What to Consider Before Becoming a Dog Owner

After years of asking dog owners if you can pet their pooch, you've begun to wonder if you could be a responsible dog owner. After all, millions of Americans do it. How tough could it be?

Actually, becoming a dog owner involves more consideration than you might think. You, of course, want to be a responsible dog owner, which means everything from continuously picking up poop to training to vet bills. Below are some things you might think about before making the trip to the animal shelter or breeder.

Allergies

Around 10 million people are allergic to cats but many don't realize you can be allergic to dogs, too. There's thought that certain breeds are hypo-allergenic. The truth is any dog can cause an allergy because it stems from the dander, oil, and glands of dogs. However, the following dog breeds can help lessen allergies.

Somewhat Hypo-Allergenic Breeds:

Time And Energy

Even low-maintenance dogs such as the Greyhound need time and energy from their owners. There are walks to give, feeding, cleaning up after them, grooming, training, vet visits. And, of course, petting time. Dogs give us two great gifts - devotion and unconditional love - and they hope for the same in return.

Resources

Americans spend about 41 million dollars a year on their pets. True, they pamper their pets more than others, but even the basics add up. And the older a dog gets, the more extra costs like vet bills are likely to pile up.

Some Costs Of Owning a Dog

  • Veterinary Bills: Annuals, shots, unforeseen illness
  • Food
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Grooming
  • Accessories: Leashes and collars and for some, cute doggie sweaters
  • Small Necessities: Nail clippers, brushes, supplements

Family

Obviously, you need support from family members before bringing home a puppy. It's easy to list the benefits of dog ownership, from lowered heart rates to less depression to having a protector to being able to go to the dog park and not be the strange dogless person who hangs around. There are also downsides - some dogs need a lot of training, some dogs bark a lot, some relish rolling in stinky things, and some chew up the couch. People need to be prepared to share their lives with this furry creature through the good and the bad.

Other Pets

Dogs and cats often get along. Sometimes they don't. Any pet - ferret, hamster, bird, another dog - is affected by a new dog. Be prepared to be patient as they all get to know each other. And avoid dog breeds that are prey-driven as they don't always know the difference between a rabbit and a cat.

Lifestyle

It's not as flexible to have a dog as it is some other pets. You can't suddenly jump on a plane to Rio. Someone has to be home to feed a dog dinner, let him out, and generally check up on him. If you keep late nights and early mornings, a dog will most likely feel neglected and have accidents or destroy your beloved rug.

Is It Legal?

Before planning on becoming a dog owner, you should check that your lease allows it. Even if they allow dogs, there might be size restrictions, special rules to follow, or even breed restrictions. Planned and gated communities also often have limitations. Likewise, Breed Specific Legislation is becoming more common. It can relate to cities or states or both. And it's not just for Pit Bulls.

Some Dogs That Make Most BSL Lists:

It's not all that easy to be a responsible dog owner. Many issues factor in. But the most important part is commitment: "Can you commit for life?" This, hopefully, means that your dog will be a member of the family and that you won't grow tired of him or too frustrated with him and give him up. And if you do, you are responsible to find him a good home - many dogs who are abandoned or given to a shelter never see the light of day again. By preparing for dog ownership, you help ensure a long and happy life together.

Photo by Just Chaos via Flickr Creative Commons