The decision to adopt a dog is a big one. Whether it’s a full-grown dog or a puppy, a rescue or from a breeder’s farm, a purebred or a mixed or a hybrid, a dog will become not just a family pet but a big part of the family itself. They are, after all, incredibly intelligent, empathetic, and personable, and have a way about them that ingratiates them into any family.
Making a Match
As such, you want to make sure that not only are you getting the right dog for you, but that you are right for the dog; a peppy dog that wants to go on walks and play all the time isn’t ideal for an older couple with no children, whereas a dog that likes to sleep most of the day won’t be a great fit for a family with lots of young children.
But part of being the right owner for a dog also includes being able to care for the dog. When compared to a cat, a dog can seem relatively high-maintenance, since they often demand quite a bit of attention, but there are other ways in which a dog will only be happy and healthy with an owner who can offer the dog what it needs. Knowing what you’re getting into ahead of time will save you the inevitably frustration and disappointment that comes when some individuals bring dogs into their homes without adequately understanding what will be expected of them.
What a Dog Needs
As previously mentioned, your dog needs regular exercise. Many pets can manage their own exercise, but dogs need plenty of space in which to run, play, trot around, and generally just be a dog in. Yes, many dogs can spend most of their time indoors, but not all dogs are like this, and even those dogs that spend much of their time laying about the house need exercise regularly. Indeed, the dog may be lazing about all day because they don’t get enough exercise and playtime, leading to lethargy on their part. By giving your dog regular walks, taking them to dog parks and other natural outdoor environments, and ensuring that they have playtime every day, your dog will be healthier and happier long into their old age.
Another reason to take your dog outside is, of course, so that they can do their “business” out there – urinate and defecate, specifically. This isn’t something that just happens on its own, however; dogs need to be trained to understand where it is okay to do these things and where it is not okay. Many underestimate a dog’s intelligence, thinking that a dog can’t understand these things, but your canine companion is in fact incredibly intelligent, and quite capable of understanding that some behaviors are acceptable in your household while others are not. It is up to you to train your dog in a positive, productive, effective way to understand this, or you will be dealing with this problem for years to come.
Indeed, proper training is critical to your dog’s, and your, happiness in the relationship. Many dogs become aggressive, disobedient, and serious household menaces when not properly trained. Stories of violent Dobermans and Rottweilers are often the result of poor training and handling on the owner’s part, not any particular tendency towards violence on the part of those dogs. When you take a dog into your household, you are accepting the responsibility of shaping, molding, and guiding that dog for years to come; you’re basically having a kid! If you’re ready for the responsibility, though, then you will find that few relationships are quite as rewarding as the one between you and your dog.
+Neil Kilgore is a dog owner, dog lover and the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about puppies, breeders and dog care advice on the Greenfield Puppies website.