Should I Have A Dog As A Pet?
Posted by Ruth Graham
in Dogs

SHOULD I HAVE A DOG AS A PET?

I work from home as a copywriter, so this allows me to have a dog, spend time with her and meet her needs..  I think company and the time you have available is hugely important, when considering whether to have a dog as a pet.

At this juncture – (just in case you don’t read the whole thing) – please check out www.borrowmydoggy.com – this is a great ‘halfway’ idea that allows people who want pets, but either can’t have them, or are unsure, to be involved with a dog on a regular basis. (And it also allows people who are struggling to cope, to find help)!

There has been a spate of friends getting dogs recently – their reasons are different, but their circumstances vary vastly too. I know some of the dogs are going to have better lives than others, so if you are considering whether to go ahead – take a moment to read my thoughts below and ask yourself, honestly – Would a dog REALLY want to live with me? The most selfless approach should is one of ‘what does the dog need?’ and ‘can I supply it properly?’… Allow me to explain.

WOULD I DO IT ALL AGAIN?

Firstly – I have to admit that I love my dog. I grew up with dogs, but as with most kids, the parents end up with the bulk of the work. I’m an adult now – the work falls on me. I’ve been doing it for six relentless years, AND THERE’S NO WAY I’D DO IT AGAIN – even though I adore her!

There’s so much hidden work, and cost in having a dog, that unless your circumstances are perfect – it’s always going to involve lots of sacrifice on your part if you want it to have a good life.

So – in order of the demands… here we go.

A DOG NEEDS YOUR TIME

On every level. Initial training – if you don’t properly house train your dog – you have the issue for the rest of its life. This takes months to do, and is exhausting whilst requiring nothing but patience and kindness, as the dog will gradually respond to encouragement, not punishment

Puppy classes are a great idea – your dog will need socialising if you have a puppy – and this takes up time and energy. Week in, week out, until they’ve learnt the basics and can interact well with others.

Then there’s time for the walks.  At least one good one a day. Preferably two (according to the needs of your breed). Every day – rain or shine. Christmas day, your birthday, days you’re busy, days you have too much on and can’t be bothered and don’t feel like it. Every day!!!
They live for their outings, and quite honestly, if you  haven’t got time – you are not able to provide for their needs. Mine also consumes huge chunks of time after the walks, when I have to bath her because she’s rolled in something disgusting… sigh…

A DOG NEEDS COMPANY

They are pack animals. No dog would choose to live alone. So to isolate a dog, put it in the yard on a chain or leave it on its own for hours and hours while you’re at work is again – just cruel. If this is your dog’s fate  – please just be a good person and don’t do it.

A DOG IS EXPENSIVE

You factor in for the food. Perhaps you factor in insurance/medical bills – every healthy dog needs regular innoculations and worming. Then there’s the small things.. my small dog is bomb-proof and never ill, but has cost a fortune from small things like a thorn in a paw, conjunctivitis, blocked anal glands… on it goes…!

And how about the dog care when you’re away? Or day care if you’re at work? Or the potential damage they will cause if you get a chewer! (We had one as a child that literally ate every shoe in its path). Or if you have one that suffers from separation anxiety, they can scratch and scrabble away at doors, joists, furniture etc.

And grooming – will your dog need regular clipping or treatments?
On a personal level – I never anticipated the £400 for new fences when my puppy escaped every single day for a fortnight under the old/rickety ones. Then there’s the toys, and the leads (mine has chewed through five so far).

A DOG CAN BE DISRUPTIVE

A dog will take on the personality of the household. A calm house will produce a calm dog – and visa versa. But again – it requires training and discipline . And what if your dog is a barker? I’ve lived next door to a dog that barked and barked when it was alone. It drove me insane, and nearly came to legal action with the neighbours.

A Dog Is A Massive Tie
Bye bye spontanaiety! No more days out on the fly. No dashing off on a mini-break when you fancy. You have to make arrangements first. My dog has stopped me dating, and going away on holiday (when I couldn’t find a sitter). Quite simply – it’s a huge life adjustment. And if your child is six now and begging for a dog – remember – when they are 21 and left home – you will probably still have the animal hanging around the home!

CAN YOU COPE WITH THE DIRT?

My standards have definitely dropped. The house is never really clean, and dustballs cover the house. She sheds fur regularly and I’ve gone from constantly vacuuming and wiping down furniture to just settling for a fine film of dirt everywhere and getting on with it. Nobody has died of any disease, but I do sometimes wish my home could be pristine again. And it would smell better too!

TO SUM IT UP

This may seem like a negative blog. It’s not meant to be, but it’s absolutely realistic.

A dog will give you love and warmth and endless adoration. They’ll warm your heart and (completely) fill your home. But it comes at a cost.

If you can financially afford the dog, invest in training it, can offer it a loving home for the next 16 years, can walk it every day and give it company pretty much all the time – then do it.

If not – volunteer at a shelter, contact Borrow My Doggy or The Cinnamon Trust and dip in and out of a dog’s life, without hurting the dog or yourself.