Dogs are arguably the most popular pets in the UK, and millions of people appreciate and actively enjoy the wide range of positive effects and benefits that go hand in hand with dog ownership. Dogs make great companions, and are loyal, loving and fun to be around. They can help to get you out of the house and exercise more, can help to teach your children about responsibility, and will always be on your side when the chips are down. It is no wonder that dogs are so well regarded by their owners, and many people who keep dogs would say with their hands on their hearts that they actually prefer their dogs to most people! However, with the benefits of dog ownership and all of the amazing gifts that keeping a dog can bestow upon their owners, comes an equal amount of responsibility. If you think that you want to keep a dog, it is important to identify the feelings behind why you want one, and assess if they are the right reasons. Getting a dog for the wrong reasons can have a detrimental affect on both you and your family, and also your dog. Thousands of dogs every year are surrendered to rehoming shelters or simply abandoned, because their owners found that they were not prepared for the realities and demands of dog ownership, or because they bought their dog as part of a passing phase and soon became bored of it. Listed below are five of the worst reasons for considering getting a dog; if you can check all five of them off as not being relevant to you, then carry on!
Dogs are undeniably loyal and protective of their owners, and will often go out of their way even at the risk of injury to themselves to protect their owners from harm. Similarly, many dogs take to the role of guarding the home very naturally, and one of the side benefits of ownership of all types of dogs can be feeling more secure with your dog around, and knowing that they are acting as a deterrent to intruders in the home while you are out. This is all fine, but if you are considering getting a dog simply to guard your property or to make yourself look intimidating when you’re walking down the street, think again. Using your dog as a weapon or to stand in your place in the case of an altercation is not only often illegal, but is completely irresponsible and should be quickly discounted as an idea.
Small ‘handbag dogs’ may look like cute cuddly toys, but they are still dogs and need to be treated accordingly. You may think that porting a teacup Yorkie or Chihuahua about in a handbag is cute, but how will you feel about cleaning up their poop, feeding them, walking them and training them? There is nothing wrong with appreciating the appeal of a smaller breed of dog, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t carry a small dog in a specially designed underarm pet carrier. But don’t forget that there is much more to it than that, and that you will still need to train them, exercise them and take care of all of their needs in the same way as you would with any other dog.
Even if you are not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of having a dog, constant cries of ‘can we have a dog? Can we have a dog?’ from the kids can soon wear down even the most stalwart of parents. Do not give in to your children’s demands for a dog unless you are also fully on board with the decision, and willing to commit to caring for and loving the dog in question for the duration of its hopefully long life- whether the appeal wears off for your children or not.
The idea of coming home to a happy, loving dog that is really excited to see you and lets you know it is an appeal for most dog owners. A dog can make your house feel like a home, and give you something to look forwards to at the end of the day in a way that few other things can. But if you are out at work all day, travel a lot or are not home much, a dog is not likely to be a good fit for your lifestyle. It is not fair on a dog to be left alone for more than a few hours at a time, or to be regularly kennelled or cared for by strangers while you travel about. Consider waiting until your situation changes in the future before getting a dog, to make sure that you can give them the time and the attention that they deserve.
You might have lots of free time and enough cash to buy and take care of a dog’s needs now, but are you as sure as you can be that your situation won’t change unduly in the future? What if you got a new job, found a new partner, moved house or had children? Would you still be willing to make your dog your number one priority, and not make any changes to your lifestyle that would adversely affect them or push them out of your life? Are you willing to accept that you may potentially have to miss opportunities, and compromise in many areas to make sure that you do the best for your dog?Similarly, funding the cost of owning a dog while they are young and healthy may be well within your reach, but what about as your dog ages and their needs change, or if they were to get ill or injured? Could you still provide for them then? If the answer is ‘no,’ then please think again.