Buy a dog in haste and there’s no greater buyer’s remorse. As time goes by, you discover that the cute dog’s personality doesn’t mix so well with your family. You begin to resent taking the dog for walks or rushing home between appointments so the new dog is not left alone too long. Read on if you are wondering should I get a dog?
It’s like having a child that you didn’t plan. Those little puppy accidents, chewed furniture, nightly barking and other normal dog behaviors become more and more irritating when you are starting to think that you have made the wrong decision. That’s the point where some insensitive dog owners just take their, now unwanted, dog to the nearest animal shelter.
Sadly, many of the dogs in shelters are there because they were the impulse buy of a family or an adult who failed to consider what dog ownership involves. The owner chooses based on adorable puppy features without learning about the dog’s full-grown size or its breed characteristics.
In a matter of months, the conflict begins. Many dogs in shelters are actually good dogs with great potential as pets if they go home with the right family. The dog’s only “crime” was being chosen by people who were not prepared to include them into their family.
Should I Get a Dog?
Dogs are very popular, in fact they are one of the most popular pets in the world. You probably know many people who have a dog. Like me, you probably follow many dogs on twitter and watch their lives from afar. If you think you want a dog, you’re following a well-established tradition that goes back many years. How many portraits of British nobility have dogs included in the family scene.
There are a number of reasons people think a dog would make a good pet. The most popular one is that a dog will be a loyal friend for many years and a great companion. Some think it would be nice to have a dog to guard the house, and some people think it would be fun participating in dog shows, agility trials or other organized activities with their canine buddy. Some people get them to push them towards fitness while many older people get a dog for companionship.
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, you must determine if you can care for him properly prior to bringing him into your home. Dogs need many things from their pet parent so you need to decide if you can provide them:
To have a healthy dog, you will need to feed him correctly, exercise him sufficiently (and an hour a day will not be enough), groom him regularly and take him to the vet for regular visits (which he will hate). Your dog should be well-mannered and a pleasure to be around, so you will have to make sure he is thoroughly socialized and trained, which requires spending many hours with him, some of them quite stressful. Dogs need set schedules so they know when they’ll be fed and when they’ll be let out so you need to stick to a fairly rigid timetable. If you’re a busy person working long hours and travelling a fair amount, dog ownership may not be for you.
Things to Consider Before You Buy a Dog
Owning a dog is a very rewarding experience, but before you start thinking about what kind of dog you want, ask yourself if your current lifestyle will suit any dog. You will not find it easy to change your lifestyle to suit a dog so will a dog suit your lifestyle?
Don’t fall in love with a cute puppy at a pet store, breeder or dog shelter then bring it home only to face a brutal truth. That cute puppy you just brought into your home must be taken out to relieve himself first thing in the morning. Every single morning. Even weekend mornings. For the rest of his life. Even if it’s raining or snowing. Even if you over indulged the previous night. And he’ll have to do this more than once a day, sometimes several times, especially when he’s young.
That’s just the start of the lifestyle changes you can look forward to. Here are some other things you must consider before plunging into dog ownership.
What Do You Want in a Dog?
There are many reasons to want a dog. If there is more than 1 person in the house you may even want a dog for different reasons.
Do you want a good companion? Do you want a fit dog who can go with you when you run? Would you like to take your dog on camping trips? Do you want a dog as a guard dog? Do you want to show the dog? Or participate in agility, obedience or field trials?
You first need to find out what all the family members want in their ideal dog. Then it’s time for research. You need to study the different breeds to find out what characteristics will best fit your expectations. You may need to remove some people’s expectations if the dog can’t possibly fulfill all the criteria!
Do you Have Young Children?
Children love puppies, but children and puppies need constant supervision. You may be unhappy with the thought of children playing too rough with a young puppy, and not understanding that the puppy is tired and needs to rest. A puppy who is hurt or tired of playing is likely to growl and snap, and then escalate to a bite, if they want to be left alone. An older dog may not be used to children. Babies and toddlers should NEVER be unsupervised with a dog, no matter how much you trust the dog.
Do you Have Other Pets?
If you already have pets, you need to consider if they will adjust to each other. Cats that have never been around a dog, may need a long period of adjustment or may never adjust at all.
Do You Have enough Secure Space for a Dog?
This is an important consideration even if you plan on walking your dog regularly. An active dog needs their own space for daily play however much you walk them. Some dogs can happily live in an apartment with regular exercise. If you have a garden, it will need to be fully contained. However happy your dog is at home, if they can escape, they will. The grass is definitely greener over there!
Can You Afford a Dog?
You will vastly under estimate how much a dog costs. Dogs cost a lot of money if you love them and treat them as a much loved family member. You can’t get a dog with the mindset that you will skimp on them. You won’t!
Your dog needs to be fed. Good quality dog food can be expensive. Your dog may be a fussy eater (like mine) and you will try many types of food. Your dog needs treats. These can be bought or home made. Either way there is a cost and again good quality costs more. I love my dog and want her to live a long and happy live so I buy good quality. Yes I could buy cheaper but I no more want to stuff rubbish in her than I do in myself.
Dogs need toys. Especially to stop them being bored when they could do damage that costs much more than the toys. Dogs destroy toys, lose them (or it’s my bad throwing) so you will always be buying toys. Again, you get what you pay for. It depends on the type of dog too, as too what toys they need. Very intelligent dogs need interactive toys whereas some types are happy with just a ball.
Then there are costs for grooming, training classes, doggie day care or walks where you are away, boarding if you are away overnight without them, coats for inclement weather. The list goes on. However, the big expense is vets bills.
The Dreaded Vets
Your dog will need regular veterinary checkups, including vaccinations, worming and flea and tick prevention. All are essential and you can’t manage without them. A medical emergency can cost a lot of money. As your dog ages, he may develop chronic health conditions that require regular visits to the vet. I had a cat with thyroid problems who needed daily tablets and these were expensive. You will also definitely want to consider insurance. Personally, I always have pet insurance but again it is a cost you will need to consider.
Even if you bathe your dog regularly (good luck with that!) and brush them you will need to pay for a professional groomer to cut their hair! My dog has a strange coat being a mix of Bedlington and Patterdale so cutting her hair is not something I could ever consider doing myself. You will also need brushes and combs for maintenance plus shampoo.
Exercise and Play – Make Sure You Have Time
Some dogs need only a walk once or twice a day, while others are built to run and play all day. Be honest when considering what level of regular exercise you will be comfortable with. If you work long hours, walking the dog in the early morning and late evening may be a burden rather than a pleasure. An active dog who only gets proper exercise on weekends and holidays will be unhappy, bored and possibly destructive. All that energy has to go somewhere. As well as exercise, your dog needs quality time with you. Not just sitting watching TV together but training, play and fun.
Size and Energy Level of the Dog
If you are considering a young, highly energetic dog, such as a golden retriever, ask yourself if you are strong enough to control and exercise a dog that will want to run and play and that could easily knock you down by accident. When I was younger I broke my arm when I weimeraner jumped up at me. They are still one of my favourite dogs though! Don’t buy a cute little puppy that will turn into a 150-pound athlete if your energy level is more attuned to a stroll with a handbag dog.
Do you Have a Stable Lifestyle?
Dogs are often given up to animal shelters because their owner had to move, and the new house is not suitable for pets. Or the owner has married, and the new spouse doesn’t like dogs. Are you likely to move frequently? Is your family life stable? Does your job require you to travel often or for long periods of time? Whilst we can’t anticipate all of the changes that life will throw at us, we do know if there is a likelihood that we will move or marry.
Should you Get a Puppy or Older Dog?
Most people think about puppies when thinking about getting a dog. Puppies are definitely cute and fun, but there are some benefits to getting an older dog. It’s easier to housetrain an older dog and often they are housetrained anyway. You will not have to wait for an older dog to grow up to see what size he will be or what kind of temperament he will have, and if you get your dog from an animal shelter or a rescue organization, you will probably be saving his life. I had my dog when she was five months old and I was her third home. Not through her fault but through her owners change of circumstances.
If you have read this article and you still want a dog, congratulations!
Don’t just rush out and pick up a dog. You need to take the time to research as much as you can about selecting, introducing and keeping a dog. Browse through the other articles on our web site for further information. Find some interesting and informative books or online articles.
If you carefully chose your new canine friend and you are properly prepared for having him in your life then bringing him home will be a joyful experience. He will become an integral part of your family and will love you without reservation. Return this love, and he will really be your best friend.