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Should You Get A Dog?

Feb 22, 2008
Dog ownership comes with considerable responsibility, and the decision to introduce a dog whether puppy or adult into your home should not be taken lightly. Having a dog inevitably changes your lifestyle.

The decision to bring a dog home can (and hopefully will) represent a 10 or 15 year commitment or more. Advancements in veterinary care and nutrition have resulted in longer life spans for most breeds of dogs.

Dogs require a time commitment from their owners. They are pack animals and do not like to be left alone for extended periods of time. You and your family members become your dog's pack. The workaholic who leaves for the office at 6AM and comes back at 10PM is not the ideal dog owner.

Frequent travelers have to make arrangements for boarding their dog when they are gone, which can be expensive. Even if suitable arrangements can be made, no dog wants to spend half its life in a boarding kennel he wants to be with his pack.

Time must be spent training and socializing your dog so he can be a member of the community. Your dog must be under control when he meets people or dogs on a walk, or when guests come to your home. Successful training requires patience, consistency and time.

A poorly trained dog can be disruptive to a household. And a dog that is poorly socialized can be a hazard for children and other dogs he might encounter. In many cases, it is beneficial for the dog and owner to attend organized obedience training classes.

Dogs vary in the amount of maintenance they require, but most dogs need to have their coats brushed or groomed (in some cases like the Old English Sheepdog this may require several hours of grooming per week). They need their teeth brushed regularly.

Most breeds need some kind of daily exercise, some need long walks or runs daily or twice daily to keep them contented. They need the stimulation of play as well, whether it is a simple game of fetch a ball or more formal activities such as entering agility training programs. Some breeds must have their ears cleaned regularly. And don't forget baths!

The bottom line question is: Does your lifestyle allow you enough time to properly care for your dog, well beyond just feeding him or talking him for a quick walk around the block when you get home from work?

Dogs require a financial commitment. The total annual cost of owning a dog surprises many people it's best to be prepared and budget accordingly. Good quality dog food is not cheap. Municipalities require that dogs be licensed. Then there's the cost of dog toys, dog beds, leashes, collars, treats, grooming it all adds up.

Health care for your dog can be expensive. At a minimum, your pet will need annual wellness exams and vaccinations. But emergency injuries or illness happen as well. Dogs sometimes need expensive surgery. They ingest things that are harmful to them, including plants in your yard. As dogs get older, just like people their medical expenses rise.
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