This is the second article in the series about educating yourself about DOG OWNERSHIP
Part 2.1 – What Do I Need to Consider?
Question #1: Is the ‘timing’ right?
One reason many dogs end up neglected and abandoned is that their owners took on the responsibility at the wrong time. If your living situation is unstable, it is best to put off getting a dog until you have the resources and secure environment necessary to care for him properly.
No matter how badly you want a dog in your life, do not give in to temptation or impatience, and don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll “make it work somehow.” You cannot use dog ownership as the rescue mechanism for another of your life’s problems.
Dogs need food, walks and loving attention on a regular and daily basis. It is neither fair nor humane to deny a dog proper vaccinations simply because you can’t afford them. Nor is it fair to force a big, active dog into a tiny apartment. And lastly you definitely cannot use your dog as a “kicking board”, either physically or mentally, to take out your life’s frustrations on.
Caring for any pet is a commitment, so make sure it is the right time and place for both you.
Question #2: Can I afford it?
Caring for a pet properly costs more than you think. Spaying or neutering, vaccinations and lifelong vet visits need to be factored in along with nutritious food. Once again, the breed type is a serious consideration here.
Most breeds, and even cross-breeds (now known as “designer dogs” so they can be sold at a higher price), are an expensive, very expensive investment. The less costly option is to adopt a rescue dog …. THIS IS REALLY WORTH CONSIDERING …. REALLY!
But if you think the initial investment in your pooch was expensive, just wait till you hand over the MasterCard at your first Vet visit.
With some breeds, you DEFINITELY WILL NOT get away with just a few or no visits to the vet during its lifetime.
Some breeds are prone to genetic problems, some to breathing problems, some to skin problems …. the list goes on. On the other hand, there are some more “natural” breeds that can live a very long healthy life with few problems and fewer visits to the vet if they are looked after correctly.
Many people wrongly assume that if they can just cover the basic care-taking costs upfront, they’ll be set.
Maybe their pooch will be OK its whole life with just the odd check-up. This assumption is based on the shaky premise that their dog will not have some hidden health issue crop up, or encounter some kind of injury outdoors, or harbor some genetic condition.
Some of today’s favorite breeds are deliberately bred to enhance serious genetic faults; just to acquire that breed “look” that you have fallen in love with. Did you know that some breeds can’t even mate naturally; they have to be artificially inseminated and then …. they are born by Caesarean.
Can you afford to provide the best care for your dog in the event of an emergency?
Having just been given the information above, think carefully about this and answer honestly. You’ll save yourself some potentially serious heartbreak.
There’s nothing worse than having to ‘put down’ a young pet that your family has grown to love simply because you couldn’t afford their health care. (And last time I looked at the vet bills that friend of mine paid after his dog was involved in a relatively minor traffic accident I was absolutely taken aback! The costs rival or exceed human health care).
Question #3: Dependency needs.
Dogs are like babies that never grow up. If you have children, you know they eventually use the restroom on their own, make their own snacks and actively communicate with you when they need something.
Dogs, however, can’t do this. They DON’T reach that stage of development.
They can’t open their food and pour it into the bowl. They can’t open the door when you’re not home if they need to go outside.
(Well some can but most can’t)
Think twice about getting a dog if you are easily frustrated by creatures being dependent on you 24/7 for their well-being. If you really love dogs; then this is something you will think of as an honor (to repay their total devotion) rather than a chore.
Also, be especially cautious if your children or your spouse are the ones wanting a dog.
They may insist that they will do their share of the care taking, but what if they don’t? There are so many distractions when it comes to giving this responsibility to a child, that it is just an absolute NO NO if you aren’t prepared to step in after the “new plaything” syndrome wears out.
Question #4: Do I want a dog because I’m bored?
Dogs can add much to your life when you find your match, and when the timing is right. However, buying a dog out of boredom is a sure recipe for disaster. What will you do when the novelty wears off? Will you still be willing to care for your dog and offer him a generous share of your time and attention for the next 8 to 18 years?
To have a REAL relationship with your dog it has to be your companion ….. for its life. If you give it your attention its knowledge of how you want it to behave will grow and you will be compatible. But if you think owning a dog is chucking a bowl of food out into the backyard and making sure it has water then all you will have is a poor creature starving for affection and doing the most crazy, stupid things to get it. Instead of you having an Ah Ha moment (when you realize that your four legged buddy is as intelligent as a small child), you will look out the back door and think that you picked the most stupid breed of all, (and it will be no fault of your poor pouch).
So please move on to Part 3 “CAN YOUR CURRENT LIVING SITUATION ACCOMMODATE A DOG?” for an “in-depth” overview of the lifestyle changes you need to consider when you have the company of a dog added to your family.