Adopting a dog in New York City has it’s unique challenges – most of us don’t have yards, most of us work long hours, and most of us already have pretty high monthly expenses. Dogs are incredible companions, and adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it’s really important not to adopt a dog to hastily. Here are some things to consider:
- Walks, walks, and more walks – Dogs need to go outside to go to the bathroom, typically at least 3 times a day (sometimes 10+ times/day during puppy house training!), so you need to either take them out or get a dog walker who will. We are talking about over 1000 walks each year, rain, snow or shine! And they need to go out even if you are stuck at work, sick in bed, or hurricane sandy is bearing down. 3 walks, every day. It’s a lot to do. NYC dog walkers run about $15-$25 PER walk, so while that is a solution, it adds up quickly. And remember, in NYC it may take 10 minutes just to get in and out of your building down stairs or elevators – it’s not like a suburb where you just open the door to your yard to let the dog out.
- Vet bills – Medical bills for dogs add up quickly. Routine visits and immunizations at NYC veterinarians can easily run $200-$800, and emergency visits or illness can run from $200-$10,000! To make matters worse, most pet insurance will only cover non-routine incidents. I often find vet visits are way more expensive than my own visits to doctors.
- Food – Like walks, dogs need to eat every day, usually twice each day. This means that you or someone else must be home to feed them, and also that you have to factor in dog food into your monthly expenses. Canned dog food runs about $2/can, and a giant 30-pound bag of kibble is approximately $50.
- Can’t leave them alone too long – Dogs are very social creatures, with humans and other dogs, and need you around. They whither when they don’t have social interactions with you or other people or dogs. Yes they can probably handle being away from you while you are at work, but you can’t leave them by themselves for a weekend, or go on a trip without arranging for their care. Boarding in NYC runs from $50-90 per 24-hour period. Again this adds up.
- They require training – No matter what dog you adopt, he/she is probably going to require some training. Bathroom training, behavioral training, sit/come/stay training, bite inhibition training, don’t destroy my shoes/furniture/kid’s toy training – all required. And along the way you may have some accidents on your rug to clean up, favorite (now destroyed) shoes to throw away, or behavioral incidents with guests or other dogs to deal with. Are you ready? Dog training in NYC runs about $100/hour, and typically requires at least 5-10 hours.
If you have the time, money and patience, adopting a dog is an incredible life-changing experience. But PLEASE be ready before adopting a dog. And if you do adopt and find that you just cant take it (it happens), please find another home or a no-kill shelter for him/her.