IS A DOG THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR ME/US
“A dog is for life not just for Christmas”
Never a truer word was spoken where dogs are concerned. Life can mean up to twenty years for some dogs, my oldest four legged friend was 17. This is a long term commitment and throughout this time your furry friend will need feeding, exercising (whatever the weather), medical care when ill or just old (like us), lots of your time for bonding, training and just being around. It will take some considerable time and effort to end up with the dog that you love. Dogs are sociable animals like us, one of the reasons man domesticated them from wolves in the first place so they need interaction with us and more importantly with other dogs too; this all takes time and effort from you and your family. If your dog does not get this interaction then it will almost certainly lead to unwanted behaviours, doing things that you might find unacceptable and you are up against it from the start.
Dogs can get all the diseases and health problems that we get and some others too, sometimes sadly from a young age, and as we all know vets don’t come cheap; myself I have always had a decent pet insurance in place to cover the unexpected. Young dogs and indeed many older dogs need to be taught what is right and wrong, what is acceptable behaviour in our human environment and what is not. Dogs often do things that are really just what dogs do but are perceived as unacceptable behaviour in our human environment and they need to be taught that this is not acceptable, they are much like children in their behaviour and require a lot of time, effort, consistency and perseverance to end up with a sociable, happy dog of sound temperament. There should never be any need to get physical with your dog if you go about things correctly from the start.
If you are to be a first time dog owner then there are some breeds of dog that would be best avoided as your first dog, I will cover this later, sadly I came across many dogs that were acquired for the wrong reasons, for instance, a Husky because it looks lovely (which it does), but they also need fairly specific handling and training making them hard to keep as a pet in the house, often it is not that the people should not have got a dog but more that they got the wrong breed of dog for the environment and lifestyle that they were in; more about this later.
A well behaved, sociable, good tempered dog is a joy to have in one's family and be around, they help to keep you fitter and healthier, help to relieve you of the everyday stress and strains of life, they are always happy to see you and never answer back, ha ha. Certain breeds will do some things better than others (explained later). On the other hand I have personally come across many owners who have fallen out of love with their dogs. Their dogs are eating their houses, digging the garden up, fouling indoors, fighting with other dogs, howling the house down when left alone and many other behavioural problems. Many (not all) of these problems would not have arisen if things were done correctly from the start. The main aim of this site is to help with this.
So to briefly run over the subject of "Is a dog right for me/us", think about do I have the :-
Money for:- Food, vet bills , insurance, possible changes to the home like fencing, general costs of dog toys, chews etc (chew these and not your house), kennelling if your dogs don't go with you on holiday and other unforeseen expenses.
Time for:- Exercise (ten mins round the block is not enough). Most dogs need a couple of hours of exercise and mental stimulation a day to be truly happy. This is not just running next to a bike, they need to stop, sniff, pee and socialise with other dogs; let a dog be a dog. Time for Training, Socialisation (especially when young), Grooming (some breeds daily), Playtime (essential for bonding and mental stimulation), possibly up to 20 years to spend with your new friend. Be honest and fair, do you have the time to give a dog a good home.
Environment:- Preferably a stable home environment (dogs get stressed too), safe garden (if you have one), some accessible decent walking areas (walk to or drive to) variety is the spice of life for them as well as us, Children (some breeds and some rescue dogs might not be good around children), but many are.
Lifestyle:- Does a dog fit in with your lifestyle or your lifestyle suit the breed of dog you are looking at. Often when I saw owners with a problem dog if they wanted to keep the dog it involved a lifestyle change as well as some behaviour modification, a big change for many people is not possible and the dog suffers by being re-homed. Admittedly the dog will have a much better life with the right owners but surely it would be best for this not to happen in the first place, hopefully this site will help this from not happening to you and your prospective dog if you read on. If everybody in your family spends very little time at home and you are not able to take a prospective dog with you to work or other (dogwalker/sitter); do think seriously about whether you can offer a dog (a social animal ) a good home with all they require.
Research:- Not many would-be owners do it but it would definitely be worth any prospective owners time to research a breed of dog they are interested in. As I have previously said your four legged friend could be around for twenty years so you want to get it right. You can speak to breeders, dog breed societies or clubs, helpful owners of your prospective breed or any knowledgeable canine professionals. Of course this only really applies to pedigree dogs which have a certain expected set of standards so you know what you are getting to some extent, crossbreeds are a little different as you really don't know what you are going to end up with as they are mix of two or more breeds; personally I have always had crossbreeds and I love them. I would like to say that if you take on a crossbreed dog that is obviously biased to one breed then that breeds possible specific behaviours/traits may be present. I have come across many staffie crosses for instance that behaved like a pure bred staffie.
All of the above is not to put anyone of from having a dog but to give you a good idea of what ideally you should think about. Most dogs will put up with whatever life they happen to end up in, but some could have a much better life elsewhere. Dogs are truly great animals and some time, research and consideration should be put in before heading down that path.
For more information take a look at my /which-breed-dog-or-crossbreed-is-best page.
GOOD LUCK !