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5 things to consider before applying for a service dog

Getting a service dog can be the best thing that you ever do. They can help you to manage your condition and make it easier for you to live your life, both out in public and at home. However, applying for a service dog is not something that should be done lightly. Just like bringing any pet into the family, there are many things to consider:

Can you afford the initial cost of a service dog?

When you apply for a service dog, you will be asked to make a donation towards the training and care of the dog. You will usually have around one year to reach the target, which at ‘Canines for Change’ is approximately $12,000.

In our blog, we have written extensively about ways in which you can fundraise for your service dog. Here are some ways in which you could help to raise some of the funds for your service dog:

Are you financially able to commit to caring for a dog for 15 years?

We estimate the average yearly cost of owning a dog to be between $500 and $3,000 per year. Most service dogs can be expected to live until around fifteen years old. That means a potential lifetime investment of $7,500 – $45,000. This is made up from a combination of regular costs such as food and vaccinations, to one-off/irregular costs such as veterinary charges and dental care.

For more information about the cost of owning a dog, visit our article.

Are you prepared to care for a dog on a daily basis?

Having a service dog is a lifelong commitment. Not only do you need to be able to provide financially for the dog, but you also need to care for him. You’ll need to feed him several times a day, let him outside regularly for toilet breaks, walk him at least once a day, groom him, play with him and train him to ensure his physical and mental wellbeing.

A service dog deserves the same love, affection and time as any other dog. You must be willing to care for the dog as one of your family for the rest of his life.

Are you prepared to invest time in ongoing training?

A service dog requires regular ongoing training to ensure they are working effectively for you and your specific needs. You will need to learn how to communicate with the dog to let him know when you need his assistance. Likewise, you have to learn how he reacts to certain stimuli so that you know what messages he is trying to tell you.

It can take months to build up a strong level of trust with your service dog. You will need to put in many hours working on a one-to-one basis with the dog, as well as taking him to organized training sessions at the therapy centre that provided him to you.

Here are some ideas for how to build trust with your dog.

Are the other people in your house comfortable with getting a service dog?

Having a dog in the house doesn’t just affect you. Whether you live with family members, friends or housemates, it is imperative that everyone in your house is comfortably and happy with the idea of bringing a dog into a household.

If you are in a house share situation, you will need to have some in-depth conversations to ensure that your housemates are not afraid of, allergic to or have otherwise negative feelings towards having a dog in the house.

If you have young children in the family, you should prepare them for life with a dog and teach them how to behave safely and appropriately around them.

Service & therapy dogs in the news

Every service dog and therapy dog is special, and newsworthy in their own right. They work tirelessly to protect people – whether that’s a therapy dog’s handler or members of the public.

However, every now and then, a story surfaces that is just that little bit more special than normal.  Here are some stories featuring service and therapy dogs that have recently appeared in news stories around the world.

Poppy the seizure alert dog is captured on camera

Poppy the Labrador is a seizure alert dog who is trained to warn her owner Shannon when a seizure is imminent. A video has recently gone viral of Poppy helping Shannon during her seizure. Poppy licks Shannon’s mouth excessively for the duration of the seizure to help her come around quicker and to remove excess saliva to stop Shannon from choking. Well done Poppy!


Bretagne the 9/11 search & rescue dog celebrates her 16th birthday

Back in September, former search and rescue dog Bretagne (pronounced “Brittany”) celebrated her sixteenth birthday. Bretagne is the last known surviving search & rescue dog who worked at Ground Zero after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001.

The city of New York came together to create a day-long celebration for this heroic dog. You can view a video of Bretagne’s fun-filled birthday below:


PTSD therapy dog Raven wins “Hero Pet Award”

When online voting for the “Hero Pet Award” opened, the organizers of the event in Chesteron, Indiana were astounded to receive votes from as far away as Florida and Alaska. The local “Celebration of Wildlife” event organizers had chosen several finalists for the award, but it was ultimately Raven the PTSD therapy dog that was crowned the winner.

Raven is owned by David Horton, a former combat medic in the U.S Army. David was medically discharged from the army several years ago due to the effects of PTSD. Raven helps him by body blocking to create distance between David and crowds/strangers and by providing Deep Pressure Therapy.

Raven is also trained to dial 911 in an emergency, to open doors and to search a room or building and alert David if she finds another person in there. This is used to overcome paranoid and hyper-vigilance. You can find out more about Raven here.

Autism dog saves family from fire

Morgan Winfree will be forever grateful to her autism service dog Cam after he saved their family from a house fire. Cam woke up Morgan’s mother Susan in the early hours of the morning by jumping on top of her and barking, as he is trained to do in an emergency.

Susan followed Cam to the porch of the house, where she saw that it was on fire. Cam’s warning allowed the whole family to escape the house unhurt. Read the full story here.

Viral video shows service dog helping in an Asperger’s meltdown

Over 7 million people around the world have watched a video showing a service dog called Samson helping his owner to overcome a meltdown since it was uploaded to YouTube a few months ago.

Danielle Jacobs has Asperger’s and has trained Samson to respond to depressive episodes and self-harm. Whilst she is having a meltdown, her dog helps to calm her. This is particularly important for Danielle as she tends to have panic attacks after meltdowns. Samson uses his paws to prevent Danielle from self-harm and then affectionately nuzzles her whilst she holds him.


Social stars: Meet the dogs taking the internet by storm

When you think of cute animals and the internet, you would probably automatically think of the cat videos that are popular with almost everyone or well-known felines such as “Grumpy Cat”. However, there are also a collection of dogs that are taking the internet by storm.

Here are some of our favourites:

‘Boo’ the Pomeranian

Boo is frequently referred to as “the cutest dog on the internet”. With over 17 million likes on Facebook, he is one of the most popular too. His owner has surprisingly managed to remain anonymous and is not pictured anywhere with Boo, adding to his mystique. He is described on his website as a “Pomeranian who’s energetic and loves attention”.

Image source

‘Marnie’ the Shih Tzu

Marnie was rescued by animal control in Connecticut in 2012. She was nearly 10 years old and vets discovered that she used to have an illness called Vestibular Syndrome which left her with a head tilt. She was adopted and has become a YouTube star, with videos posted regularly of her enjoying her new life as a much loved pet. Marnie has over 100,000 followers on Twitter, 1.7 million followers on Instagram, 370,000 Likes on Facebook, and 26,000 subscribers on YouTube.

 ‘Tuna’ the Chiweenie

Tuna is a Chihuahua/dachshund mix, also known as a Chiweenie. He was adopted in 2011 by a lady named Courtney Dasher, who shared photos of him on an Instagram account. Tuna’s overbite and lower jaw dysfunction give him a unique look which has led to him getting 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

Image source

‘Mishka’ the Husky

A video of Mishka the husky appearing to say “I love you” has been watched almost 100 MILLION times on YouTube. The video went viral earlier in 2015, with many national news websites picking up the story. There’s even a Mishka app available for Android phones!

‘Beast’ the Puli

Beast is famous because of his owner, Mark Zuckerberg, the man who created Facebook. Beast has over 2 million followers on Facebook. His breed type is a Puli, which is a type of Hungarian Sheepdog.

Image source

How these dogs are helping others

It is wonderful to see rescue dogs like Marnie and Tuna bringing happiness to so many people across the world. They help to raise awareness of rescue dogs and help people realize that they can get just as much love and affection from an older dog as a puppy.

Other famous dogs such as Beast bring attention to rarer dog breeds that people might not have heard of before, which stops them from becoming endangered.

Many of the dogs above have licensed merchandise available, with a percentage of the profits going to dog rescues and animal charities.

So, not only do they bring joy to people seeing their photos or videos, but they are changing the lives of thousands of dogs for the better.

How to introduce a second dog into your home

Getting a new dog is a very exciting moment for you and your family. However, it can be tricky to introduce a second dog into your home. You never know exactly how your first dog is going to react – are they going to be welcoming, nervous, jealous, or territorial?

If you take the introductions slowly and follow the tips below, the dogs will have a great chance of coming to terms with each other in a positive way, bonding together as members of the new family pack.

Bring your current dog to meet the new dog beforehand

If possible, let the two dogs meet before you commit to purchasing or adopting the second dog. This might not be possible for new puppies, but should be fine if you are looking at getting an older dog or a rescue dog.

Sometimes, dogs just don’t get along and dislike each other upon sight. Unfortunately, that should be taken as a sign that perhaps this new dog is not the one for you. If your dog isn’t happy with meeting them on neutral territory, chances are they definitely won’t like them moving in to their territory.

Don’t force them together

When you bring the new dog home, they might keep their distance from your existing dog for a while. From the new dog’s perspective, they have just entered a new environment, which may be frightening for them. They might need a little while to adjust and “find their feet”. If they are being cautious around your first dog, don’t “force” them together – allow the new dog to build up his confidence slowly and take things at his own pace. Likewise, don’t be alarmed if they choose to sleep in different places or in different rooms. They’ll learn to come together in time.

Have lots of treats and toys available

To encourage the dogs to play together and to play with you, try introducing some new toys and treats for the first couple of days. Your first dog might not take kindly to a new dog playing with his much loved or favourite toys, so it might be best to remove anything that they usually get possessive over until they are used to the new dog. New toys mean that neither dog already has a “claim” to them, so they are more likely to share from the offset.

Monitor playtime to ensure friendly behaviour

The dogs will be trying to work out which one will be the “leader” of their new pack. This might turn aggressive or territorial, so make sure you monitor them when they are playing to ensure it all stays friendly. If you notice either dog curl their lip, raise their hackles, stand their tail up, or show other signs of negative body language, separate the dogs until they have calmed down. If one dog is being too rough with the other, even in happy/enthusiastic play, distract them and calm them down. The dogs need to learn an appropriate level of play with each other, especially if one is much younger or larger than the other.

Don’t ignore your first dog

It is very easy to overly fuss over the new dog – after all, it’s exciting that you have them and you will be looking forward to getting to know them. However, to avoid jealousy, don’t overlook the first dog. If you give the new dog a treat, give the other one something too. Groom the dogs one after the other. Play with them equally and give them both the same level of fussing.

5 ways to build trust with your dog

Getting a new dog is an exciting time in anyone’s life, but also a slightly apprehensive one. It’s important that the dog looks up to you as his master and learns to trust you – but how do you achieve this?

Below are five ways in which you can build trust with your dog. Bear in mind that trust is a two-way street – you need to trust your dog too.

Obedience training

Obedience training is one of the first ways that you can build trust with your dog. It is an important learning curve for both you and your dog, particularly if you have a puppy or perhaps a rescue dog with no prior training. Teaching your dog basic skills such as walking beside you on the leash without pulling, sitting on command, and how to play fetch will allow a bond of understanding to pass between you. The dog will be calmer and more content knowing how to behave in a way that pleases you and they will strive to do so in order to make you happy.

For a recently acquired dog, obedience training helps you and the dog to become more accustomed to each other as you spend time working together in close proximity. As you get to know each other, you will both start to trust each other more.

Experience the world together

Allowing your dog to experience different situations than what they are used to is a fantastic way to build trust. Try to take them out to places that they haven’t been before, where they will encounter things that might be a bit strange to them. Examples include parks, bar gardens, car trips, public transport, rivers, beaches, and on holiday with you.

You will need a certain level of trust and obedience from your dog before it is appropriate to bring them to a strange environment. You need to feel confident that the dog won’t become overwhelmed, which may cause them to be frightened, bark excessively, or show signs of aggression (usually through fear).

In a new environment, it is your job to provide reassurance to your dog that they are safe. This will help you to build a deep level of trust, as the dog understands that these new sights and smells won’t hurt him. Be calm and patient, particularly if your dog seems unsure of something. For example, if they don’t like water, they might not want to cross a stream or go paddling in the sea, but after some encouragement and watching you perform the activity and enjoy it, they may be tempted to join in. If your dog really doesn’t want to interact with something, don’t force it. You can always come back and try again another day.

Avoid forceful punishment

If you want your dog to trust you, they need to see you as their master, but also as someone who they are safe to be around. If you regularly shout at your dog or physically abuse them (smacking, kicking, yanking the leash) if they misbehave, they will start to associate you with pain and misery rather than love and trust. This can cause irreparable damage to the relationship that you have with your dog and can lead to the dog showing signs of aggression or fear. Instead, use rewards based training to maintain positive reinforcement when the dog does something “good” and issue clear, firm (but not angry) verbal cues if they do something wrong.

Agility training

Agility training gives the dog mental and physical stimulation that can be an enjoyable experience for both the dog and owner. Try to find a local agility training centre in your area or a park that has dog agility equipment available for hire.

At first, your dog will probably be afraid of the equipment, especially things like tunnels (too dark!) or ramps (too high!). Gradually encourage the dog to sniff at and walk on the equipment, one piece at a time. If they really don’t want to do something – don’t force them. Move on to the next task.

It can help to hold a treat out in front of the dog’s nose to “guide” them along a particular piece of equipment. Chances are, they will be so focused on the food that they don’t notice they are walking over a tall ramp, going over a jump, or weaving through a line of poles.

After a few attempts with the treat, you should be able to just hold your hand in front of the dog and they will follow you. Be sure to give them a big fuss and positive reinforcement if they complete an activity without the use of a treat.

Eventually the dog will trust you enough that they will complete the course without the need to follow your hand at all – just a quick wave or point in the desired direction should be enough.

Remember not to work your dog too hard though, especially in the beginning. Agility training needs to be fun and enjoyable for the dog. If they get too tired or start to get distracted, give them a break or go home for the day.

Groom your dog regularly

Grooming is a very close and personal experience that can really enhance the bond that you share with your dog. It means that the dog gets one-on-one attention from you, where you are showing them constant attention. Try grooming your dog for 30 minutes every evening before bed or when you get back from a walk. Show affection to them while you are doing it by rubbing their tummy, scratching behind their ears, and petting them.

If you have a dog that doesn’t particularly like being groomed, be patient and calm with them – don’t shout at them if they are wriggling and trying to get away from you. Instead, use this as a training exercise and gradually build up the length of time of grooming sessions, starting at just a couple of minutes. The more the dog learns that grooming isn’t something to be afraid of and is actually quite enjoyable, the more they will learn to trust you for giving them the positive experience.

What is the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities”. Examples of service dogs are guide dogs for people who are blind or have serious visual impairments, dogs that can pull a wheelchair, and seizure alert dogs.

In contrast, the responsibility of therapy dogs is to provide psychological or physiological therapy to people other than their handlers. Their handlers are usually their owners. Examples of therapy dogs are those that are brought in to hospitals or nursing homes to cheer up the patients, as well as dogs that are brought in to schools or used to help people overcome a fear of dogs.

Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are encouraged to socialize with other people and animals, and to interact with them frequently. Unlike service dogs, which are trained to always be alert and receptive to their owner’s needs, therapy dogs are only expected to carry out their responsibilities when they are “on-duty”. Most of their time is spent as a “normal” pet dog in a home environment.

Service Dogs

Service dogs are classed as working animals and not pets. The tasks that they are trained to do must be directly related to their owner’s disability. If a dog’s purpose is solely to provide comfort or emotional support then they do not qualify as a service dog under the ADA. They may still be known as an “assistance animal” or “therapy dog”.

Unlike therapy dogs, service dogs are allowed anywhere that a person can go. This includes public transport, stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, and the workplace. You do not have to provide identification cards or proof of service dog status; anyone who asks you to do so in order to enter their premises is contravening the ADA.

The only time that a person with a disability can be asked to remove their service dog from the premises is if the dog is out of control and the handler does not control it or if the dog is not housebroken.

Service dogs begin their training at a very young age, normally around 8 – 12 weeks. They usually spend the first couple of years of their life in training, before going to live with their family where they can begin their duty of caring for their handler.

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs can come in all shapes and sizes. Instead of having to be trained from an early puppy, the training can begin later in life. If you are looking become a therapy dog handler, a dog that is already part of the family as a pet can be trained to become a therapy dog. This can be beneficial to their success, as the dog and person will have already developed a strong loving bond prior to the beginning of training

The transformation that therapy training can bring to a dog can be mind-blowing. There is a Dog Whisperer in the UK who rescued an aggressive, untrained bull mastiff from an abusive situation and after two years has trained him to become a registered Pets At Therapy (PAT) dog. This huge loveable dog goes to nursing homes and community centres visiting the residents. He is perfectly calm and well behaved – an immeasurable difference from the dog he was when he was rescued.

How can my dog become a therapy dog?

You will need to get in touch with a reputable therapy dog organization or animal-assisted therapy organization in your state. They will carry out an evaluation of your dog to determine if they are suitable for therapy dog training. If so, the organization should help you enroll in the appropriate training courses.


Links included in article

Dogs and their jobs: 12 canine professions

Dogs aren’t just a wonderful and loving family pet. They are also used across different services and professions to bring help to those in need. Here are twelve different jobs that a dog could have:

Service dogs

A service dog has been trained to perform tasks to aid someone with a disability. Examples include guide dogs, diabetic alert dogs, and epilepsy/seizure alert dogs.

Therapy dogs

Therapy dogs provide psychological or physiological therapy to people, usually those other than their handlers. Examples include dogs that visit patients in hospitals to raise their morale levels or those that visit nursing homes and retirement homes.

Police dogs

A police dog has been specially trained to assist the police and law enforcement officers in their duties. There are several types of police dog. For example, there are dogs that help with crowd control, drug sniffer dogs, evidence sniffer dogs, and search dogs. The most common breed used for a police dog is the German Shepherd.

Firehouse dogs

Many years ago, when horse drawn carriages were used by firefighters to get to the scene of a fire, Dalmatians used to run alongside the horses to defend them from other animals that might try to attack them or distract them. This meant that the firefighters arrived at the blaze sooner. Nowadays, this practice is discontinued. Some fire stations still have a resident Dalmatian as a mascot; however they usually do not have any set duties.

Search and Rescue dogs

Search and rescue dogs can detect human scent from a long ways away, meaning that they can help to locate missing people. They are often used in search efforts when somebody has been reported missing, especially in the wilderness or vast countryside. Bloodhounds, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds are among some of the breeds often used for search and rescue dogs.

War/Army dogs

Army dogs are used in the military to help with a number of key activities including counter insurgency operations, detecting explosive devices, assisting with the searching of people/buildings/vehicles/locations and enhancing a soldier’s sense of security.

Farm dogs

Dogs are used by farmers to assist them in many ways. One of the most common is for herding sheep, cattle, and other livestock. Border Collies are often used due to their natural herding instincts and their ability to learn new skills and techniques quickly.

Sled dogs

Sled dogs are still used in remote parts of the world as the primary method of transport, both for people and goods. In places like Alaska and Antarctica, where the heavy snow and remote locations make it impossible for man-made transport, sled dogs such as Huskies and Malamutes are an essential part of everyday living.

Guard dogs/Watch dogs

Dogs have been used throughout history as protectors for their owner’s family, home, and business. It is often the larger breeds of dog that are used for this as they are more effective at warding off unwanted intruders. Popular guard dog breeds include Bullmastiffs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Racing dogs

Greyhounds and Lurchers are the two breeds that are traditionally used for track racing. Similar to horse racing, the dogs race around a circular track to see which one is the fastest. Instead of being ridden (what a sight that would be!), they chase a fake rabbit around the track.

Show dogs

While it may appear that show dogs have things easy, being pampered all day and treated to top notch grooming, it’s actually much harder than it looks. Show dogs undergo extensive training to ensure they perform well in the ring.

Entertainer dogs

Some dogs are specifically trained to provide entertainment to people. Whether that’s in a show on TV or in a film, these dogs go through a vigorous training process to enable them to perform “tricks” for our amusement. Examples of films where the dog is the star of the show include Beethoven, Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, and Marley and Me.


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How to find the perfect dog that fits your lifestyle

Choosing a dog can be a stressful process. There are so many different breeds available that it can be difficult to know what dog will fit in well with your lifestyle.

Here are some suggestions for breeds that might be suitable. However, you should always do thorough research into a particular breed before making a commitment to a dog.

“I’m an active person who loves the outdoors and spends lots of time walking.”

If you lead an active life then a high-energy dog such as a Collie, Dalmatian, or Spaniel may be suitable. These are larger dogs that require lots of walking and activity to tire them out. If you are looking for something smaller, Jack Russell Terriers also love to walk.

“I’m an elderly person looking for a companion dog.”

Smaller “toy” breeds such as Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers are usually lovely companion dogs that will be happy to potter about your house for most of the day and spend lots of time having cuddles on your lap. They ideally still need to be walked every day, but a short stroll around the block should be plenty.

Rather than purchasing a puppy, which will require lots of training and probably have more energy than you would want, have a look around your local rescue center (or on their website) to see if they have any smaller dogs. Quite often rescue centers have older dogs that would be suited to a quiet lifestyle.

“I have young children and want a suitable family dog.”

Bringing a dog into your home when you have young children can be a nervous time. There are some breeds which are better suited to life with young children than others. These include Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Bulldogs, and Newfoundlands.

Typically, larger dogs are best suited to young children as the child cannot pick them up (which could alarm or injure the dog). Larger dogs are typically less likely to “snap” at tiny fingers if they are frustrated, scared or annoyed.

“We’ve never had a dog before.”

You need to seriously think about the level of commitment you feel you are ready to give. If you are not familiar with living with and owning dogs, a new puppy might be a bit too much, unless you are fully committed to giving it the training and socialization that it needs.

It would be a good idea to visit your local rescue and find a dog that is a few years old and already has all of his basic training, to help ease you gently into the wonderful life of owning a dog.

“I have a house with a small garden.”

A small garden doesn’t necessarily have to limit the type of dog that is suitable for you. If you are willing to take the dog on several walks a day, then this should provide enough exercise to compensate for having a small garden that a larger dog can’t really run around in.

However, a small garden could mean that a small dog would be most suitable. Papillon, Shih Tzus, Maltese, Corgis, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Dachshunds, Pugs – the list of small dogs is endless.

“I want a dog I can teach lots of tricks.”

There are certain breeds that are considered more intelligent than others, such as Collies, Poodles and German Shepherds. However, if you are patient enough and repeat the actions enough times, any dog can be susceptible to learning tricks. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is not true. Just be prepared to spend lots of time with your dog and give them lots of encouragement along the way.

“I don’t want to have to toilet train a puppy.”

Toilet training can be frustrating, especially with very young puppies. Getting an older dog from a rescue center can reduce this training. However, you should anticipate having to do at least a small level of toilet training for any new dog you bring in to the house, as they need to learn where your garden is, and where they are “allowed” to “go”, which can take a little bit of time.

“I’m at work all day so the dog will be left on his own.”

Some full time workers employ dog walkers who come in during the day to take their dog out for a long walk. This helps to break up the period of loneliness for the dog. Alternatively, “doggie day care” could be an option. Note that many day cares will not accept unneutered dogs.

If neither of these are an option for you, you might want to reconsider getting a dog. It isn’t fair to leave any dog alone all day, every day. If you are desperate to have a doggie relationship in your life, consider volunteering for your local dog rescue in the evenings or weekends – that way you can still enjoy wonderful walks and engagement with dogs, without having the commitment of owning one.

So, what dog should I get?

Ultimately, the decision of what breed of dog is suitable for you and your family comes down to your specific circumstances. You alone know what level of exercise and commitment you can give to a dog, and what size dog would suit your home environment.

Whether that’s a puppy or an adult dog, a Chihuahua or a Rottweiler, we wish you all the best in the search for your perfect canine companion!

The cost of owning a dog

Owning a dog is expensive. It’s as simple as that. When you purchase or adopt a dog, you are promising to take care of him for the rest of his life. Dogs live on average for 13 years – that’s a long time to commit yourself to caring for an animal.

Before getting a dog, it’s important to work out your finances and plan how much you are likely to spend on the dog on a monthly and yearly basis. There are probably more things to consider than you imagine. Here is a list of one-off costs, annual costs, and other general costs that you should be prepared for.

One-off costs

It is a high probability that the most expensive year of your dog’s life will be his first. This is because of the (usually) high price of purchasing the dog. If you adopt a dog from a shelter then this will be a lower amount.

For service dogs, such as those offered by Canines for Change, the initial purchase of the dog is in the region of $12,000. This takes into account the intensive training that the dog has undergone to ensure he is well-suited for his life as a service dog.

One-off costs include:

  • Purchasing/adopting the dog
  • Neutering/spaying
  • Securing your garden (e.g. suitable fencing to prevent escape)
  • Microchipping

Annual cost of a dog

There are many things that you will need to purchase on a regular basis for your dog. This could be something that you need to buy regularly, such as food, as well as items that you might only need to get once or twice a year, such as collars and food bowls.

Some of items you will need to purchase every year are as follows:

  • Food
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Routine veterinary checks
  • Vaccinations
  • Worming
  • Heartworm testing and protection (if appropriate)
  • Flea/tick protection
  • Collars/leashes/halters
  • Food/water bowls
  • Grooming equipment – brushes, shampoo, towels
  • Waste disposal equipment/bags
  • Dog license
  • Miscellaneous expenses

The actual amount you will spend varies based on individual elements such as the size of the dog you have, their medical needs, the type of food you give them and the number of treats/toys you spoil them with.

However, we estimate the average cost of owning dog at around $500 – $3,000 per year.

Other costs

The above figure doesn’t take in to account the other occasional costs that you will incur as a dog owner:

  • Trips to the groomers (especially for long-haired breeds)
  • Stain and odor removers
  • Boarding / dog sitters / kennels
  • Dog walkers
  • Professional teeth cleaning
  • Training classes
  • Socialization classes
  • Toilet training pads
  • Insurance
  • Veterinary costs (can run into the $1000’s)
  • Medication
  • Professional carpet cleaning
  • Replacement beds/blankets/towels
  • Identification tag for collar
  • Replacing anything that gets chewed up/damaged by the dog
  • Crate/kennel
  • Dental care
  • Car restraint

Most dog owners will require everything in the above list at least once in their dog’s life – usually several times.

Emergency veterinary treatment can easily cost thousands of dollars; therefore it is a good idea to look into pet insurance in case the worst ever happens. Make sure you read the agreement carefully as some insurers won’t cover certain procedures. If your dog has an underlying health problem then you may find it difficult to get insurance.

Can I afford a dog?

Only you can answer that question. Take the items listed above and try to work out the exact costs based on your location and the type of food/treats/etc. you expect to purchase. Remember that as your dog grows from a puppy to a full grown adult, they will require more food so this bill will increase.

Add in a contingency every month for those “spur of the moment” purchases (for example when you walk past a pet store and get tempted to buy a new toy) as well as unexpected bills such as vet trips and medication.

If you cannot honestly say that you can afford a dog, and would be prepared to take care of any emergencies that arise, then our advice would be to wait until your situation changes before getting a dog. After all, you don’t want to be faced with a situation where it’s either paying the rent or paying the vet’s bills.

A dog truly does become one of the family and owning one can be the best decision you’ve ever made. However making sure you are in a suitable financial state makes the experience much less stressful and will enhance your enjoyment of living with man’s best friend.