There’s no doubt that a canine companion can improve your life in many ways, but do think before you bring a dog home.
The American comedian Louis C.K. famously said that bringing home a puppy is ‘a countdown to sorrow’. It’s true, the biggest downside to getting a dog – and there are a few – is that they’re unlikely to outlive us and it can be a harrowing loss when they pass away. But should this mean not getting one in the first place?
I personally couldn’t live without my trusty canine companion. If you’re considering the leap into dog ownership consider the many benefits. However, if you haven’t owned a dog before, bear in mind that it’s not a responsibility to take lightly; consider all that this huge commitment entails and weigh up the pros and cons before you buy your first bone.
They are great company…
There’s nothing like having a trusty pooch around, and always there to keep you company. Dogs are pack animals, meaning they love to be with their pack – and you’re the head of the pack. It’s nice to have someone around that always thinks you’re fabulous.
… But you can’t always be there
The downside of that is they always want your company. When you go out, and wherever you go, they want to go with you. Are you prepared for that?
They motivate you to exercise…
As any dog owner can tell you, you only have to mention the W-A-L-K word, put on your walking shoes, or jangle the lead, and your dog will go absolutely crazy at the prospect of a walk. I’ve heard of the odd dog who is a lazybones but all the dogs I’ve known LOVE exercise. So, by having a dog you should be forced from the sofa and into regular walking.
There are even studies that show that many dog owners get more exercise than their non-dog owning counterparts.
… But they’re exhausting
This too has its downsides. What if you’re too busy? What if you don’t feel like going for a walk and your dog is constantly nagging you to go out? This usually takes the form of nudging you with their snout. Remember that generally, the bigger the dog the more exercise they need, but it also depends on the breed so do your research. If you can’t give an energetic breed lots of exercise, don’t get that one.
They need you…
Why is that a good thing you might ask? It’s nice to be needed and it’s why many people whose children have grown up get a dog – as a child ‘substitute’ – or why many couples get a dog before they make the decision to have kids.
… But you have to work
There are some progressive employers where you can bring your dog into work, but that’s unusual and doggy daycare can be expensive. Seriously consider your lifestyle and how you can look after a dog if you’re out all day or working long hours. Select the breed or temperament accordingly.
They’re undoubtedly delightful creatures, and people usually have favoured breeds that they love, but even the most mixed mutt is loveable.
… But they’re messy
Yes, they’re cute but you know, they also poo (and you have to pick it up), most shed hair, and they can really mess up your house lying on the sofa and drooling over (or even chewing) the furniture. Of course there are lots of breeds nowadays that don’t shed so much and if you have a black dog as opposed to a blonde one, the hairs won’t show as much (unless you have a light floor). So, do your research, and if you’re a meticulously clean and tidy person, choose wisely.
Their love is unconditional…
Unlike children and spouses, dogs don’t talk back, spend all your money, or demand things from you. Well, they do demand your time but if you don’t give it they’ll still keep loving you anyway.
… But they’re expensive
Before you adopt or buy, ensure that you can really afford a dog. Consider all the annual costs – food, vet bills, pet insurance. And even the costs of having a puppy. You can lose hundreds of dollars worth of shoes and furnishings in a puppy’s chewing stages.
They are great protectors…
I feel so much safer when I’m in the house alone and my dog is there. Perhaps he would just lick any intruders or cower in the corner; it doesn’t matter. I feel better knowing he’s there and looks pretty tough, so he is at least a deterrent.
… But they need lots of space
Have you got enough room for your dog? Choose your breed according to the space that they’ll have available.
They’re good for your health…
There are studies showing that having a dog can have wonderful effects on our health. In addition to increased exercise (and this includes lowering blood pressure), dogs decrease stress, which is good for the heart, and improve our mood.
… But what about holidays?
Remember if you go overseas, you can’t take your dog with you and other than special pet-friendly accommodation, you can’t take dogs to many hotels, self-contained holiday homes or camp sites. Check that you’ve got good, reputable dog boarding in your area or see if family or friends are willing to look after your dog while you’re away.
They are good for children…
As well as being a lovely, loyal member of the family and giving the children the chance to learn responsibility in caring for and feeding a needy pet, they can be motivation for them to exercise too.
According to one study, children with dogs do more exercise than those without.
… But be careful
Be careful when bringing a dog into a house with children. Until you really know your new dog, especially if he or she is a grown up, you need to ensure children act with care and treat him or her with respect. The dog must also know its place in the pack and not think he or she is above the children. Or, if bringing a new baby into a home with a dog that’s already established there, exercise caution until the new baby has settled in.
They’re like family…
Once they’re established though, your hound will become a trusted and loyal member of the pack and everyone in the family will treasure him. They can be so much fun and provide so much entertainment and friendship.
… But they don’t live forever
As previously stated, it’s true we can become so attached to our beloved pets and many dogs only live to around 12 years of age, though some breeds can live past 15 years. It can be devastating to lose a dog once you’ve come to love them, but weighing it all up, it’s worth it.