They can eat into your time and money and test your patience, but loving your dog keeps you happy. If you're thinking about getting a dog, have a read through our list of things to consider first.
1. Can you put in the time?
Dogs bring with them many benefits, but you need to be able to put in the time to really get the most from your pet. Dogs can get distressed if left alone for too long, and require regular walks, but aside from this they need plenty of play time.
If you can't commit to daily interaction with your dog, perhaps consider less demanding pets such as fish, hamsters or guinea pigs.
2. Can you afford the cost?
Make sure you can afford the costs associated with keeping dogs. Not just food, leads, collars and toys, but also veterinary fees and pet insurance. It can be an expensive hobby.
3. Is your home dog-friendly?
A small flat without outdoor space may not be quite right for larger dogs, but you can usually get around most issues with a bit of clever thinking. Access to parks and large open spaces could be the answer to your dog's needs, but do consider the size of your home and how happy pets will be living there.
Also think about proximity to neighbours, who could become annoyed if your dog howls for you when you're at work.
4. Do you go on holiday frequently?
If you do, consider a dog that can travel with you, or that will be happy boarding at kennels in your absence or staying with friends. The best thing about a pet is the bond you have with your animal, so make sure your lifestyle doesn't impact on this relationship.
5. Do you suffer from allergies?
Double check which breeds are most likely to trigger allergies or asthma in anyone living in your house. Spend some time with friends and their dogs to see whether you react badly to fur or dander.
6. Have you thought about the commitment required?
Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. Although you can't be sure what might be around the corner, it's important to enter into dog ownership giving it the full thought required, taking into consideration how your life might change in the future.