Should You Get a Dog?
Dog ownership comes with considerable responsibility, and the decision to introduce a dog—whether puppy or adult—into your home should not be taken lightly. Having a dog inevitably changes your lifestyle. The decision to bring a dog home can (and hopefully will) represent a 10 or 15-year commitment or more. Advancements in veterinary care and nutrition have resulted in longer life spans for most breeds of dogs.
Dogs require a time commitment from their owners. They are pack animals and do not like to be left alone for extended periods of time. You and your family members become your dog’s pack. The workaholic who leaves for the office at 6 AM and comes back at 10 PM is not the ideal dog owner. Frequent travelers have to make arrangements for boarding their dog when they are gone, which can be expensive. Even if suitable arrangements can be made, no dog wants to spend half its life in a boarding kennel—he wants to be with his pack.
Time must be spent training and socializing your dog so he can be a member of the community. Your dog must be under control when he meets people or dogs on a walk, or when guests come to your home. Successful training requires patience, consistency—and time. A poorly trained dog can be disruptive to a household. And a dog that is poorly socialized can be a hazard to children and other dogs he might encounter. In many cases, it is beneficial for the dog and owner to attend organized obedience training classes.
Dogs vary in the amount of maintenance they require, but most dogs need to have their coats brushed or groomed (in some cases like the Old English Sheepdog this may require several hours of grooming per week). They need their teeth brushed regularly. Most breeds need some kind of daily exercise; some need long walks or runs daily or twice daily to keep them contented. They need the stimulation of play as well, whether it is a simple game of fetching a ball or more formal activities such as entering agility training programs. Some breeds must have their ears cleaned regularly. And don’t forget baths!
The bottom line question is: Does your lifestyle allow you enough time to properly care for your dog, well beyond just feeding him or talking him for a quick walk around the block when you get home from work?
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