When choosing a dog, there is a lot to consider and the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. So many people choose a dog based on looks alone and then end up in a world of trouble.
You wouldn’t choose a partner based on looks alone and nor should you choose a dog that way.
Choosing to bring a dog into the family deserves as much though and preparation as choosing to have children. Dogs live for 12 to 15 years, often longer and as the owner you need to be committed to the life of the dog, not just the cutest or easiest stages.
Often people will meet someone else’s great dog and they have to have one of the same breed so that they can have such a great dog too. Not all dogs in one breed are the same however. Each dog is an individual and although breeds have characteristics that are the norm, they are subject to variation. The genetics of an individual dog and the environment it is raised in also play a critical role in the way a dog will turn out. Some people believe that cross bred dogs are superior based on their experiences. Some are great dogs and some are not.
You may see a good looking dog with a great personality on a movie or television show. Breeds are often made popular by movies, for example, Dalmatian in 101 Dalmatians, the border collie made popular by the movie Babe. Unfortunately, this has led to many dogs landing in unsuitable homes. Working breeds such as the border collie need a job to do. They are bred to work constantly. Can you devote the time required each day to satisfy this need?
Before deciding to get a dog, spend some time evaluating what you can offer the dog, not just what the dog can offer to you. Don’t base your decision purely on the now, think of the long term. For example, some people aim to get a dog that is cheap or free. In reality, the initial purchase price is a tiny fraction of what you will need to spend on the dog throughout its life to provide adequate care and be a responsible dog owner. Research thoroughly before making a decision.
Some other important things to consider before getting a dog are:
- Housing – where will the dog spend most of its time? If you want the dog to live outdoors, will it be getting enough attention? Are you allowed to keep a dog where you live? Ie rental properties or body corporates
- Time – how much time are you willing and able to commit to the dog? This is very important. Dogs need quality time from their ‘packs.’ As a responsible owner, you will also need to devote time to exercise and training
- Finances – The purchase price is the last cost to consider – can you afford to provide the proper care? Would you have enough money in the event of an emergency? Could you afford pet insurance? There is also vaccinations, flea and heartworm treatments, food and grooming to consider
- Activity – this is a big one. Does the activity level of the individual dog you want match you activity level? Can you keep up and provide adequate exercise and stimulation?
- People and household – what sort of people will your dog live with and come into contact with? Is everyone in the house agreeable to having a dog?
All too often I see dogs in homes that are less than ideal. Many owners just aren’t willing to devote time to training and responsible ownership. I often wonder why people bother to get dogs when they are left in the back yard full time and ignored.
As pack animals, dogs need to feel included as part of the family.
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