What are things to consider before you decide to become a dog owner?

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Answered by: Lianne, An Expert in the Become a Dog Owner Category
Having been a dog lover all my life, I know that feeling whenever I see those outrageously cute puppy photos and videos posted everywhere online. A lot of people can’t resist the temptation and jump into the idea of becoming a dog owner. But as a dog shelter volunteer, I can also tell you that a lot of puppies are being abandoned by their impulsive owners due to several common reasons. So if you want to become a dog owner, please consider these four questions before you bring a puppy into your life.

1. How is your financial status?

If you take one browse on Craigslist, you will quickly discover that the Number One reason why people have to give up their dogs is that they simply cannot afford the costs anymore. Having a dog is means that you have to feed it, bring it to the doctors for regular checkups, and take them to the groomers every now and then for trimmings. The monthly pet care cost can easily be around $500. For certain breeds of dogs, you can run into unforeseen genetic disorder and will require regular medication and treatments from the veterinarian. For example, my parents adopted a Cocker Spaniel puppy from the SPCA. About the time when he turned one year old, he started to limb severely and required surgeries for both of his hind legs. That surgery bill was a little over $20,000. If you can barely make all the payments with your monthly salary, you simply will not be able to hand out such a hefty payment. And sadly if you are in this position and require to give up your dog to the dog pound, he will most likely be euthanized due to his disorder.

2. Is your home suitable for dogs?

This is another very common reason why people have to abandon their dogs – their current living situation is unsuitable for their dogs. For home renters, please consult the owner before considering to get a dog. And if you live in an apartment situation, please consult the apartment management policy first. In many cases, there are weight and breed restriction policies that will prevent you from owning certain dogs. Aside from regulations, is your home suitable for the type of dog you want to own? Obviously size matters in this situation. If you live in a tiny studio, owning a Great Dane or German Shepherd will be rather chaotic. This is the case of our rescued German Shepherd; his previous owner already could not handle the puppy when he was only ten weeks old, and had to give him up.

3. How much time can you devote to your dog?

How much time can you devote yourself to training the puppy and give it sufficient attention? It is truly sad that every year many dogs have been given up simply because their owners failed to train their dogs. When puppies are not trained and cause mischief, it can be cute. But when they grow to their adult size at 10 months old and cause serious home damage, it is no longer cute and can even be downright scary for breeds that require firm discipline training. Even after all the training is done, you still need to take time every day to walk your dog to ensure it gets enough exercise to work out its energy and boredom. A bored dog full of energy can leave your home furniture destroyed to bits.

4. How well do you know the breed?

Before jumping into picking a dog, do your homework and find out everything you can about the breed first. Obviously every breed of dogs have their pros and cons. But for certain breeds of dogs such as Akitas, German Shepherds, Huskies that are highly intelligent and stubborn, they require extra obedience training and reinforcement. These breeds may not be a suitable choice for first-time dog owners. As mentioned before, some breeds of dog require more maintenance than others. If you cannot spend a lot of time grooming or you simply cannot stand constantly picking dog hair off your clothes and furniture, get a dog that shed less and has less maintenance needs.

To become a dog owner means a life time commitment to your dog. At times it may seem a lot of work, but these little guys will reward you with endless unconditional love and devotion in exchange. As a dog owner, I cannot tell you how many times my German Husky (he is a German Shepherd/Husky mix) has cheered me up when I am at my worst.

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