Is a dog right for you?
Maybe, maybe not. Just because you would like to own a dog doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
There are many people who would love to own a dog but don’t for a variety of reasons. They may work long hours or they may travel a lot. They may not be in a financial situation that allows for the expenses of a dog or they may live in an environment that isn’t conducive to having a dog around. They may be afraid of dogs or just may prefer a different type of pet.
Unfortunately, too many people don’t consider these types of things before they get a dog.
Let’s explore what you should be asking yourself before you make the commitment to get a dog. And a big commitment it is.
Once you get a dog it’s going to play a large role in your life for the next 10-15 years, or even longer for some breeds.
If you are thinking of getting a dog, think about 5 years from now, 10 years from now and longer. Are you prepared to accept the responsibility for this dog’s health and well-being for that long of a time period? Remember, this new friend will be totally dependent on you for food, exercise, vet care and a safe environment, as well as love and companionship.
Some people get a dog just because they think it would be good for their kids.
If you are an adult thinking about getting a dog for the kids, what about 5 years down the road? Or 10 years? Children’s priorities change as they age. They go away to college, they get involved in different activities and they find themselves getting boyfriends and girlfriends which changes the amount of time they have to take care of a dog. As a parent, if you get a dog for your kids, are you prepared to take over increasing amounts of responsibility as the dog and your children age? Are you prepared for the financial responsibility that goes with dog ownership?
Should kids have a dog?
Under the right circumstances, absolutely! A dog can become a real best friend and teach your children responsibility and unconditional love.
But this is a decision that the parents need to consider carefully.
Is your child mature enough to properly take care of the dog?
Will you be available to closely supervise and train the dog as well as train your child how to properly interact and care for his new friend?
Are you willing to take on full responsibility for the dog if needed?
Do you have any other pets, like a cat?
Many dogs and cats learn to live together and become friends, or at least tolerate each other. Keep in mind, some dogs and cats never get along. Generally, however, if the dog you bring in is a puppy, it will become friends with the cat. It is a consideration, however, if you bring in an adult dog.
Are you an experienced dog owner or will this be your first one?
If this is the first time you will ever own a dog, there will be some surprises.
Yes, they will likely have some accidents in the house until they are house trained to go outside. It will take time and effort on your part to train your dog to do this.
They may jump all over guests that come to your house.
They may chew on rugs and furniture.
They may bark or even howl, especially certain breeds like bassetts, beagles and huskies.
They may not be friendly to your guests or to other dogs.
They will get sick and need vet care, especially as they get older.
They can suffer from broken bones, pulled muscles and tendons, get skin ailments, infections and all the same injuries that happen to people from time to time.
Do you travel a lot? Who will care for your dog?
Who will exercise your dog? This is often one of the bigger problems of dog ownership. Too many people just don’t have the time or willingness to exercise their dog. Many people think that because they have a big house or yard that they won’t need to give their dog exercise. This is just wrong.
Dogs get bored easily. After some time they will have explored all the areas of your yard and lose interest in it. They love to explore new places and find new smells. If you will not be able to provide a lot of exercise do not get a big dog. A small breed still needs exercise but will adapt better to a smaller environment.
If you are going to get a dog consider your family situation and environment.
Do you have a fenced yard? Many quality breeders will not sell a dog to someone without a fenced yard. It increases the chances of them getting away, getting lost or hit by a car and getting the proper exercise.
Dogs can be good pets for those without fences, but it will need to be walked every day, multiple times per day if you have a bigger or more energetic breed.
Dogs are wonderful pets but there are 6-8 million dogs in shelters as of 2011. Many of those end up in shelters because people get a dog without realizing everything involved in dog ownership. After they do realize what’s involved too many of these dogs end up on the street, in a rescue facility or just given away to the first person who will take it and who may or may not provide good care.
This article is intended to make sure you understand the commitment and responsibility required to own a dog, not discourage you from getting one. We own several and can’t imagine life without them. Most of the pitfalls can be avoided by proper training and making sure to get the kind of dog that fits your family and your situation. All dogs should be crate trained. It helps with house breaking, gives the dog a safe “den” to take some time away from young children or when you have company. A dog that is in his crate, when you can’t be watching him, can’t chew things up! Eventually, he will get past the destructive age with your help. A well-trained dog is a joy and can be taught not to jump on guests and to obey your commands. There is an old saying amongst “dog people”. If you want to know the value of a well-trained dog, try buying one from someone who has put in the time to thoroughly train their dog. The general answer is “no amount of money”.
Choosing wisely in the first place is critical. If you or a family member has allergies or you just wouldn’t have the time to comb the dog every day, get a non shedding breed, like an airedale, poodle or the Portuguese Water Dog. There are several non shedding breeds. If you aren’t going to have time to take long walks, get a small dog. Toy breeds tend to be fragile and are not typically a good choice for homes with very small children. Put the time and effort into researching breeds and deciding what would best suit your household.
After you have considered all the factors involved in dog ownership and still decide to get one, consider rescuing a dog from a shelter. These can make wonderful pets and you will doing a good service. That being said, there are good reasons to get a purebred
If you put in the time to choose the dog that is right for your family and commit to training and proper care, you will be rewarded with loyalty, companionship, lots of fun moments and unconditional love for many years.
By Terry and Debbie Vaught
Terry and Debbie are the owners of Part of the Family Kennels. This is a pet boarding kennel and grooming business serving the Tampa, FL area. We have extensive experience in pet care, breeding and showing dogs. If you are going to be in the Tampa area and need a kennel or grooming service please contact us.