are you ready for a dog?
do you think about when you picture your life with a dog?
Games of fetch in the backyard, long walks in the country,
lazy afternoons snuggled together on the couch? Maybe you
want a friend for your children, a guardian for your home,
or an athlete to train for and compete in AKC events. Or maybe
you just like the idea of sharing your life with a devoted
companion animal. A dog can be all those things, and more.
But before you bring a dog home, you also need to picture
this: Veterinarian bills for routine vaccinations, checkups,
illnesses and injuries. Housetraining, and the accidents that
happen before training is complete. Losing your best shoes
to chewing and your best rosebush to digging. Barking when
you're trying to sleep, begging when you're trying to eat.
Dogs do all these things too, and unless you're prepared for
that reality, you're not ready for a dog.
Remember that owning a dog is a lifelong commitment with
a variety of responsibilities; if you cannot meet those responsibilities,
neither you or your dog will be happy. Consider the following
list carefully, and honestly evaluate your lifestyle, your
home, and your pocketbook before you decide that you really
want a dog.
In addition to your dog's meals, you'll want to supply occasional
healthy treats. You may need to feed a special diet for puppies,
allergies, weight management, illnesses, older dogs.You'll
need to train your dog not to beg for people food, and your
family not to give in to those pleading puppy eyes.
indoor dogs, you'll need a crate or other confined area to
protect the dog and your belongings at night or when you're
away. You'll want to keep a supply of carpent cleaner on hand,
and provide a bed or mat. Gates to keep the dog out of certain
rooms can also be helpful.
Outdoor dogs must have a fenced yard or kennel run. They
will need a sheltered spot so they can stay out of the heat
in summer, the cold in winter, and the rain. You'll need to
install creative fencing to protect your garden, and to protect
the dog from toxic plants. You will probably have to do some
obedience training to prevent nuisance barking. You'll need
a pooper-scooper to keep your yard clean.
Fresh water must be available at all times.
Your dog will need a couple of daily walks or romps in the
yard. You'll have to provide a leash, a pooper-scooper, and
balls or flying discs to play with. You'll need an umbrella,
and dog sweaters or booties for small or delicate dogs in
Housetraining is first. A crate is useful, but stock up on
carpet cleaner and deodorizer and some puppy training pads.
Teaching basic good manners requires time and dedication.
You may want to join a Puppy or CGC class. Advanced classes
or behavioral training may be required for more difficult
or spirited dogs.
You must be prepared to control your dog's behavior at home,
with guests, in the park, around the neighborhood, at the
vet's office--at all times.
Your dog will need regular checkups, vaccinations and dental
care. You must also be prepared to care for your dog during
illnesses or after accidents--such as a sprain, a torn paw
pad, consumption of a stuffed animal, or poisoning. Some dogs
develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, or hip
dysplasia; older dogs also require additional care.
You'll need equipment such as a tub, brush, comb, shaver
or nail clippers. Dogs with profuse or sculpted coats may
require professional grooming.
can give your dog safe stuffed and rubber toys, bones, balls
and other chewies. You'll need to train the dog to distinguish
its toys from your possessions.
Your dog needs your attention when you're home, and a secure
place to stay when you're away.
Some dogs require training to alleviate separation anxiety
in their owner's absence.
You'll need a petsitter or a good boarding kennel if you
go away for an extended period of time.
Your dog won't apologize for having housetraining accidents,
for digging, for barking, for chewing--for being a dog. You'll
have to forgive him his "mistakes" anyway.
Don't worry. You'll get it all back.
> Are you ready for a dog?