What You Need To Consider Before Getting A Dog
Dogs are indeed man’s best friend. They are loyal, devoted, fiercely protective and loving pets to their humans. But before you surprise your child with a puppy at Christmas or his birthday, there are a few things to think about.
You can’t just leave a dog in the house all day as you can a cat. Dogs need to be walked and taken out a few times a day to do their business. If you cannot commit to this requirement, maybe a lower-maintenance pet, such as a turtle, hamster or parakeet would better suit you.
Some dog breeds are highly active, such as Jack Russell terriers and Australian shepherds; while others, such as English bulldogs and Basset hounds, are couch potatoes. It’s crucial that you take time to do your research regarding the different breeds you’re interested in to determine the one that’s ideal for your family and living situation. Attend adoption events, talk to dog foster caregivers and local veterinarians to see if your favorite breed is truly right for you.
Depending on the breed, dogs can live as little as eight years to as many as 20 years. Understand this before you commit; surrendering an unwanted dog to a shelter might result in its death, as many shelters are overcrowded and too many people assume that shelter dogs will always be adopted. Not so.
If you’re never home and there’s no one to look after your dog, it’s a cruel situation for everyone involved. Dogs are sociable animals and thrive on physical contact and company. You are all they have to look forward to. Think about it. If you need to be away from home for long periods of time on a consistent basis, maybe opt for a pair of cats.
Indoor Versus Outdoor
If you choose to have your dog live outside, make sure of three things: the dog has protective shelter from the elements, an ongoing supply of fresh water and the breed’s ability to exist in outdoor climates. No dog should be left outside in extreme heat, cold, wind or rain without the ability to come inside. You wouldn’t leave your children outside that way, would you? Dogs do not sweat, so in hot weather, all they can do to cool down is pant, which is why they need water at all times. Some breeds, such as English bulldogs, French bulldogs and pugs, have impaired breathing and can die in the heat, even if it’s not extreme and water is available. These are strictly indoor breeds. Again, do your research before selecting indoor versus outdoor breeds.
Dogs can suffer accidents just as humans can, and their surgeries and vet visits can amount to the same as raising a child. The costs of having a dog can range from $500-$10,000 a year. Again, if you cannot afford a dog, don’t adopt one anyway. When you inevitably have to surrender it to a shelter, that dog will most likely be put to sleep.
Adopting a dog is not a decision to be taken lightly or made impulsively. If you truly would regard your dog as a member of the family, then you have the right attitude about pet ownership. If, however, you’re getting a dog because your child saw a cute puppy on TV or you have the idea that you can “trade it in” if the family doesn’t like it, it may be best to reconsider and choose a low maintenance pet instead.