“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.” – Milan Kundera
|Dogs are loyal and affectionate||Owning a dog can be expensive|
|Dogs can offer protection||Dogs can be noisy|
|Dogs can help you meet new people||Dogs require proper training, exercise and stimulationt|
|Dog owners live longer||Dogs can be dangerous if not properly trained or handled|
| By adopting a dog, you can save a life|| Owning a dog may limit your flexibility in a number of ways|
Should I Get a Dog?
Getting a dog is a huge, life-altering decision that should always be preceded by thorough research. Dogs can enrich your life in many ways, but they aren’t for everyone. There are a myriad of factors to consider before deciding whether to bring a new canine family member into your home, such as your lifestyle, health, and financial situation.
And even if you’re sure that you have the perfect setup for a furry friend, the truth is that each and every dog is different and comes with their own unique quirks — some of which you might find adorable, while others may end up putting a lot of strain on your life or wallet. It’s often impossible to tell up front which issues you might face down the road with your four-legged companion, which is why it is so important to consider different scenarios and think about whether you’ll be equipped to deal with them, should they arise. To help you with this big and exciting decision, we’ve put together the most important pros and cons of owning a dog below.
THE PROS OF OWNING A DOG
Dogs are loyal and affectionate
If you’re looking for a pet that’s loving and affectionate, a dog can be a great choice. There is a special bond between humans and dogs that has evolved over thousands of years. And while it may have always been obvious to most dog owners, recent studies have proven that dogs really do love us just as much as we love them. In fact, dogs rely on humans more than they do their own kind for affection, protection and everything in between. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all dogs are the same, and that some breeds are more affectionate than others. Some dogs are not fond of being hugged or cuddled and need some personal space, even if they enjoy being close to you. So if you’re looking for a companion who will snuggle up to you on the couch and look at you with loving eyes as you scratch their belly, be sure to do some proper research and choose a breed that is known for being affectionate.
Dogs can offer protection
Dogs have been guarding people’s properties, livestock, and families for thousands of years. While not all dogs make good guard dogs, a number of breeds are known for their protective personalities, such as the Rottweiler, the German shepherd and the Bullmastiff, to name just a few. These types of dogs are particularly alert, courageous, loyal, and obedient — if trained and socialized properly. So if you’re looking for a loving companion who can also offer you an extra level of safety, a dog may be a good choice.
Dogs can help you meet new people
If you suffer from loneliness, a dog can make a great companion for you. But studies have shown that dogs also help their owners make other human-to-human connections and find social support, for example among their neighbors and other dog walkers they meet. Dogs are great ice-breakers and make it easy to start a conversation with a stranger. What’s more, they open up a whole new range of hobbies where you’ll be able to meet people, such as agility sports or dog dancing. Many dog owners also connect in obedience school over the shared challenges of training their new dogs.
Dog owners live longer
Studies have found that dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. Yes, you read that right! There are multiple reasons for this awesome benefit: Having a four-legged companion encourages you to get out of the house and exercise on a daily basis. You don’t even have to break into a sweat to feel the positive side effects — a thirty-minute brisk walk is enough to increase cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. And if you do ever have a heart attack, you’re likely to have a better recovery when your dog is there to support you. But that’s still not all. As any dog lover will be able to confirm, interacting with dogs can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. This is because petting and playing with a dog boosts your production of ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine.
By adopting a dog, you can save a life
Millions of healthy, intelligent, and kind dogs are euthanized every single year. A large percentage of these dogs are given up by their owners for reasons that have nothing to do with the dog’s behavior and are just waiting to become somebody’s new best friend. Saving a dog’s life — or any life, for that matter — is an amazing feeling that will likely last much longer than the temporary joy you may have gotten out of that perfect puppy from the expensive breeder. Puppyhood doesn’t last long and comes with its own set of challenges which first-time dog owners often underestimate. And while they may not be able to thank you with words, there are countless stories of rescued dogs who’ve shown their gratitude by being particularly loyal and affectionate towards their new owners. So if you’ve decided to bring a canine companion into your home, your next question may well be: “Should I rescue a dog?” And the answer to this question is “Yes.”
THE CONS OF OWNING A DOG
Owning a dog can be expensive
Dogs are not the cheapest pets out there. Food, toys, and equipment (such as collars, leashes, and harnesses) are just some of the ongoing costs you’ll be faced with. Dog sitters are by no means cheap, and there is no guarantee that your mother/sister/BFF will always be available to watch your dog for free. Dog schools or private trainers may put an additional dent in your budget. However, some of the biggest costs associated with owning a dog may come in the form of vet bills. Your dog will need regular vaccinations and checkups at the very least. And just like humans, dogs can fall ill, get injured, or develop serious health issues that require expensive treatments. Health insurance is generally available for dogs, but the monthly costs are not particularly low, either. So before you ask yourself ‘Should I get a dog?’ you should probably ask yourself ‘Can I afford a dog?’
Dogs can be noisy
Dogs bark. They bark to communicate, to get their owner’s attention, or to express emotions. Some dogs bark when they’re bored; some bark when they’re scared or anxious; and some bark because they’re territorial. Barking is a completely natural behavior in dogs, but if it becomes excessive, the noise can put a real strain on the owner. Of course, barking, just like other types of unwanted behavior, can be minimized with proper training, but there’s no quick fix for these types of issues. So if you’re worried about noise, either because you’re very sensitive to it or because your neighbors have the police on speed-dial, you might want to consider getting a quieter pet, such as a cat or a hamster.
Dogs require attention, exercise and stimulation
This is true even if you live in the countryside and your dog has access to a beautiful big yard, and it is all the more important if you live in an apartment in the city. Your dog deserves their daily dose of attention, exercise, and stimulation. If you’re not prepared to take your dog on multiple walks per day (no matter the weather!) and provide him or her with mental stimulation as well as affection, you’re probably not dog-owner material. Keep in mind, making sure your dog’s needs are met is not only in the dog’s best interest, but also in yours. A bored or lonely dog may act out by chewing on furniture, shredding pillows, peeing in your bed, or barking excessively.
Dogs can be dangerous if not trained or handled properly
Whether you buy a puppy from a respected breeder or adopt a rescue from the shelter (we hope it’s the latter!), your dog will need to be socialized and trained in order to become a safe, reliable companion. A lack of training, bad experiences, or poor handling can lead a dog to act in ways that are dangerous to other dogs, yourself, and the people around you. Too many healthy dogs are put down each year because owners simply misjudged their ability to handle them properly. You are fully responsible and liable for any damage or injuries your dog may cause, and this responsibility must not be taken likely. If you’re not willing or able to put in the time, effort, money, and patience it takes to train a dog, you should consider getting a different kind of pet.
Owning a dog may limit your flexibility in a number of ways
Should I get a dog? Well, not if you want to live in that beautiful apartment with the no-dogs policy. There are a lot of places where dogs aren’t welcome or where you won’t be able to take your dog for other reasons. Dogs aren’t allowed in a lot of stores, hotels, offices, and apartment buildings. Many dog owners are also faced with difficult decisions when it comes to their career. What if you have a chance at a great new job, but it requires you to travel a lot? Who will take care of your dog then?
What about spontaneous weekend getaways? If you’re just going hiking in the woods, your dog can come, too. But if you enjoy flying to other cities, staying in cute boutique hotels, and lounging at the pool bar, chances are you’ll have to find (and pay for) a dog sitter each time.
Want to go to the cinema after work? Keep in mind: Your dog is waiting for you at home and looking forward not only to food but to spending some quality time with you. Will you have time to give your dog the attention he or she deserves before the movie starts?
If you want to own a dog, you have to be okay with dirt
Slobber. Mud. Hair. Dogs are animals, and even the smallest dog will bring a certain amount of dirt into your home. So, if you’re considering getting a dog, ask yourself honestly whether you will be okay with dirt, or if you are willing to put the extra time into keeping your living space clean. Depending on the breed you choose, your dog may shed large amounts of hair throughout the whole year. Breeds such as labradors are also notorious for jumping into every mud puddle they encounter. Be prepared to wipe off paws after every single walk, brush your dog multiple times per week, and vacuum your floors on a daily basis. Don’t forget, in many areas you also have to pick up after your dog. Sure, you’ll get to use a plastic baggy to do this, but if the thought of grabbing a big, warm, stinking pile of dog poop twice a day makes you gag, you might want to look into getting a hamster instead.
Not everyone might love your dog
Dog owners often love their dogs like their own children and can’t imagine that anybody else might feel differently. But the truth is that not everybody is a ‘dog person’. Some people don’t like dogs; some are scared of dogs; others are allergic to them. Some people like dogs but wouldn’t want to live with one due to the dirt they constantly bring into the house.
So when you’re thinking about getting a dog, ask yourself this: What if I meet the love of my life tomorrow, but he or she hates dogs?
Or worse: What if you have a child and the dog displays concerning behaviors towards the child?
None of these What-ifs are meant to discourage you from getting a dog, but it’s important to realize that you might not be the only one affected by this decision down the line, and that the decision you make may potentially impact your relationships with other humans. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow. But dogs can live for many years (10 to 13 on average, though some breeds can live for up to 18 years), and a lot of things can change during their lifespan.