Owning a Dog – Are You Ready?

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Are you thinking about owning a dog? While many people would not consider their homes complete without a dog, dog ownership is a big responsibility, and you need to make sure you are ready for it. Take a look at the following five statements. If any are true for you, re-examine your reasons for wanting a dog and your ability to properly care for one.

1. You’re always busy with work and don’t have much downtime.

Your new dog or puppy needs to spend a lot of time with you to bond and properly acclimate to new surroundings. You can’t just pick out a puppy, bring it home, play with it for a while, and then forget it. You need to spend quality time with your new family member. This means lots of playtime (especially for puppies), two or more walks outside every day, and obedience training.

If you don’t spend time with your pet, you’re asking for trouble. Often, neglected pets act out by behaving destructively. Furthermore, dogs who are alone too much will not be properly socialized and may become unduly fearful of strangers and other animals. This fear may cause a dog to become aggressively defensive towards people and animals. If you are too busy to spend quality time with a pet, then wait until your life is a little less hectic before owning a dog.

2. You live on a strict budget and can barely afford to pay all of your bills every month.

Dogs are never really free, even if you are given one as a gift.

First, you have to pay for a good quality dog food. Food for a large breed can cost over $100 a month.

Second, you need to provide your dog with routine medical care like spaying, annual vaccinations and exams, and dental care. You also have to be prepared to pay for emergency medical services.

Third, depending on the breed of dog, you may need to have it professionally groomed. Even if you groom the dog yourself, you have to pay for the grooming supplies.

Fourth, you need to be able to afford miscellaneous items such as dog dishes, toys, and other goodies. If you can’t afford to take care of your dog in an appropriate way, then you may want to put your plans for owning a dog on hold until you are in a better financial position.

3. You only want a dog for protection purposes.

A dog, even one specially trained to guard your home, is more than just a security device. Dogs are living creatures who deserve to be loved by the people who have them. Guard dogs need consistent and caring interaction with their owners. Otherwise, those same qualities that make the dogs great at guarding their territory (alertness, aggressiveness, and possessiveness) can turn them into “bad dogs.”

If you are not prepared to accept a dog as part of your family for the long haul and socialize it appropriately, then consider having a security system installed in your home instead.

4. Your kids need something to play with.

If your kids are bored and need something to entertain them, buy them more toys. Don’t buy your kids a dog unless they really want one and can see it as a living creature, instead of as a toy.

Also, certainly don’t buy your kids a dog unless you want one too. You may say that the dog belongs to the kids, but the adults in the household are ultimately responsible for the dog’s care, feeding, and medical expenses. Don’t bring a dog into your home unless both you and your kids understand that owning a dog makes him a part of your family for life.

5. You want a dog because you want to breed it and make lots of money.

First, successful and reputable dog breeders are in the business because they love the dogs they work with. Often, someone develops a breeding business only after years of having many dogs of a particular breed as pets. Good breeders have years of experience with the breed and know everything about traits, history, and physical characteristics. They also love to educate others about the breed.

Second, the bills associated with the feeding and care of dogs can far surpass any income, especially for the first few years. Buy a dog because you love the breed and cherish him as a part of your family. Maybe a business will come from it later.

In summary, owning a dog is a good idea only if you have the time, money, patience, and love to care properly for a new pet. Ready to own a dog? Take a look at The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting and Owning a Dog

Updated: July 6, 2013 — 5:52 pm

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