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Should You Own a Dog?
September 1999
By Devon Chan, top dog canine training services

 

Introduction

   Owning a dog can be a wonderful experience, but it is not for everyone. Being honest with yourself in the beginning about whether or not you should own a dog may save you a lot of heartache later. Loving dogs is definintely a prerequisite to owning one, but it is not the only requirement. Before you rush out to buy a new puppy, put your emotions aside and do some serious self-evaluating. Keep in mind as well that there are many other options, such as volunteering at an animal shelter, that would allow you to spend time with dogs without being solely responsible for one. Here are some things to consider:

 

Why do you want a dog?

    Your primary reason for wanting a dog should be for companionship. Yes, dogs can have "careers" such as show, breeding, tracking, protection, etc., but they still need the same love and attention. Do not get a dog if you are looking primarily for a playmate for the children, or a guard for the house. Even if the dog "belongs" to the children, you will still have to look after it. And if you are looking for a theft deterent, consider an alarm system.
    Also beware if you are attracted to the image of dogs portrayed on TV and in the movies. Lassie is not a real dog. She is an idealistic image portrayed by many well-trained dogs doing tricks for the camera. Likewise, when you remember the wonderful dog you had as a child, you may have forgotten a lot of the negative elements. Your new dog may not measure up to your treasured memory.

 

Do you have time for a dog?

   All dogs require time on the part of the owner. They need to be walked, fed, played with, taken to the vet, and trained among many other things. As well, a dog cannot be left unattended for long periods of time on a regular basis. This means that if you work full time and cannot have someone reliable come to your house during the day, perhaps you should reconsider getting a dog. Leaving the dog in a backyard run is not an alternative as dogs need companionship and can become destructive if they are lonely or bored.

 

Your dog will be a member of your family.

    This means that decisions that previously involved only your human family now will involve your dog as well. Dogs need to be considered when you decide where to live, what to do on your vacations, even how long you stay away from home during the day.

 

    If in the end you find that you are unable to own a dog at this time, don't feel badly. It is not a negative reflection on you. Remember, there are lots of other ways to be involved in the dog world. Try volunteering, set up a service for dog owners, or just start a "dog lovers" group (maybe on the internet). People who are honest about their situation are doing far more for the welfare of dogs than people who own dogs they know they shouldn't.