Are you ready for a dog? Responsible Ownership
Firstly, is dog ownership right for you? Sure, that cute little ball of fur may be irresistible right now but could be disastrous down the road if you’ve made the wrong choice. There are many factors that need to be considered before you make that final choice.
Do you have what it takes to be a responsible dog owner?
Responsible dog ownership is more than adoring your puppy, it’s a lifetime commitment that requires time and close attention, so before you get that dog be sure you are ready to commit to responsible dog ownership, cause when Fido misbehaves, you, ultimately will have to take the blame.
Can you afford a dog?
Basic dog expenses can range from $700 to $3000 per year, if you are like me, you buy the premium food and the supplements, and those costs increase dramatically
Vet costs are usually fixed, but in the event of an emergency or health conditions and these can add up; my German Shorthaired Pointer, Tank, in his first two years of his life was $20,000 in vet bills and for myself, it was money well spent, but not everyone can afford this expense.
Consider purchasing pet insurance after you get your new dog; a large percentage of medical expenses may be covered. This will aid you in making a monthly budget that you can stick to.
Is your home appropriate for a dog?
Pet proofing your home, is not like child proofing, dogs are craftier than kids when it comes to off-limits areas (especially those with edible components). You can hardly expect your dog to be fully trained on arrival, so there is bound to be the need for confinement and restraint. If you rent your home, like I do, you can work with your landlord to invite your new dog into your home.
Other things to consider when you bring in a new puppy into your home; potty training, chewing (some dogs are more destructive than others) but chewing are a major concern, especially if they ingest something foreign and cannot pass!
Can your lifestyle accommodate a dog?
What about size and activity level of the dog, will they match your ability to offer them both mental and physical stimulation as they mature from puppy to adulthood, your dog will need to be trained and exercised to eliminate the possibility of destructive behaviour.
If you work long hours or travel frequently, your lifestyle may not be appropriate for a dog in your life. Though social life is important to many people, do friends and dating take up a majority of your free time? You will need to consider whether you are willing to sacrifice or make adjustments your lifestyle to accommodate a dog in your life and if the answer is no, you are not ready for a dog. If the answer is yes things to consider, training, grooming, exercise and vet care and fitsthose needs into your schedule.
What steps will you take to train your dog?
Out of all the needs, this is the most important; a properly trained and socialized dog will not only be appreciated but a welcomed by all those you encounter.
Dogs thrive on structure and discipline, and training is paramount to your dog’s quality of life. Choose a training program and follow through. I would suggest that you join a training class with a professional instructor. You will need to establish yourself as the boss, reinforce good behaviour and humanely correct the inappropriate behaviour. Be consistent and you will see the positive results.
Maintaining the bond between man and dog is vital, set aside time for you and your dog where you can engage, petting, playing with toys, and taking walks with him are some ways that you can strengthen your bond.
Responsible dog ownership is more than a knee jerk reaction, we see a puppy and think that they are cute and adorable, but some tend to forget that the puppy they fell in love when the matures he is completely different from that little ball of fur that we held in our hands at the first meeting.
Statistics from the ASPCA
For some, pet owners are completely overwhelmed and think that the life that they brought into their home can be easily disposed of, with most being brought to shelters, with the thought of out of sight out of mind.
In the United States, they have some frightening statistics:
- Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
- Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
- Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
- About 649,000 animals that enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 542,000 are dogs and only 100,000 are cats.
- Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs that came in as strays are returned to their owner.
- Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.
About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that is relinquished by their owners.
According to the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dogs is because their place of residence does not allow pets (29%), not enough time, divorce/death and behaviour issues (10% each).
So before you endeavour to get a dog you need know and accept all the responsibilities and I mean all the responsibilities. Know
that the dog that you bring into your home is a loving, sentient creature that if nurtured the right way will bring you plenty of joy to your home and life.
When you take the time and effort to train, love and accept this dog as your family member, the better your dog will be in your home and those that meet you and your furry little friend.
The greatest joy in my life are my two German Shorthaired Pointers, Tank and Kira, but it’s not without it’s ups and downs but with some patience and understanding, they have become an integral part of my everyday life and I tell you there aren’t any regrets!
Anyone who enters my life knows or comes to know that nothing and I mean nothing will stand in the way of my relationship that I have with my dogs and as frustrating as they can be, I love them with all my heart and they have come to accept me as part of their family.
So there are many aspects to dog ownership and the responsibility to making them part of your life, please do not make this decision on a whim, make an informed choice and you will have a companion that will love you unconditionally.
In closing, there is an HBO documentary, “One Nation Under Dog” it is a must see.
You can follow this link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxD-tuu9CrQ
It’s not for the faint of heart.
Remember, you chose to bring this dog into your home, be responsible to pick the right dog, train properly and responsibly so that you can enjoy all the happiness that they will bring into your home.