Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Things to Think About Before Getting A Dog

To me, getting a pet is a full commitment. You're in it for the long run. We got our dog expecting to have him for 5-10 years, even though he's already 8. It's not a short-term thing, and I think a fair few people forget that. So, hoping to help make people think a little before buying a pet on a whim, I put together this post.

What to think about before getting a dog

Think about it again and again. And again. Do you really want a dog, or do you just like the idea of having a dog? First of all, if you really do want a dog, do you have the time? If you already come home from work and want to flop on the sofa for the rest of the night, are you really going to take your dog out for a minimum of 30 minutes a day? No matter the weather, how busy you might be or if you don't fancy it? He or she is a living thing, and will want attention and love and exercise, and you need to set aside time for him or her daily. Second of all, no matter how much you want a dog, can you afford one? Food, vets, insurance, toys, beds, blankets, bowls, all cost money.

You have to go at your dogs pace. Please please please don't get a dog and then invite the entire family over to see it in the same day. Imagine moving house, and then twenty minutes after you get in the door you have all the neighborhood come over to greet you. It will overwhelm your dog, and it'll confuse him. If you're not prepared to take things slow and put your social life on hold for a few months, then maybe you should get a gold-fish. The first few weeks, at least, should be for you and your new family member to bond and get into a routine before everyone starts coming over.

Rehome if you can. Through rehoming I've had the best family pets. This does mean you have to take my last point a hell of a lot more seriously too. It might not even be that you rehome through the kennels, but maybe you take on a friend or family member's dog if they're not able to care for them anymore. One word or advice though, if you are interviewed by the kennels and they say your lifestyle isn't right for a dog, they're probably right. Listen to them, they're doing the best for the dog and for yourselves. If you end up buying, please make sure you're going through a reputable breeder and someone who cares for their animals rather than a puppy farm.

Quick little story to go with the above: Last year a couple I know went to the kennels and were told they have way too many people in and out of their house that don't live at the property to rehome a dog. They got angry, and bought a puppy a week later. Before the puppy reached a year old, they got a trainer and were told they need to spend more time with him and that was the reason for his behavior. Instead of changing their lifestyle, they got rid of the puppy and are now looking for another dog. Don't be like them.

Are there any other big things coming up? Are you having a baby soon, moving, or going on holiday? If there's anything big coming up get a dog after it's happened, whether you rehome or buy. It'll be a lot less stressful if you don't have to worry about a dog as well! Having to think about introducig your new baby to a dog who you barely know and arranging kennels for a dog while you move or go on holiday can be a pain in the bum, so wait a little while before you rush into it. Plus, if you're that sure about getting a dog, wouldn't it be nice to bring it back to a relaxed home instead of one where you're all go go go all the time?

Talk to the staff at the rehoming center. Or the breeder, whatever way you go. If you have any questions at all, ask. It's better to ask now and know before hand, than it be too late and you've got yourself in a sticky situation. 

Volunteer or foster. If you don't think you can take the responsibility of caring for a dog for the next 10 years of it's life, then maybe helping out your local shelter is a good way to go. You can volunteer your time as a dog walker, or maybe free up some space in the kennels for them to be able to help more dogs by fostering. If this is something you're interested in, speak with your local shelter and they'll be able to give you more information.

Getting a dog is a big thing. It's not a toy, or something to show off about. He or she is a living creature, they have feelings and and ways of communicating with you. You can find huge amounts of information online and ask just about every question you may have to a trainer. If you have someone in your family or friends circle that have a really well behaved and happy dog, you could even ask them what their tips are.

So, to summarize: Don't get a dog (or any animal) without thinking about it beforehand. Do your research and ask questions. Consider all options, like rehoming, buying, fostering, and volunteering. You'll end up with a happier dog and you too will be happier.

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