It is a proven fact that dogs make people happier. I researched it in my final year of psychology and the statistics are incredible. They are brilliant for all ages and in particular children and the elderly. They teach you how to care for something other than yourself, they keep you fit and healthy, they always get excited when you come home, they keep up company and they give you unconditional love. They genuinely make people happy and healthier. And they always put a smile on your face.
In saying that, a dog is certainly not for everyone. And I have seen firsthand what can happen when someone takes on a dog and it doesn’t work out. It can be heartbreaking for both the dog and the owners.
The very first couple I consulted on getting a puppy actually ended up deciding that a dog was not for them. I felt so horrible that I had talked them out of getting a dog but in the end of the day – although they had a dog a few years back, their life style had changed so much, they didn’t have the time anymore to care for a dog. They were never home and always off travelling and had no interest in training the dog. The point of this story is not to talk you out of getting a dog, by any means!! I just want to prepare you so you don’t make the wrong decision. A dog should not be a quick purchase, it shouldn’t be a Christmas present you spring on your partner it is an incredible living and breathing four-legged hairy friend that will be in your family for possibly the next 15 years with responsibilities attached.
If you are thinking of owning a puppy/dog you need to have the time, love and money to put in. In the early days of owning a puppy/dog, it’s no understatement to expect to be spending time training and teaching your new dog every day. And then there’s the time commitment of walking your dog daily, making sure you are home to feed your dog, visits to the vet, grooming and the fun job of cleaning up all the poo. Dogs are social beings and they require plenty of attention, affection and mental stimulation too. If they become bored, they may become destructive. And you must also note that with a dog comes plenty of additional costs such as; Initial adoption or purchase fee, dog food and treats, pet insurance, vet bills, equipment, bedding and toys, plus holiday care for your dog when you go away. And trust me, it all adds up.
There are so many incredible and rewarding benefits that come with having a dog, but also lots of responsibility.
Before getting a dog ask yourself these questions…
- Is your lifestyle suitable for a dog? Do you work full time, and very long hours? What will you do with the dog all day? Do you go away often?
- Is the whole family committed to this dog, for at least 15 years (sometimes more if you are lucky!) and helping to train it?
- Is your house set up for a dog? Do you have space, right rental agreements and a safe yard?
- Are you able to take some time off when you get the dog to help it settle in? As a trainer, I think this is important.
- Do you have the time and patience to invest in training? This is an everyday commitment for the first few years and requires ongoing attention in order to set yourselves up for a successful life together.
- Do you have the budget for a dog? Dogs are expensive!
- If you have children already, is your youngest child five? Waiting till your youngest is 5 will make the whole process so much easier.
- If you don’t have children already, are you planning on having kids? Plan wisely. A dog age 2+ will be easier to manage with a baby than a younger dog.
- Do you have the time to exercise your dog? Dogs need daily exercise. A tired dog is more likely to be a well behaved dog so this is important. Not just on those warm sunny days, but also throughout winter. So you need to be prepared for this.
- Are you prepared for the mistakes your dog might make? i.e. chewing your favourite shoes. Puppies are just learning. So we need to be patient with them. Set them up for success. But there’s sure to be a few accidents along the way. Don’t be fooled, adult dogs can also get bored if not exercised or stimulated enough and become destructive too.
- Do you really want a dog? Are you doing this for you or for your family? If you are going to be the one looking after the dog, you have to want it too.
- Is now the right time?
If you can’t answer yes to all these questions, then maybe right now is not the right time for you and your family to get a dog.
Don’t get me wrong, owning a dog is one of the greatest joys. But I am just wanting to be realistic with you so you know that with so much love comes lots of hard work. So you need to be read and committed to it.
Dogs are incredible animals/companions and they will be in your family for possibly the next 15 years. Whether it’s a puppy you are getting or rescuing an older dog, they all need special love, care and attention when first settling into your home and throughout their lives. So please don’t take this decision lightly.
If you have any questions and are still unsure of what to do after reading this, please get in touch.