Should you become a dog owner?

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What to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a dog: health and vet costs, how to travel with a pet at home, how to train a dog, physical and emotional needs of a dog, and how much time you need to spend with your pet.

Everyone wants to be loved unconditionally, have a play partner 24/7, and have someone warm to snuggle up on the couch with on cold, rainy days.  For many people, the perfect way to fulfill this need is with a dog.  They are cute, sweet, engaging, endearing and always happy to see you.

But, before you make a commitment like this, you really need to be honest with yourself in answering the following question:  Should I really become a dog owner?


The benefits are numerous; in fact, there is no way to place a finite number of the ways having a dog fills our lives.  But too many people fail to consider the other side of the coin when they decide to become a dog owner.  Having a pet is a commitment-a major one.  For the next 10-15 years of your life, you are going to have to put the needs of your pet before your own.  Are you ready to do that?

Vet bills are expensive, and to be a responsible pet owner, you have to have their shots done annually at a minimum.  Flea and tick medication is costly. Dogs are notorious for eating things they shouldn't causing them to become sick, and in some cases even have to have items surgically removed from their stomachs.

If you travel, or even work, you have to consider the well-being of your pet.  Every day. If you travel a lot for work, what are you going to do with the dog?  Kennel it? If so, do you think it’s fair to get a dog and leave it at a kennel all the time?  Would you want to be left at a kennel all the time?  If you work a lot of hours, who is going to let the pooch out to do his business or walk him, as the case may be?  

Up until they are a year old, nine hours is pushing it for most dogs.  Some dogs, when they are older, can hold it for 11 hours or so, but that's about it. Puppies have no bladder control at all until they are about five months old.  And even then, they cannot make it an entire workday.

Training a dog to be a good companion in your home is time consuming, and often frustrating.  You can hire the best dog trainer in the world, and it will not do you any good, because a hefty portion of dog training is actually training the owner, and actually spending time with the dog, building confidence in the relationship.

The number one thing a dog wants from you is YOU.  It doesn't want to stay in a kennel, or sit outside in a dog run all the time.  It wants to be with you all the time.  They get scared, mad, hurt and generally upset when their humans leave them, alone, or with anyone else.

Now, realistically, most people have jobs, and cannot be with their dogs constantly.  That is very true.  However, people who work 12 hour days, or multiple jobs, or go to school and work, really need to take a hard look at their time constraints, and be honest about how much time they really have to spend with their dog.

If you do not have answers to these questions, or feel confident you can devote the massive amount of time a dog needs to be happy, healthy and secure, do the right thing and don't get a dog.  Wait.  Odds are, one of two things will happen:  your life will eventually lead to a place that will allow you to be able to make the commitment, or something else will come into your life to fill that void that you wanted the dog for.

The bottom line is, before you get a dog, consider, honestly, your motivations, and whether or not your lifestyle really permits you to take care of a dog.  If it does not, then do the right thing and wait until your life has room in it for a dog.  Because the local animal shelters are full of pets who people got without being honest with themselves about whether or not they really should have a dog.

Believe it or not, you'll be doing that dog a favor by leaving it free to find a home where the owners honestly can provide for its physical and emotional needs.  And that's something to be proud of.