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Are You Ready For A New Dog?
A dog is not a toy. Nor is it a cat. You can't just toss him some food once in awhile and trust him to look after himself. A dog is full time job, for some breeds. In many cases it requires sacrifice, just like it does with a baby. Be sure you're the kind of person who is happily willing to do this. If not, you might want to invest in a pair of goldfish instead.
Some things to consider:
Different breeds require different amounts of exercise.
Some toy breeds are fine spending most of the day in your home. Bigger dogs need more space. For some breeds, walking isn't enough and they need to be able to run. And since running off-leash can be dangerous, I’d recommend high energy breeds (Border Collies, Weimaraners etc) only to people who have a closed-in yard. Otherwise, I hope you’re prepared to go running with your pooch, cos anything else is just unfair and unkind.
One or two walks a day are necessary.
I'd say at least a 1.5 hour walk, if you only do it once. If Fido's still bouncing off the walls afterward, you should either add a second daily walk or increase the length of the first by 30-45 min. (If you live in a big city and take your dog around the block a few times a day to potty – those walks don’t count for exercise!) Note: Dogs that go wild in the house while the owner is away, tend to be highly under exercised. Exercise your dog and see how fast those behaviors start to correct themselves.
Another Note: Dog Parks are a bad idea for exercise. They are only as safe as the most dangerous dog in attendance. I’ll explain this in a future article.
Can you keep your house cool?
If you live in an area where the temperature gets warm, even if just in the summer, your dog is going to feel it. If you don't have A/C, you need to make sure you have windows that can be open the whole time you're gone - and you need to make sure that airflow will be adequate. One window might not be enough. If you don't A/C and your windows don't have screens and are set low, this would be a bad home for a dog for obvious reasons. If you can't open your windows because you're afraid of burglars, this would also be bad home for a dog.
Do you own a cat or other small mammals?
Dogs and cats can live together, but you're going to have to train Fido carefully. You don't want him thinking Garfield is a toy, and you don't want him thinking you prefer the cat over him, which could lead to him being aggressive toward your kitty.
Do you already own another dog?
If you’re adding a dog to a family that already has one, you need to be aware of the potential risk for aggression, whether it be immediately, or 6 months down the road when your puppy is nearly mature. You don’t want to be referee for two dogs, I promise.
Do you have children?
If you’re adding a dog to a family with small children, be aware that even the most loving dog can snap at an unattended toddler who keeps running a toy truck into Fido’s rear end. Also, be aware a dog may become excited and innocently jump on a child during play, which can lead to injury.
Are you willing to show Fido you love him?
All dogs need love and affection, which includes petting and grooming. This is not a cat, your dog will want to be with you as much as possible and you need to be accepting of that. Turning your dog away will bring you a depressed animal, which would be very unkind.
Dogs cost money.
Make sure you can afford it. For a list of things you should be prepared to shell out for, click here.
An adult dog should never be left alone for more than 12 hours.
And even that is really too much, as far as I’m concerned. Can you imagine not being allowed to go potty for that long? 9 hours is really the max I would expect of my dog – so if you have a job that requires you be gone 16 hours at a time, you will either need a reliable person who can let your dog out to potty, or you need to reconsider getting a dog. Note: Your dog should always be given the chance to go potty before you leave them inside. Make sure he has at least 20 min to do his business.
Another note: If your dog has just consumed a large amount of water after play or walking, don’t expect him to hold that for 12 hours. That’s absurd. Even if he goes potty right afterward, that water he just drank still needs to pass through his system. He’s going to need to go at least an hour later, and maybe an hour after that. Keep that in mind and never put your dog in that situation unless you will be home to let him potty. If you do, you can only blame yourself when he can no longer hold it.
There are many other things to consider before buying a dog, but these are the major ones. Please make sure you have time for a dog before you bring one home.