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Are you ready for the Commitment?

by Melissa Gabor, Wagging Tails Dog Services


When I think of dogs, I think of unconditional love. This is why many people get a dog, and I do have to say as a long-time dog owner, I have loved every moment. And who doesn’t love puppies? They are cute, playful and loveable. However, just like children, puppies are a big commitment. It is important to really assess whether you are ready to add a puppy or dog to your family.

Lifestyle

Do you like sedate evenings and weekends or are you more up tempo? Do you enjoy walking or running? Are you fond of the great outdoors or does most of your adventure come from a great book? Certain breeds require more exercise than others. The Canadian Veterinary Association recommends most breeds be exercised 2 to 3 times daily for an hour per day. Some breeds will require more exercise, other less. You need to honestly assess this and your commitment, before you go looking for that adorable puppy. Some breeds require more space. Do you live in a house, an apartment, or on a country farm? Although small, a Jack Russell Terrier (think Eddie on Frasier) is a high energy dog that requires significant amounts of exercise and thrives with lots of space to roam. On the other hand, some of the larger breeds such as the Mastiff, are known for being docile. Some breeds are slow learners or are shy of both people and other dogs. Do you have the patience to persevere? Do you have children? Some breeds adore children, while others are quick to snap or bite. Do your research first, understand what breeds fit your lifestyle and be honest with yourself.
Sources to research breed characteristics and requirements:

  1. The American Kennel Club
  2. Dog Rescue Organizations

Time

Most breeds live 10-12 years, with some breeds living as long as 14 to 15 years (The longest verified record is for a dog living to be 24 years of age). This long term commitment will last longer than many marriages. Unlike children, dogs are perpetually two years of age and do not grow up. They rely on you for all their needs. Two thirty minute walks a day can be a big time commitment for an already busy person. Dogs are also social creatures and do not enjoy being left for long periods. For a person who is time-crunched or works long hours, this may be an overwhelming challenge. In summary, a good question to ask is: Do I truly have the time to give a puppy or dog and if not, can I honestly rely on neighbours, friends or family to assist me in meeting the dog’s needs?

Cost

Unfortunately, your new best friend will cost you more than a couple of meals of Alpo a day. A puppy can range from “free to a good home” to several thousands of dollars for some of the rarer breeds. Dog usually require a house, crate or bed; bowls for water and food, and most dogs develop a special attachment to a toy whether it is a rubber chew toy or a stuffed toy animal. Most municipalities levy a dog license fee. Veterinary care is a significant cost. Puppies and aging dogs tend to require more visits to the vet as do active outdoor dogs. A puppy will require a first or second set of shots and at the age of 6 months puppies should be spayed or neutered. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), advises that dogs not intended for breeding be neutered, so that they do not have undesired puppies that may have to later be euthanized. Neutering males reduced aggression and spayed females are less likely to develop some forms of cancer, affecting mammary glands, ovaries, and other reproductive organs. Unless you are an experienced dog owner, basic training for both you and your dog is essential as a well-mannered dog is a safe dog and a joy to spend time with. Lastly, if you work, you may need the services of a dog walker or doggy day care. High energy dogs tend to act out if they are bored or under stimulated. Young puppies cannot hold their bladders for longer than 3 to 4 hours and adult dogs should not be left for more than 8 hours.

The best suggestion I have is to really think through all the aspects of dog ownership. Try volunteering at the local pound to walk a dog. Try the shoes on before buying them.

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