10 things you should take note of when getting a dog

Planning to grow your household by four paws? We have valuable tips directly from dog owners from our own ranks
Thilo
17.3.2020

Planning to grow your household by four paws? We have valuable tips directly from dog owners from our own ranks - because, at Coya, we share the office with more than half a dozen four-legged friends!

1. A dog means responsibility

We assume you’ve already thought about this, but it never hurts to mention it again: anyone getting a dog should be aware that man's best friend takes up a lot of time and needs attention, education, guidance and love. The dog will become part of your everyday life - for more than a decade. You will be completely responsible for a living being that depends on you in many ways. After all, the little rascal can't exactly prepare his own food or just hop on the toilet for a moment. As romantic as the idea of a dog is, it’s also clear that a dog costs money. In addition to regular costs for food and care, there are also vet’s bills - not only in case of illness, but also, for example, for recurring vaccinations to protect against infectious diseases or regular deworming. Further costs arise from the dog tax (see point 7) and liability insurance (see point 8). You should definitely expect to pay between €100 and €200 per month.

2. The type of dog: which one suits you?

When choosing a dog, you should make sure that the character of the animal suits you and your lifestyle. Some dogs, for example, need a lot more exercise and running around than other dogs (although exercise is, of course, a basic requirement - no dog will chill out on the couch with you watching Netflix all day); other dogs are particularly suitable for families and others have a strong hunting instinct. On this page, you can find out which dog suits you best.

Regardless of whether the dog is from a breeder or a shelter, get the medical history of the animal explained to you, as well as the health information of the dog’s parents. Pay special attention to hip joint and knee problems - they can severely impair the quality of life of the animal and can result in high veterinary costs. The dog must also be chipped and sufficiently vaccinated.

More tips on buying a dog:

  • Origin: Where does the dog come from? What’s its pedigree? Are there any previous illnesses on the part of the parents? If it’s a puppy, ask to see the mother.
  • What’s your first impression of the dog: alert, calm or apathetic? Is the coat clean or dirty? Is the dog thin or bloated by worms?
  • Price: For a pedigree dog from a breeder, it normally costs between €600 and €1,200. If the dog is offered for less, you should be suspicious. Ask the breeder how the price was reached and compare different offers.

3. Are dogs allowed in your rented apartment or house?

If you are thinking about buying a dog and you live in a rented house or flat , check your rental contract and talk to your landlord! Dogs are not always welcomed by landlords and, since you live in their property, they have the right to prohibit you from having them. Landlords are not allowed to forbid the keeping of pets in general, but they can decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not they agree to someone having a dog. So it’s important to pay attention to the wording of the rental contract. The exclusion of any kind of animal husbandry is not legal, but the prohibition of owning a dog is possible after examining the individual case. If the rental agreement allows the keeping of pets in principle, then this also applies to dogs, as they are considered "normal" pets.

If pets are not mentioned in the rental contract, it unfortunately does not automatically mean that you can keep an animal - it’s best to clarify the issue directly with the landlord. Furthermore, apartment owners do not automatically have the right to keep a dog. For example, owning a dog may be prohibited if there is an agreement to this effect by the owners' association.

4. Making your home "dog-proof"!

If you share your home with a dog, you should prepare it beforehand and make it "dog-proof", especially if it’s a puppy that’s moving in with you. Be careful with sharp edges or loose cables, stow away cleaning products and medication, and don’t put food on low surfaces. Dogs are curious, especially at a young age, and are playful, so of course they don't just lie still in their basket. You should also think about the necessary equipment such as a collar, leash, feeding bowls, sleeping place, coat care and possible toys in advance.

In the beginning, your dog will still be insecure or he might react anxiously to his new environment - this is completely normal. Make his arrival in his new home as pleasant as possible (quiet environment without sources of danger, sufficient cuddles, walks and playtime) but, at the same time, make sure that the rules are clear; the dog’s education begins the moment he enters his new home. Dogs need clear guidelines - they give them the necessary confidence to build up a bond with the pack.

If you already have other pets, think about how they will get along with the dog. Will they all have enough space and places to get away from each other?

5. Dog training - it’s more than just "Sit! Sit! Down, boy!"

Dogs need clear rules - and a lot of training. There are many simple tricks you can use to train or re-educate a dog. However, training requires time and stamina - it’s a lifelong task. If you’re getting a dog for the first time and are inexperienced in training dogs, you can get help and contact a dog trainer or attend a dog school. There, they will not only work with the dog, but also with its master or mistress. Whether you decide to educate your dog yourself or go to a dog school, your dog will thank you for it!

6. Choosing the right food

When picking the right dog food, it’s not only a matter of taste but, above all, achieving a balanced diet. Not all food is the same - which dog food is the right one depends on various factors such as the age of the dog, temperament and breed, as well as health. Just like with humans, there is the right food for certain phases of the dog's life: puppies receive special puppy food, while adult dogs, who are already less active, should receive dog food for seniors. It is also important to consider the dog’s individual preferences. Whether dry or wet food, this question cannot be answered in a generalised way - the preferences and specific needs of the animal are the deciding factor. With both, however, one should definitely pay attention to quality. Food of inferior quality can, under certain circumstances, lead to allergies, deficiency symptoms and digestive problems. A dog suffering from allergies or diseases should be given food that has been agreed upon with the vet.

7. Dog tax

We’re in Germany so of course there’s a dog tax. Almost every dog owner in this country has to pay taxes on their dog. Only a few dog owners are exempt, e.g. shepherds, dog breeders or blind people. How high the dog tax is depends on the municipality you live in. The contribution varies between €5 and €185 per year. You can find out the details from the responsible public order office or the city administration. You can usually register the dog there too.

There are also certain regulations, such as basic husbandry restrictions or the obligation to keep your dog on a leash or in a muzzle. As there are no uniform regulations in Germany that apply nationwide, it is best to enquire directly at the public order office in your city. Depending on the federal state, different rules may apply.

8. Dog owner liability insurance - Hundehaftpflichtversicherung - long word, great importance

As important as private liability insurance is for us humans, dog owner liability insurance is just as important for everyone who owns a dog. It doesn't matter whether it's a mongrel or a pedigree dog: even the best trained four-legged friend can do something wrong and cause damage. As a dog owner, you are liable for all damages caused by the animal. This includes minor damage to property, as well as traffic accidents and injuries caused by dog bites. In some German federal states, dog owner liability insurance is therefore mandatory, and dog schools and animal sitters will almost always require dog owner liability insurance. There are many providers on the market. Among other things, pay attention to the excess; with some insurance policies, you have to pay a share yourself in case of damage - that's why they speak of a deductible or excess. This also means that you have to pay for damages whose costs are within the excess - the insurance only covers the costs that are higher. With Coya dog liability insurance, there are no deductibles - you do not have to pay a share in case of damage.

Besides the dog owner's liability insurance, you should also think about health insurance for your dog, so that you do not have to pay the costs in case of an accident or surgery and your dog gets the care he needs.

9. When you are travelling

Of course everyone goes on holiday or is on the road sometimes. With a dog, you have to consider whether you can take him with you or put him up with friends, family or check him into a "dog hotel" during your absence. Naturally, a familiar environment is better for the animal, because it will definitely miss its master or mistress. Whoever looks after your dog, it’s important that the person has enough time to go out with him, play with him and just be there for him. Previous experience with dogs is also an advantage.

If you take your dog with you on holiday, you should first check which regulations apply in your chosen destination. It may also be necessary to get certain vaccinations. A holiday in nature with lots of space to run around is of course ideal.

10. Coat Care

With all dogs, coat care is not to be neglected. How intensive it should be depends on the breed and the type of coat - long-haired dogs of course need more care than their short-haired peers. Brushing the coat is especially important in spring and autumn - this is when many dogs change their coat. Dead hairs must be removed so that the coat can grow back healthily. Make sure you have the appropriate equipment. Some dogs also love it when you wash their fur.

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