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Benefits and Downsides of Owning a Dog
Owning a dog has many benefits, but it is also very important to remember that it is long-term commitment and responsibility. Dogs are not toys that can be put away in a cupboard when you are bored with them. If you are considering taking on a puppy, perhaps you should ask yourself these questions first:
Owning a dog can be very expensive and this should be taken into account before buying a puppy. Costs to consider are the weekly food bill, bedding, toys and other equipment, veterinary care, boarding kennel fees, enrollment fees for training classes, grooming/clipping fees.
Dogs demand a lot of time and attention, particularly as puppies. You will need to take your puppy outside hourly. Puppies have very weak bladder control and will need to relieve themselves at least twelve times throughout the day. There is a fairly set pattern.
Choose a breed that will suit you and your lifestyle. The lifespan of a dog is thirteen years. Are your current circumstances likely to change? If so, will owning a dog be a problem, such as starting a family or going to another country?
Will you be able to devote a lot of time to your puppy for the first few weeks when he arrives home? Are you going to be away from home for long hours during the day? If so, it may be unwise to buy a puppy. Do you go away frequently? If so, will you be able to take the dog with you? Will you have time to attend training classes? Will you be able to take him for at least one good walk a day?
The next step is to consider what type of breed will suit you, think about your lifestyle, size of home, facilities for exercise and time available. Does your tenancy or leasehold agreement allow pets? Ask about different breeds at your local vet or dog training club. As other owners of the breed that you are considering, for their advice and opinions. Meet dogs of all ages and both sexes of your chosen breed. This will give you an idea of what to expect. Research the breed by reading books and gain as much information as possible. When you have made your choice of breed, contact the breed club secretary through your local Kennel Club. Insist on seeing the mother and if possible the father with the puppies. You should have easy access to the puppies and be able to handle them. Request a written agreement that the purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your veterinary surgeon within 48 hours of purchase. If you are unsure about buying the right puppy, make enquires with the local vet to see if he is willing to attend the viewing to check the puppy for visible health - problems this could save money and heartache in the long-term.
As quoted by the RSPCA and National Canine Defence League " Never buy a dog from a pet shop or any retail outlet . Never take one from street markets, or from any place where you cannot see the mother." Visit your local Animal Rescue Society for advice and to discuss the options of adopting a rescue dog or puppy. All Animal Rescue Shelters are obligated to furnish you with a signed Veterinary Health Certificate.
Like humans, dogs need company, so do not leave him alone all day. Dogs that become lonely and bored are more likely to bark and become destructive. If you really care for your dog you will train him properly and learn that play is one of the most essential ingredients in a good owner.
In an ideal world every puppy would have a suitable home to go to and a caring owner. Sadly this is not the case. Many thousands of unwanted and abandoned puppies and dogs are destroyed each year. Neutering in the only guaranteed way of preventing unplanned puppies being born, if you consider the horrific alternative methods of population control for dogs, it really is the kindest cut.David the Dogman
Author of David the Dogman's A-Z Guide to Dogs ISBN 8489954089 also available via http://www.thedogman.net.