Last summer, like millions of Americans, I brought home a seven-pound ball of fluff. Over the past year my mini Goldendoodle has turned into 23 pounds of sheer joy.
Almost 1 in 5 households has bought a dog or a cat since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent ASPCA survey. That’s roughly 23 million American households.
And the majority of these pet owners have no plans to move their pets in anytime soon – contrary to rumor that people are returning pandemic puppies. That means our furry friends will be with us as we tackle the challenges (and financial obligations) of getting back to work and resuming daily routines.
Here’s what you should know in order to afford a pandemic puppy – a year later.
JUMP INTO A ROUTINE
“Dog ownership is a journey,” said Brandi Hunter, vice president of public relations and communications for the American Kennel Club. “Last year people got a different version of the trip. If you either bought or rescued a puppy – or an adult dog – during the pandemic, you have a dog that has for the most part got used to being home. “
If you know you will be going back to the office in September, you should adapt your four-legged companion to a new routine in August, recommended Hunter.
Start with practice runs. It can be so easy that you leave the house for a few minutes so your dog can get used to being apart from you, said Nicole Ellis, certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert at Rover, a pet supplies market .
You can also enlist help to keep your dog occupied and looked after while you are away. Pet sitters can check on your dog and refill them with food and water. Dog day care offers interaction with other dogs. Dog walkers give your dog exercise.
TAKE A BUDGET
But adding expenses like dog walkers and pet sitters to your financial equation can be costly. (After all, you can expect to pay anywhere from $ 15 to $ 45 per walk depending on where you live.)
Make arrangements that fit your budget. For example, it may be cheaper to hire a dog walker to walk more than one dog at a time than a solo walk. Bringing your dog to daycare three days a week is less expensive than five days.
Hunter also says to look around for dog daycare, much like any service for people. You may be able to find a lower fare if you’re ready to drive to a location outside of your immediate area.
Rover and Wag are two examples of platforms that connect dog owners with dog walkers, boarders, sitters, and more. Some even provide pictures and videos of your dog so you can see what’s going on throughout the day.
USE YOUR EXPENDITURE
If you wade aside into the world, you have probably realized by the last year that dogs are an investment.
For my part, I’ve placed more online orders for treats and toys than I can count.
“Pet owners can spend anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars in the first year of owning a new pet,” Christa Chadwick, vice president of Shelter Services at ASPCA, said in an email.
So I also asked the experts how to save money on all kinds of dog utensils. Reducing costs in one or more of these areas can help offset the new expenses you will soon face.
– TOYS. If your tough chewer (like mine!) Searches toys like candy, Hunter said you could give him bones instead. Bones are meant to be chewed and last longer than plush toys. Another option? Mental stimulation games. Place a treat on a puzzle to keep your pup occupied longer.
– TRAINING. Professional dog training can vary in price, so Ellis recommends watching YouTube videos for trick training techniques that you can use at home.
– TREATMENTS. Check back on the internet for home dog treat recipes. Ellis said you can mix dry food with treats to keep supplies longer and get your dog excited about training.
– DELIVERIES. “Make friends in your ward,” Ellis said. Sites like Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace can make it easier to exchange offers. You could get equipment from people who want to give away things their dogs have outgrown.
– INSURANCE. “If the cost of an emergency vet visit or serious illness would be a financial burden, consider investing in pet health insurance while your pet is healthy or put money in a separate account specifically for those expenses save, ”said Chadwick.
– EVERYTHING ELSE. Consider the cost of pets tied to human life events, advised Chadwick. For example, if you travel to hotels (for cleaning fees) or move into some apartments (for pet deposit fees), plan a budget well in advance of bringing your dog.