Dogs are great. They provide unconditional love no matter how poor, ugly, out of shape or goofy we are. Their tails still wag even when the world crashes down around them. They teach us patience, compassion, joy and consistency with a humble virtue, and only ask for a few pats on the head in return.
Dogs may be God’s gift to mankind, but which dog is right for your lifestyle? Being a responsible dog owner takes time and effort. Before you run out and get a pup, ask yourself if you are ready to make a commitment for the next ten years at least. Consider your current lifestyle and whether you are willing to change it to meet your dog’s needs.
Single lads and lasses
Single, active lifestyles can be a precarious situation for a dog. Many singles are still young and put in extra hours at the office or to socialize. Dogs require an extreme amount of care, including many daily trips to potty, rigorous exercise and hefty vet bills. Some singles devote their entire life and paycheck to care for their canine, which is admirable, but not everyone is prepared to do this. If a dog is a commitment you are ready to make, consider your living situation and the amount of time you can devote to a doggy before you bring one home.
Size does matter
Most people operate under the false assumption that a small dog doesn’t need to exercise as frequently as a large dog. It actually works the opposite way. Small dogs come with endless energy to burn and a bladder to match their body size. Many smaller breeds are also very difficult to train and require constant reinforcement to avoid behavioral issues. The stature of a small dog may make it fit better physically in an apartment or condo, but their activity level sure does not. Many breeds of large dog on the other hand, are absolute couch potatoes, happy to sleep all day long. Although they may take up more space, they may also require less effort.
Almost all children beg their parents for a dog. Problems occur when parents do not have the time to care for a pup and their children, or choose the wrong breed for their family. Research is one of the keys to happy dog ownership and choosing the right dog for you. Read up on different breeds and their behavior with children. Some breeds seem to be better suited to live with kids than others. Many toy and small breed dogs are not the best option for families with small children. The smaller the size of the dog, the more fragile it is, making little, no yet coordinated children a bad fit. Some smaller breeds also have a tendency to be aggressive; little teeth and little children are also a bad combination. Activity level is also a major consideration for families who look to bring a pet into their home. Although your children seem to have endless energy, it is doubtful they will spend it entertaining Fido at all times. Since you will more than likely be the dog’s primary care giver, ensure you have the time to spend in order to meet his needs.
Expand your options
Most people think ‘puppy’ when they consider adding a family member. There are other options though, than to purchase a puppy. First off, most puppies you purchase at a pet store come from puppy mills. Generally these pups are prone to medical issues due to poor breeding practices and should be avoided. Your local animal shelter has a plethora of pets of every age ready to share their love. If you are interested in a specific breed of dog, look up a local breed rescue organization and contact them to see if you qualify to rescue one of their dogs. The beauty of adopting an older dog is many come trained! If you don’t have the time for a puppy, consider adopting a mature dog. They have just as much love to give as a pup, but usually need a home more desperately.
Yet another option
If you are still not quite sure if you can be a good dog mommy or daddy, there is another option. Most rescue organizations whether they are breed specific or not, are in dire need of foster homes. Take a trial run at dog ownership and help a needy pet at the same time. Most foster situations last a few days to a few weeks and can give you an opportunity to test your dog parenting skills. If you are already sure you’d make an excellent parent for a pooch, fostering is a great way to narrow down the breed, size and sex right for you.
In the end
Welcoming a dog into your family can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, if done correctly. Keep in mind a dog is a living, breathing creature, not an accessory. They need a ton of attention and care you must provide. If you can provide this, your world and theirs will be much more enjoyable. There are some great websites out there that will assist you in finding the right pooch for you. Petfinder.org has a wealth of resources as well as shelter listings and rescue organizations to help in your search.