Deciding to Get a Dog
When you and your family start to make the choice of whether or not you should get a dog, you need to consider several factors that can greatly influence your final decision. Dogs make excellent pets for a family to have by providing companionship, protection, humor and an endless source of affection.
They are also a wonderful way to teach your children about responsibility and compassion.
The best way to begin the process of making this decision is to sit down as a family and make a list of reasons why a dog is a good idea to have.
Then, you will also want to consider reasons why your family may not be a perfect fit to have a dog at the current time. This will help you to compare the advantages and disadvantages so that you can make a good decision.
The first item to consider is how much time yourself if you live alone, or your family will have to spend interacting with and taking care of the dog. The amount of time that is needed depends on the breed and size of the dog that you will adopt.
For example, a large and energetic dog will require more attention and care than one that is smaller and calmer. If your family has a lot of extracurricular activities and is not home very often, you will want to stick with dog breeds that are small to medium in size.
Those who live out in the country and have more free time are a better fit for dogs that are larger in size and energetic.
Grooming is one task that can take a great deal of time with some breeds versus others. Dog breeds such as Newfoundlands, poodles and those with long hair have to be bathed and brushed more often in order to keep their coats clean.
If your family has more limited time a smart choice is to go with an animal that has shorter hair. These animals require less grooming and brushing. It is also important to consider the size of the home that you live in.
Some dog breeds need more room to move around in than others, especially Labradors, hunting dogs and larger breeds. You need to decide whether or not your dog will be an indoor or outdoor dog as well. Some dogs can be either, depending on their personality, breed and size.
A critical factor to consider is whether you and your family are willing to take the time to properly train the dog. Training is a very important part of having a healthy and happy pet who is easy to manage and does not cause disruption.
You will have the option of either training the dog yourself or enrolling in a formal training program taught by a professional trainer. The time and effort invested in this is well worth the effort and can greatly increase the enjoyment you and your family will have with your dog. If you are not willing to take the time to train you may be able to find an animal that has already been trained by a previous owner.
If your family loves to travel, you will have to weigh in the cost of boarding over long periods of time. This cannot be a large problem if you have friends or family who are willing to stop by and take care of your animal while you are gone.
If your family does not have a large budget then boarding is not going to be a very viable option. You do always have the option, though, of taking your dog with you on the road.
Many hotels welcome travelers who have pets and sometimes charge only a nominal fee for them to stay in the room with you. You will also have to provide food and a container for your pet to travel in.
Allergies and other health problems, such as asthma, can often be problematic when a dog or other pet is in the home. If you or one of your children has a health condition or allergy that might be irritated by the presence of a dog, this may be a problem.
The problem may be prevented through treatment and you can also find dog breeds that do not shed as much as others.
When looking at your family budget, you will have to make part of your decision based on the costs associated with food, veterinary care, training and related pet expenses. Dogs must see a veterinarian at regular intervals to receive required shots for rabies and other illnesses along with getting a checkup for any health problems.
Feeding can also be costly, depending on the animal. A good rule of thumb to remember here is that the larger the breed of dog that you choose, the more food that you will have to buy. A larger dog will eat almost twice as much food per day as a smaller one will. This can add up to great expense on your part in monthly feeding. If you want to stay within your budget, a smaller dog may be the better option.
Your children also play an important part in the decision as to whether your family is ready or not for a dog as a pet. If your children are very small, you may want to hold off on getting an animal until they are older.
This is advantageous in that you will have more time to properly teach them how to take care of, interact with and be responsible for a dog as a pet. Smaller children often are not ready for this, especially if the parents do not have the time to give to the animal.
By waiting a few years until they are older, you will have more time to also see how your children's personalities will match up with having a pet and if any health problems are present.
If your family entertains guests quite often, you have to consider how your pet will interact with them and if you will have to put the animal up while they are visiting.
This is where planning comes in. It is essential that you have a place for the dog to go when not out in the yard or in the house. Many dogs are crate trained, meaning that they are taught to go into a roomy cage in another room to sleep or stay.
Other families may keep them in an outside kennel run, the garage or a separate room of the home. This place has to be seen as a safe, secure place for the animal to go. When you have guests, you can simply take the dog here to avoid unwanted jumping or other occurrences. Crate training is an invaluable step in giving your pet a safe and secure place to go to rest and allows you freedom to have guests without worry.
If you are going to entertain friends and family that are not fond of dogs, you will want to weigh whether or not you can adequately deal with this situation. This is why analyzing the amount of space that you have and your budget is so important.
The dog should not spend all of its time locked up with no place to roam. Dogs, of any size, need room to move about and exercise in. They also enjoy being played with and given affection in return. Your family should be willing to give this attention, along with feeding, grooming and proper health care. If you family is willing and has the time to do all of these things, then you are ready for a dog.
If you still feel that some things may be problematic at this time, consider going with a different breed or waiting for a period of time.
Sitting down and taking all of these factors into account as a family is essential to ensure your enjoyment, as well as the dog's, in the experience as a whole. If you feel ambivalent about some aspects of the venture, it does not mean that your family should not get a dog.
It may only mean that you need to wait awhile until circumstances are more amiable to your family having a pet. Taking all of these factors into consideration will allow you to make a more educated choice and ensure that the experience is pleasant, hassle free and an unforgettable one. You will be glad that you put the time into making the choice together as a family.