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November 03, 2014

A Paws-itive Investment: Financial Planning for Your First Adopted Pooch (Part II)

Financial Suggestions For Keeping Pets

Just HOW much is that doggie in the window? Well, if you read Part 1, the numbers are already adding up! Last month we covered some of the more typical costs, like food, adoption fees, and veterinary care. But in this day and age, it’s a dog’s life – with all sorts of luxury services being catered to the fabulously four-legged!

Training

The training needs of a dog can vary based on the breed and individual temperament of the animal. A Puppy Kindergarten class covers the basics if you get a dog that is less than five months old. However, an older dog, (one that needs to “unlearn” bad habits or has some anxiety or aggression issues), requires a more in-depth and ongoing training program. Angie’s List states that its members reported paying an average of $448 for dog training. It also cites information from the American Kennel Club, which advises new dog owners to prepare to spend $340 for initial training and $254 annually for ongoing training.

Vacations – Yours AND Your Canine’s!

When you’re planning your vacation, factor in your dog’s vacation pet sitting or boarding fees. Will you board your pet in a kennel or hire someone to watch him in your own home? Both come with a price tag. Kennels are often the less expensive choice, usually under $30 per night, but having someone in your home means they can also take care of collecting mail and watering plants – something you might have to pay someone to do anyway.

For dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, allowing them to stay in their own home could ease the panic a bit. Expect to pay anywhere from $30-$75 a night for this service, depending on where you live, and whether the pet sitter is bonded/insured and a member of a professional organization like Pet Sitters International (which is highly recommended for their extensive background checks and pet safety certifications). If the pet sitter only does overnights, like 8pm – 8am, then you’ll probably need a walking service during the day as well. It adds up quickly and might mean the difference between taking a 2-week vacation to travel Europe or spending a long weekend at the beach.

Of course, including your dog in your vacation is always an option. In fact, more and more hotel chains are catering to the pet-owner community, including Loews, Kimpton, and Hyatt; each offer special “welcome” amenities for their furry residents! You can also search vacation rental websites such as VRBO and HomeAway for properties that will allow pets.

Canine Cconcierge

If you think dog walkers are just there for walking, think again! Full-service pet concierge companies can be found across the country, and not just in big cities. Walks (private or group) are available on demand, but so are a myriad other things – doggie massage and acupuncture, medication administration, pet taxi services, even wedding attendant services if you want your fur child to take part in your ceremony! This wide range of services can begin around $10 for a one-way pet taxi ride(The Pet Concierge, Los Angeles) to $300 for a one-hour, in-home session with a pet psychic (Pet Perceptions, Houston).

Where to Start:

Online

Websites like Mint.com, and even Microsoft Online, have budgeting tools and templates so you can lay out your monthly/yearly expenses and experiment with adding your dog’s items.

To give you an idea of expenses for a specific breed, hit the forums. PetGuide.com has breed-specific forums— literally from A-Z – for dogs— and also birds, cats, fish, horses, rats, AND turtles!

Hit Up Your Social “Petwork”

Take advantage of Facebook and Twitter to survey your friends on the financials of fur children, and read reviews and testimonials on service providers’ pages! Ask your friends to share a story behind the largest expense they’ve incurred related to being a dog owner.

Become a Foster Home

In addition to a financial commitment, dogs require your time, energy, and lots of patience. And if you’re lucky, they will require these things for 15+ years! If you’re still not sure if a pet is in your permanent picture, consider fostering. Animal rescue organizations rely on foster homes, temporary homes for pets, while they work to find the animal an adoptive family. Usually the animal’s veterinary—and sometimes food—costs are covered. You can evaluate fostering opportunities through your local animal shelter or consider fostering a pet for a deployed service member by visiting PetsForPatriots.org or DogsOnDeployment.com. There might even be tax deductions available for fostering. However, you’ll want to consult with your CPA or tax professional for your specific situation.

Animal rescue organizations are in dire need of foster homes and can be a perfect solution for someone who wants the companionship of a dog but needs to work within a flexible and temporary timetable! While fostering poses challenges in itself, especially if the dog has special needs, the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks!

 

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