So you want to get a dog, for yourself or maybe for your family. But – before you rush out there are a few things you should keep in mind. Getting a dog is the start of a commitment that can last for up to 14 years. It is not the same as buying a coffee maker, deciding on a new mobile device, or replacing the couch. A dog is a living, breathing creature, even if it is an animal. It is going to need shelter, food, and a relationship. If you, and/or your family, can’t supply these basics – DO NOT GET A DOG.
If you get the combination of owner and dog correct, you have the prospect of years of mutual companionship, enjoyment, hours of fun and laughter to look forward to. You’ll build mutual understanding, a bond between man/woman and dog that can be hard to define. But if you get it wrong, it can be the start of a frustrating, disappointing and ultimately disastrous relationship for both parties.
You, your situation and lifestyle
You are the human making the decision to get a dog and will be the leader of the pack (hopefully!). So we start with you, the prospective owner and what you bring into the relationship.
Lifestyle and personality
Are you active and would like a dog you can take running, on walks along the beach or on hikes during weekend.
You’ll need a dog like a kelpie or an energetic Jack Russel. A dog that needs lots of exercise, for instance working type dogs. Your dog will love the outdoors and have lots of energy – be sure you keep yours up. Thought: A dog is a ruthless training partner; they don’t want to lie in or skip going out because of the weather or a late night!
Are you a fairly sedentary person who doesn’t want to take the dog for daily walks?
An older dog will be suitable, or one that’s too lazy/not interested in getting much exercise. However, dogs, like people, do need some form of activity and most dogs do enjoy getting out – even if it’s for a short distance up to the first tree, or patch of grass. This is important if the dog doesn’t have access to an outside garden or courtyard.
Or are you somewhere in-between, prepared to take the dog for a daily walk, or trip to the park?
You need a dog that will enjoy a walk, being outdoors or going on a fun outing. The dog will expect regular walks, and enjoy getting out; but will not be so dependent on exercise that it’ll destroy its environment when you skip a walk. Walking the dog regularly is a wonderful opportunity to get out, get to know your neighbourhood or meeting fellow dog lovers in the neighbourhood park.
Your ‘dog’ personality: Do you go up to perfect strangers to talk to their dog? Or do you like dogs, but prefer to keep them at a distance?
Dogs love attention, but like people some dogs want and need it more than others. There are dogs who prefer to keep a slight distance, while others will need no invitation to snuggle up on the couch with you or. When you choose a puppy, or observe an adult dog, be on the lookout for the dog’s preference as far as closer contact is concerned. You get lap-sitting Rottweilers, Beagles that prefer a more distant relationship; even puppies from the same litter may differ in personality. Like people, some dogs show their emotions more than others and you’ll get along better with your four-legged partner if you and your dog have the same preferences and expectations.
How much space will the dog have?
This is often the deciding factor when people get a dog. Many people who would love to have a dog, live in apartments or flats where it’s not possible/ allowed to have one. Do not get a dog if you don’t have the suitable space for one.
Dogs do live in large apartments, if they’re calm and getout for regular walks. A dog can be kept in a house with a small garden, patio or other outside area; provided it has shelter and food and is taken on regular walks (preferably twice daily if the dog has to be alone during the day).
If you are fortunate enough to have lots of space where the dog/s can run and play, you can choose virtually any type of dog. But remember there’s no substitute for human companionship and attention. There is no more patient, understanding creature to tell about the day than a dog…!
It goes without saying that the space where you leave the dog when you are not at home must be safe (fenced when outside) and as dog proof as possible if the dog has to stay inside the house.
Other people who will interact with the dog on a regular basis.
Are there other people your dog will come into daily contact with? Do you live alone, or are there partners, housemates or a family, children or older people in the house?
Although a dog usually has a favourite person, it can cause strife if members of the household actively dislike the dog. The feeling will probably be mutual as dogs are finely tuned into human’s body language. It is fine, and preferable, for one person to be mainly responsible for the dog’s care (this can be a child who is learning to take care of it). But be careful if you want to get a dog and another person is actively against it, doesn’t want a dog, or doesn’t like dogs. Be sure to discuss getting a dog with the other members of your household who will come in regular contact with it.
Dogs are wonderful companions for people living on their own, but again you have to think carefully about your circumstances. Even if you gravitate towards every dog you see in the park; do you have the space, time and energy to take the responsibility on yourself? For the next how many years? In this case it pays to think first about the life you can give the dog, rather than what the dog will bring to your life.
If there are small children or older people in a household this must be taken into account when choosing a dog.
People often buy a dog or puppy for a young child and to see a little boy or girl interact with a dog is a heart-warming sight. However, there are many pitfalls, as reports in the media regularly remind us. Some dogs are better around children than others, so choose very carefully, rather err on the side of caution. It’s not always the dog’s fault when something bad happens. You, as the adult owner, are responsible to for the dog, the situation and everyone’s safety.
Some dogs are naturally child friendly (think Labradors and Golden retrievers). But, especially young dogs are boisterous and unaware of their strength. They can scare a small child, or frail older person, and cause injury.
Also bear in mind that however close your child and the dog may be, it will be a different situation when other children come to play. Golden rule: Never, ever leave a dog unattended with children. No matter how well trained the dog, it is still an animal.
1Salomi is a contributing blogger ,dog lover and avid learner ,you can see more of her articles on her <a href=”http://dogasapet.weebly.com”>website</a>