Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to Decide if You Really Want a Dog

Do you know the questions to ask to make sure you really want a dog? If you are a previous owner of a dog, you probably already know because you have already been on that ride. If you grew up with dogs as I did, that isn’t necessarily a reason to get one, unless you had to help take care of a dog growing up. What most first time dog owners don’t realize is that owning a dog is a commitment for life and you should treat it that way. Unfortunately, many of the dogs that end up in shelters are there because their previous owners didn’t realize what getting a dog entails. 
There are costs involved past the original purchase price of your new friend. There are bills for the vet for regular visits and emergency visits, food, toys, gates, crate and training costs. If you live in city or country there are safety issues, and there can be issues with wild animals. These are just a few of the things you might come across. If you get a puppy, they teethe and dogs don’t stop chewing, they just stop teething when they get all their teeth in.
A good place to start is by doing some research into the kind of dog breed you are interested in, whether you want a purebred or a shelter dog. How much exercise will your chosen dog need? Do they need to sleep indoors? What kind of activity level will your new dog have? How much space do you need for the dog you want? Do you live in a house or apartment? Do you have a yard or will you have to walk your new friend? Do you have the time to take care of this new addition to the family, or are you a workaholic? Do you mind if the dog gets hair on the carpet or your white sofa? Or runs across your clean floor with muddy paws? Do you mind drooling? Does your city or state have restrictions against the breed you want to get? Does your chosen breed have health or allergy issues?
Go to your local library or book store and pick up a few books. The AKC has a comprehensive breed guide for all the AKC registered breeds. Simon & Schuster also has one that goes into the temperament and housing needs of the breeds in their book. There are several good books on the market today that can tell you what you need to know while doing your research. After you answer all these questions and you can still say yes, put on your seat belt. You are in for one of the most fun rides of your life.

Ruthie Bently

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