Should I get a Dog or
Should I get a dog or puppy?
Are You Ready For A Dog?
Everyone thinks their breed of dog or cross is the greatest. However,
what is best dog for one
may not be the best for yours. Before you run out and get a
dog, you must stop and look
at your lifestyle. Take a moment and read the following to
help you decide if a dog will
Are you prepared for a puppy or dog? Time Commitment.
How much time each day do you have to
devote to the dog?
Are you willing to commit to
the dog for the dog's life? What
if you have to move?
Puppies require far more work than
adults do. You must make
time for classes, training,
socializing, and activities. To get a
puppy or dog and then
leave him in a backyard with
no socialization or effort on your part
is cruel. Dogs are
social animals and do best when
part of the family. If you cannot
devote time to raising baby,
ensuring your dog is well
trained and socialized for the next
ten to fifteen years or
more, do not get one. Remember
that one series of obedience
classes does not a trained dog
make. Training and learning
lasts the life of the dog.
Human Medical Issues:
Are there any allergies or medical
conditions in your family
that could cause issues resulting
in having to get rid of the
dog? No breed of dog is truly
hypoallergenic. People with serious
problems may not be able to tolerate ANY breed.
If there are suspected
consult a doctor before considering a dog.
Cost: Can you afford a dog?
Getting the puppy or dog is not
the big expense. It is what
follows that can drain your wallet:
buying the crate and other
necessary supplies; puppy
inoculations every few weeks
while the puppy is young;
training classes (any where from
$30 to over $100 depending
on where you go); annual wellness
checks and inoculations; feeding (the bigger the dog
the bigger the food bill); medical
emergencies (can easily run
hundreds of dollars if not more).
I spent $100 to adopt a dog
and closer to $300 getting a
big enough crate, enrolling in
classes (yes, even instructors
take their dogs to classes), vet
checks, leash, collar, and
extra toys… The dog was the cheap
Can you properly house the dog? Being chained in
the back yard with a hut
and water is not proper housing. Dogs are social animals and
pets really should be part of
the family pack. If you cannot make a dog a family member,
keep him safely inside when
you are not home and let him have plenty of exercise in a
safely fenced area, reconsider.
It is cruel to a dog to leave him outside all the time. In
addition, these dogs are more
prone to become nuisance barkers and victims of "pranks" or
What is your lifestyle like? Are you an active
family that spends time hiking
and camping or going for long walks? Are you more sedentary?
Some breeds require a
lot of exercise daily – both physical and mental. The half
hour walk given to a Bulldog is
far from adequate for a Border Collie. A Bulldog will not be
able to handle the strenuous
hours of daily workouts a Border Collie requires. Research any
breed thoroughly before
getting – use several different sources as well. What one
person or even a vet says about a
breed may be erroneous. Look at books devoted to the breed;
many breed-specific dog
clubs have websites with plenty of information, etc. If you
are looking at a cross, research
the breeds you know are in the cross to give you an idea of
what you are getting.
Moreover, bear in mind that small does not equal less energy.
Some giant breeds have
lower activity level than many smaller breeds. Size is not
always relevant when it comes
to how much energy and exercise a dog requires.
What about grooming? All dogs need grooming –
even hairless breeds!
Some breeds are quite a bit for the average person to handle
and may require professional
work (Poodles and Bichon Frisés for example). Others require
only a few minutes of
going over with a brush once a week as well as regular
attention to teeth, ears and nails.
All dogs shed to some extent. Even supposed "no shed" breeds
will lose hair. Hair falls
out of follicles – look at your own brush or how often do you
pluck a strand off your
jacket. Some breeds shed less than others. If you are a neat
freak and cannot stand dust
bunnies, consider a lower shedding breed. Coat length does not
mean a breed will shed
more or less. A short-coated breed can shed just as much as a
medium to long coated one.
Need: Why do you want a dog?
in sports, protection?
Again, you must research the breed or cross in regards to what
you want. If you want a
dog that can be trained for duck hunting a Collie may not be
the right breed.
Experience: Are you an
experienced dog owner or is this your first one?
are not appropriate for a novice for one reason or another.
Many people see Border
Collies (Babe) and Jack Russell Terriers (Frasier, Wishbone)
and must have one. What
about those 101 Dalmatians? Obviously, these dogs must be
great if they are in
Hollywood! WRONG! What makes dogs excel in acting, Agility and
other things often
makes them more (sometimes FAR more) than the novice dog owner
is prepared to
handle. Thousands of Dalmatians, Border Collies and Jack
Russells found themselves given up by owners who HAD to get
on because of the image
Hollywood gave them. Some breeds are self-willed and can be a
challenge to work with.
Not that these dogs are bad but owners needs to understand the
breed. No breed is
untrainable – regardless of what some surveys would have you
think. Knowing the breed
(or breeds that went into a cross) is a big step to
understanding the dog and working with
What will happen to the dog if you start a
family? Are you just going to
dump the dog or
do what it takes to ensure he is ready for the
new arrival? What if you
have to move?
Thousands of pets are given up because of a new
child or move. Have you
the long-term needs of the dog?
What when the dog ages? Are you prepared to
cope with the onset of
old age or when
the dog is no longer "useful" will you get rid
of it? Can you handle the
issues that can go along with a senior dog? A
dog will spend his life
trying to please an
owner. The least we can do is make their
Golden years truly golden.
If you can commit
to all there, then maybe you are ready to
commit to a dog.
Are you ready for a dog
Pet Editor, Your Life Magazine on line,
West Wind Dog Training
© 2006 West Wind Dog Training