average. There are subsequent classes you can enroll your dog in, so they can continue learning potentially life-saving skills and how to listen to you.

Depending on where you live or are planning on living, your apartment building might require dogs to be certified as Canine Good Citizens before accepting dogs as residents. This training and test can be done through many local pet supply stores or certified training instructors.

You may also need to bring a trainer or instructor to your home if you want to make sure you’re properly training your dog; this can also be useful if you’ve noticed behavioral issues with your pup that are outside of the typical ups and downs of doghood. These visits can cost between $100-$300 per hour of training.

Enrichment

Your puppy will need toys, beds, collars, harnesses, leashes, jackets, snow/rain booties, poop bags, and much more. Some of these items will need to be replaced as your pup grows up, or if they happen to urinate on them in a way that can’t be salvaged. Accidents happen!

A lot goes into creating a happy, safe and warm home for your new dog, even if it verges on the edge of “spoiling” them. Toys and chew toys are not just to distract your puppy while you try to get something else done; they keep your dog’s mind and instincts sharp, and can also help with comfort and teething issues.

You will also need safe travel carriers, which should be on hand when you pick your dog up. These can cost about $20-$40. Having a non-travel crate at home is also necessary if you plan on crate-training your puppy (i.e. training them to sleep there at night or to be comfortable with being inside the crate if necessary during the day). Expect to pay about $15-$40, depending on the size and materials of the crate.

You might also consider getting an exercise pen; these can be indoor or outdoor and can help keep your puppy in one area of your house if you can’t watch them for just a few minutes. In general, puppies can’t really be left to their own devices, but sometimes humans have other things to do for a few. Similarly, baby gates can help corral your pup and keep them out of places they’re not allowed to go. Exercise pens can cost around $30, and baby gates are about $15 each.

Since not every company offers the benefit of “pupternity” leave, there will also come a time when you can’t spend every waking moment (and then some) with your pup. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to hire a dogwalker, dogsitter, or enroll your puppy into doggy daycare. On average, daycare can cost between $30-$50 per day, depending on the amount of hours you sign them up for. (FYI: Your dog will need to have all of its shots up-to-date, and many places will require your dog to go through a temperament test so the daycare can ensure that all dogs can handle being around other dogs.)

The cost of owning and raising a dog can seem high, but the end result is to create the best environment possible for your puppy. These costs are important to keep in mind when making the decision to get a dog because many of them will recur over years and add up over time; financial stress can lead to abandonment if dog owners aren’t aware of what it takes to raise an animal.

By providing them with many play options and items/routines designed to keep them safe, your puppy will be totally set up for a healthy and well-adjusted life!