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Would I Be A Suitable Dog Owner

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Should I Get A Dog
Photo:  owner and dog

Deciding to get a Dog
Getting a pet dog is a big decision and should not be taken lightly.  It can never be a case of trial and error, once the decision has been made it is a commitment for the whole of the dogs life, which could be up to 15 years in many instances.  Dog ownership can be extremely gratifying, but it's also a big responsibility as the dog will rely on you for everything from food, water, shelter, leadership, exercise, grooming, training, veterinary care, companionship and protection.  Giving a dog a good home takes a lot of time, money and commitment  There are many factors that you need to look into before you decide on whether or not you should get a dog.

Make a responsible choice and be honest with yourself about how much grooming, training and exercise you are able to and really want to take on. Learn about the behaviour and personality, appearance and size, grooming and exercise needs, as well as the health of the breeds you are considering.  Don’t choose a dog on appearance alone; choose a dog that will fit well into your lifestyle.

Things to consider before getting a dog

  • Do I have the time to be a responsible dog owner?
    If you can not spend a minimum of thirty minutes twice a day dedicated to your dog you probably do not have time in your lifestyle to own a dog.  Most dogs and all puppies need a lot more time.

    If you need to go out for more than a couple of hours a day you should definiately not get a puppy and an adult dog should not be left alone for more than 4 hours as they can become very insecure and anxious when their owners leave them not to mention bored which can lead to all kinds of problems.  If you are out working all day and it means the dog will be alone, you must consider arranging for someone to either take the dog out or spend some time with it.  This could be a family member or a prefessional dog walker.

    Most dogs should have a minimum of 2 walks a day – the length of which depends on the energy levels of your dog breed and how much time you spend on training and with your dog at other times during the day.  The minimum walk time should be about ½ hour.  (Puppies should only be walked 20 minutes each time until their joints are formed.)

    Whilst you will likely spend time training when exercising and walking your dog, when getting a puppy, you need to be able to dedicate a lot more time to basic training, like house training and the first basic commands.   If you get a young dog it is your responsiblity to train him - it's a sad fact that one of the biggest killers of dogs under 2 years old is euthanasia.  This is mainly due to behaviourial problems that lead to people putting their dogs into rescue centers as they are not able to cope with disruptive and or bad behaviour.

    If you have an older dog that is already house-trained and knows all the basic commands, he will still need mental stimulation and training.  So you need to be sure you reinforce everything he has learnt and teach him a new trick or new word which you should practise at least twice a day until he knows it.
  • Can I afford a dog?
    Having a dog for life can work out to be expensive. Insurance, healthcare,  vet bills, training classes, grooming, food, toys, treats, boarding, and other expenses soon mount up. Prior to making your decision to get a dog, you should work out  what the average monthly cost is likely to be and be sure you can afford it, even if there is a change in your circumstances.
  • Does everyone in the household want a dog?
    Whilst you may be the primary carer for your dog, everyone else that lives in your household should be enthusiastic and in agreement about getting a dog.  If they are not then having the dog will envitably lead to disagreements and eventually may result in the dog being returned or placed into a rescue home.
  • What breed of dog would suit me, my family and/or my lifestyle?
    You need to carefully analyse your lifestyle and choose the dog breed that is best suited for you, your family and your home.  Once you have a breed in mind research any traits they have by reading books and articles, there are so many different breeds each having different needs.