Do your research: The type of dog you get will determine the lifestyle it needs to live a happy life. *iStock photo
Do your research: The type of dog you get will determine the lifestyle it needs to live a happy life. *iStock photo

Owning a dog can be very rewarding — they can be wonderful pets and the bond that is developed is very special.  

However, dog ownership is a major commitment and comes with very important responsibilities.

If you are considering buying a new puppy, there’s a lot to consider: what is the best breed for me, my family and my lifestyle? Can I afford to purchase and care for a dog; and do I have the time necessary to properly care for a dog? 

The American Kennel Club (akc.org) as well as the Kennel Club in the UK (thekennelclub.org) offer education, experience and advice on puppy buying, dog health, dog training and dog breeding. 

It is also advised that you visit the website of or contact the Bermuda Government Veterinary Services & Animal Control (Enforcement) Sections of the Department of Environmental Protection, especially if you are planning to import a dog. The SPCA can also offer guidance on caring for a dog.

Here are two things to consider before deciding to get a dog.

1. Can you care for a dog?

Remember, the dog’s well-being is your major consideration and he is dependent on you for his food, shelter, safety, care and companionship. You must be able to provide for all of his needs. 

Ask yourself — will you be able provide the appropriate environment — good shelter, area to run and play and a comfortable place to sleep? If your dog gets injured or sick, will you be able to afford the best possible medical attention and care? 

Do you have time to be a good companion to your dog and to ensure that he gets to socialize with other compatible dogs?

Your dog will need a healthy diet, exercise, annual vaccinations, annual licensing, veterinary care, good shelter, bathing, grooming, micro-chipping, possibly spaying or neutering, housetraining, regular training, treats, toys, pet sitting, maybe boarding, planned activities, supervision, companionship, socialization and lots of love and attention. 

These are just some of the essentials he will need. Can you commit to this and can you financially afford it?

2. Do Your Research

Buying a dog is like buying anything else; do your research (in this case, do a ton of research) first and find out everything you can about the breed that you want; the breed characteristics and personality, the lifestyle it needs and the care associated. 

Especially if you are a first-time dog owner, take the time to find out which breeds best suit first-time owners. Get guidance from your prospective vet and talk to experienced dog owners.

Deciding on a breed should be based on more than just how it looks; consider their needs as well as your own.  

If you do not have a fenced-in yard or if you do not like to exercise, it is not a good idea to purchase a dog that requires space and exercise. Is your dog going to be high maintenance? 

Once you have decided on the breed you want, take the time to research and make sure that the dog you select comes from a good, well-respected breeder. 

Get a referral and references and ask lots of questions. A good, responsible breeder will gladly answer all of the questions you have. 

Discuss with the breeder your needs — whether you are looking for a dog that you wish to show and breed or whether you are only looking for a pet as personal companionship, as there is a difference. 

This information is not designed to dissuade you from getting a dog but to provide information to help you decide if you are ready for a dog and to help you make the right decision, one based on lots of research and understanding and not solely an emotional one.

At Consumer Affairs, we offer guidance to consumers, businesses and other organizations. If we receive a complaint and believe that a violation of the law has occurred, we present the complaint to the business and request its assistance in resolving the problem. 

Before you contact us we recommend that you first visit our web-site, www.ca.gov.bm and read the relevant advice. If you are unable to find the information you require on our web-site please e-mail us at consumers@gov.bm.

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.