I’ve loved dogs all my life, but it took a very long time for me to get one. It is definitely not a decision to be taken lightly. Dogs are living, breathing members of our families, and with them comes responsibility. Many people want one, but owning a dog is not for everyone. They require attention, understanding, exercise, nutrition and hygiene. If you are unable or unwilling to provide these needs you should not get a dog.
A Dog Needs Attention and Understanding
When you adopt a furry family member you become his world. He will follow you, bond with you, and try to understand you. He will attempt to get your attention, and may do things that annoy you. A pup will not automatically know how to behave around you. You will need to teach him, which will require time, patience and understanding. If you have no intent to provide any training you should not get a dog.
Before adopting Abbey, I did some reading in order to better prepare myself. Reading a few books by no means makes me an expert. You need to add experience into the equation for that. However, educating yourself prior to owning a dog is a great way to better understand them. Do some reading and find out how dogs really work. If you fail to do this, you will constantly be asking questions such as:
- Why won’t my dog stop barking?
- Why do dogs eat grass?
- Does my dog have fleas?
- Can I give my dog Benadryl?
- Why does my dog lick me?
- Why does my dog smell?
- How old is my dog?
These are some of the questions many people ask. Educate yourself beforehand and you will have fewer questions later. No, you do not need to know every single detail about every breed, but you should learn enough to have an understanding about them. The final question about age is often misunderstood. However, learning how to calculate dog years is fairly easy.
Your relationship with your dog will be much better if you know what they need, and why they behave as they do. A dog will seek your attention often. If you cannot reciprocate you should not get a dog.
A Dog Needs Exercise
We need exercise everyday, and dogs are no different. In fact, they may need more exercise than we do. They are not the slumbering lazy bums we make them out to be. Yes, they need their rest, but sometimes they look lazy because they are restricted in what they can do. Most dogs would gladly go outside and play when weather permits. Abbey looks overjoyed when I come outside to play in the backyard. It ranks up there with going for a walk, or a car ride.
No, dogs are not lazy. They enjoy exercise for the fun of it. Have you ever seen a dog sprinting around in circles for fun? They were built to move, as are we. They desire to play and to chase. Many dogs need about 1 – 2 hours of exercise everyday. Find out how much exercise your dog needs, and provide opportunities. If you do not have the time or desire to keep a dog active you should not get a dog.
Dogs Need to Eat
Exercise and nutrition often go hand in hand. We need both, and cannot live well with only one. Before adopting a dog it is imperative to understand how much they need to eat. They need food everyday, and the cost of food adds up. Moreover, there are different kinds of food and the more expensive options are often better. Going for the cheap stuff is unwise.
Do you know how much dogs need to eat? Can you tell me what ingredients are in the food you will feed your dog? You must know the answers to these questions rather than guessing. Feeding him too much, or too many calories will lead to weight gain. Additionally, certain foods can lead to upset stomach, sickness, or lethargy. Dogs require a balanced diet and it will cost you. If you are not prepared to pay the costs you should not get a dog.
Dogs Need Help With Hygiene
We all know that dogs do not concern themselves with cleanliness. You cannot tell them to wash up, or wipe their feet and expect them to do so. You will be responsible for helping them with their hygiene. Once again, this requires time and money on your part. Some dogs will require a trim, while others will shed. However, each will require the following at some point:
- A bath
- Teeth cleaning
- Nail trimming
- Flea, tick, and/or heart worm prevention
Pups also enjoy rolling around in the mud. If you do not bathe her, she will stink and spread dirt around the house. Many dogs suffer from gum disease, which is probably very painful. If you do not clean his mouth his risk will be much greater. You are responsible for keeping up to date on shots and medications. These help keep him healthy, an eligible to play with his friends at day care and dog parks.
Some of these things you can take care of yourself, but the ones you cannot will cost you. You should also keep in mind unexpected medical costs may arise from time to time. Accidents happen and can lead to bills in the thousands. If you cannot afford to keep a dog clean and healthy you should not get a dog.
Getting a Dog is a Commitment
Getting a dog is not like getting a new toy, or hobby. You cannot just give him up once he becomes less convenient, or too much work. If you already have other animals in the house it might not work. Find out before you bring one home. If he is going to be home alone all day, everyday, it’s probably not a good idea. You and your four legged friend should be besties for life.
These are some of the main reasons you should not get a dog. Don’t make a dog pay for your mistakes.
Service dogs are a separate topic. They are heroes, and you can read why we believe so in our article about service dogs.
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