So, you'd like to own a dog . . .
PUBLISHED: 11:55 30 December 2014 | UPDATED: 11:55 30 December 2014
Sophia Taylor of On the Scent training offers advice to anyone thinking about getting a dog
People decide to get a dog for all sorts of reasons – companionship, exercise, for work, or simply because they were brought up with dogs as a child and want to embark on the dog ownership journey themselves.
Journey? I hear you ask. Owning a dog is a journey, from making the decision to be a dog owner, to researching the different types of dogs available, to bringing the dog home and starting your new life together.
Newspapers, the internet, veterinary surgeries and even pet shops advertise all sorts of puppies and dogs for sale. It’s a minefield as to which one to choose.
So, ask yourself some serious questions before taking on a dog.
What sort of dog is best for me?
It’s very important to research the breed or mixed breed you would like. It’s always a good idea even when taking on a mixed breed to research the individual breeds in the mix. This will give you an idea of what their temperament, coat type and more.
There are large, medium and small dogs, and even tea cup sized breeds, some of which are more demanding in time, money and care than others.
For example, a German short-haired pointer will need more exercise and mental stimulation than a Lhasa Apso, and the pointer is better suited to country living. The Lhasa will need less exercise and mental stimulation, but it will require more grooming as it has a long thick coat. Do your research and chat to people involved with the breed. Ask for the negatives as well as the positives.
How much does it cost to look after a dog?
Re-homing or buying a puppy is only the start of it. There is dog bedding, leads, collar, name tag (required by law), micro-chipping and/or ear tattoo, pet insurance, vet fees, including neutering or spaying, inoculations and annual boosters, kennel fees or home sitter, food, dishes, toys, car harness, dog guard or crate for travelling, dog training classes . . .
What sort of time commitment are we talking about?
Regardless of breed, all dogs need to be trained in good manners and life skills. As an owner you owe this to your dog. So, find a good training school in your area, ideally before you collect your dog, and make time to go to classes, preferably for the first two years of the dog’s life as they are still going through many developmental changes.
How much exercise will a dog need?
Your dog will need mental as well as physical stimulation and leaving it alone to its own devices for long periods is unkind and irresponsible.
Dogs are re-homed for a variety of reasons – owners move abroad, or there’s a new baby in the family – but sadly, quite a few are re-homed because the owner didn’t research the type of dog they have taken on, as well as the time and commitment needed to give the dog the life it deserves. They find they simply can’t cope with the demands of owning that particular dog.
That said, if you would still like to join the millions of people worldwide who own a dog then welcome to one of the most exciting times in your life. Dogs bring joy, laughter and lots of fun to a family and people living alone, as well as the opportunity to meet like-minded people. And they are great ‘time wasters’!