How To Know If Owning A Dog Is The Right Decision For You To Make In Your Present Situation
Dogs are wonderful companions. They are eager to please, non-judgemental, loving, and loyal. They are also time consuming, demanding, expensive, occasionally annoying and even destructive. Dogs have the same basic needs as children, good food, training, medical care, toys, a safe place to play, a comfortable bed, supervision, exercise, companionship and unconditional love. The main difference between children and dogs is that most children grow up, get a job, and move away to start a life of their own. Dogs never do. From the time they enter your life, until the day they die, they are your responsibility. Before taking a dog into your home, you must understand the responsibility you are assuming and decide if you are up to the challenge. If not, you should never own a dog.
It is vital that everyone in the household is in favor of owning a dog. If you are single, decide that any change in this status will not affect your obligation and dedication to this animal. Remember that the adults in the family will be responsible for the training, care, and welfare of the dog. Children, much as they may love their pets, are not going to totally care for them. They may have some part in the care, but children have school as well as other interests and obligations that preclude them from being ideal candidates for caregivers. Because of their own immaturity, children are ill suited to train a dog adequately.
Are you in a position to assume the financial responsibility of owning a dog? Dogs require an annual physical checkup and inoculations. They require good quality food, a good collar and leash, safe solid toys, a comfortable bed and bedding, and a fenced yard in which to play. Many breeds of dogs need regular grooming and all need tick, flea, and heart worm medication. Food must be of good quality or the dog will become ill, which will increase your vet bills. Bedding must be kept clean and fresh and toys will need to be replaced periodically. Puppies need to be spayed or neutered as all responsible dog owners know.
If your dog becomes ill or injured, vet bills can be astronomical. You must be prepared for such emergencies. In one year, two of my dogs needed surgery. They were young healthy dogs but genetic defects required correction. The bill for the surgery was over five thousand dollars, and this did not include follow-up visits, medications, etc. Pet owners must be willing and able to meet such costs.
If you go away for a holiday, and cannot take your dog with you, or if you become ill, you may have to pay for kennel care. Secure well-run kennels may cost from twenty-five dollars per day and upwards for each dog, depending on the area in which you live. It is wise to investigate kennels in your area before you need them. Kennels also require any dogs they take to have their kennel cough inoculation.
In addition to the financial obligations of being a dog owner, you are also responsible for the day to day care. Most dogs are now fed twice daily and need a constant supply of clean fresh water.
Dogs need adequate exercise. They must be walked twice daily for at least twenty minutes each time. Larger and more active breeds may need walks of up to an hour. Dogs also need to be played with both to keep them from becoming bored and to create a bond with their owners. Leaving a dog alone in the yard to entertain and exercise itself is both inadequate and harmful. Dogs left alone develop unpleasant habits such as digging and incessant barking. They may also be stolen or become injured if a gate is inadvertently left open. Every year, In extremely cold weather, several dogs left outside have been frozen to death.
Your dog needs an adequately sized fenced area in which to play. This is where you can both begin training as well as play with your dog. After a good invigorating play session, let your dog sniff around while you do yard work. At this time you will still be supervising but also letting your dog just be a dog. Dogs are social animals and, given the choice, prefer to be with their family at all times. Only small dogs are suitable for apartment life.
Training for a dog is as important as training for a child. An untrained dog, as an untrained child, is something less than a joy to have around. Dogs need to come when they are called, walk calmly on a leash, not jump, sit on command, and rest quietly when told so you can enjoy your meals, and company, in peace. Ideally your should take a set of beginners lessons which will create a strong bond between you and your pet as you learn together. Training a dog requires time, and a great deal of patience. Every day you must calmly and consistently reinforce what the dog has learned. Dog training must be done with love. Anger, violent jerking, shouting, choke chains, water balloons, and punishment have no place in dog training. Reputable trainers do not employ these tactics and neither should you.
You dog needs to be socialized around other dogs and other people. That can be achieved partly during training classes. Your dog should be happy to play with other dogs, but not go wild at the sight of one. You will also need to go for lots of walks in parks and playgrounds where you meet other dogs and other people. Find a doggy playground and use with caution.
If you decide to adopt a dog, give your choice a lot of thought. Be especially careful if the dog will be around babies or small children. Consider the space you have to offer an animal. Dogs come in all sizes, temperaments, coats, and special needs. Talk to breeders and trainers. Conscientious ones will be more than willing to give you advice and help you make the right choice. Remember the SPCA and other animal shelters. They have a wonderful assortment of loving animals eagerly waiting for a good home. Remember that when you take an animal into your home, you must do so because you love animals and that no matter what comes, you will take care of this animal until the last day of their life.
If you decide that, even though you love dogs, you cannot keep one, you can still donate your time and some of your dollars to taking care of them. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. Donate your old towels and blankets. Donate dog food or dog toys. Walk dogs, maybe even foster some. Your life will be richer for it.
Please, if you ever see, or hear of, an animal being abused or neglected, report this immediately to the A.S.P.C.A.