Getting a dog is an addition to the family; it has needs as any other family member does. Recently, while at dinner with a friend, we discussed the 10 most common reason to consider before obtaining a dog. This is dedicated to Mika, who spent 16.5 years as part of Kimberlea’s life. Kimberlea took Mika’s needs and well being into consideration every day. Dogs feel emotion, and while not as complicated and complex as those of humans, we truly believe they feel emotions to a degree that can affect their behavior. Living in a happy, welcoming home is the key to having a well behaved dog.
Why do you want a dog? If it is because you saw a beautiful, cute or cool dog, it may not be a good reason. Protection? Not really. Status symbol? Buy a designer piece of equipment. It should be for companionship and enjoyment. Consider from where you are getting your dog- the adoption option does not contribute to the puppy mills. Do not buy from Kijiji!.
- If you are single, will it be this way forever? If you have a new partner in your life who does not want a dog, what will you do? This might limit your choice of partners, and although for us this is a no brainer, it may not be for you who got the dog for companionship, and now have an opportunity for human companionship (I don’t know why you would prefer this)
- If you are not single, and you have a family, is EVERYONE on board? Every member of the family should desire the dog as much as the others. Everyone should agree on the breed. Different breeds have different characters so spend some time researching or visit with various breeds. Offer to take care of a friends dog for a couple of weeks while they travel to get a feel for the dog family life. You may find it to be a big eye opener. Book an appointment with the vet you are going to use- they usually have great insight into appropriate breeds depending on your lifestyle, activity level. Their technicians will be happy to advise you as well.
- In the beginning (this is where the new born comparison kicks in) I hope you like getting up in the middle of the night because little “Buddy” needs to go pee and can’t use paper or wee-wee pads forever, “Buddy” needs to learn to go outside. Babies wear diapers…dogs don’t (well, not usually!). Be ready for this. If you aren’t willing to do this, then a cat or another type of pet is more suitable. I hear there are a lot of pythons now looking for homes!
- I hope you like walking (and running!). Just having a backyard is really not enough for most dogs. Dogs need to walk and run and they rarely do it on their own alone in the back yard. Find your local community dog run and socialize your dog while exercising it.
- Money, yes, they cost money. Dog food can be expensive especially if you are wise enough to feed them good food. Are you willing to spend $1,2 or 3 per day? And those vets! Wow, they can get very expensive but just like humans, dogs need doctors. Keeping your dog healthy and taking a preventative approach can save a lot of money in the long run. Spay /neuter your animal please! Consider insurance if a 2-3k bill scares you.
- Do you travel, frequently? This is a big consideration, dog kennels are expensive and good ones are hard to come by. Not all dog owners just want their dogs caged for 1, 2 weeks so finding a kennel that offers a little more is a challenge and costly.
- Training. You need to train your dog! Wild dogs are trained by the pack, they get nipped and growled at when they misbehave and put in their place. You need to do the same but you don’t have to nip or growl. Training a dog does not come naturally to all so get the help and advice of professionals.
- Dogs are messy! They shed; they track mud into the house and drip on rainy days. Prepare to have a place for them to get cleaned up or dry off (save your old bath towels, they come in very handy). Please remember, they need to go outside no matter the weather – rain or chill, minus thirty or plus thirty.
- You have to move and dogs are not allowed. Are you willing to commit to ensuring you find a proper home for your dog? The SPCA is full, full of people’s dogs and pets.It seems to be used in as a dumping ground with a “it’s not my problem anymore” attitude. You are committing to 12, 13 + years to caring for the dog. Have a back-up plan if you need to let go of your pet.
Not all people are dog people; never feel pressured to get a dog. Often times children convince parents to get a dog, promising to care for it, exercise it. But in the long run, the adult is responsible. We could never live without dogs, but some should.