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Should I Get A Dog? What To Consider Before Getting A Canine

adorable adult kooikerhondje dog

Pets are not human babies, yet the decision to get a dog is a huge one nonetheless. Bringing a pup into your home can significantly improve your life and give you a sense of fulfillment. However, dogs require a great deal of time, attention, and patience, so this decision should never be taken lightly. 

 

Unfortunately, many people decide to get a dog without thinking it through. As a result, far too many puppies and dogs end up in shelters. Part of being a responsible dog owner is about understanding the necessity to tailor your lifestyle to the needs of your new furry friend. So, if you’re wondering, “should I get a dog” read on before making your final decision.

Benefits Of Having A Dog

Having a dog can improve your health and wellbeing in many ways. Canines can make us feel safer, more relaxed, and generally happier and more fulfilled. Here are some of the top benefits of having a dog.

Mental health benefits

Studies have shown that having a dog is good for your mental health, such as reducing stress, managing anxiety, and combating feelings of loneliness. In addition, canines are known as “man’s best friend” as they form a unique relationship with us. 

 

According to research, dogs are sensitive to their owners’ emotional states and social gestures. They can also communicate with them using more complex cues than other pets. As a result, they form life-long loyal relationships with their guardians, offering support in stressful situations or periods of anxiety and depression.

 

While having a pet dog can reduce everyday stress and anxiety, service dogs (specially trained therapy dogs) can help with a broader range of mental health conditions, including some complex ones. For example, assistance dogs can help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia.

Physical health benefits

Dogs, especially young pups, require lots of exercise and playtime, so you will undoubtedly notice your fitness levels increase when you get a dog. Dogs require at least two walks a day, but the duration will depend on their age and breed. Most dogs need 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity each day.

 

High energy breeds, like Terriers, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers, will require more frequent walks. Therefore, when getting a puppy, research the breed and ensure you choose one that will match your lifestyle and activity levels. 

 

Even if you opt for a breed with lower energy levels, such as a Great Dane or Newfoundland, a short walk in the fresh air every day will still do wonders for your health. Exercising in nature, including gentle walks, is scientifically proven to boost your mood and energy and burn calories to assist in weight loss.

 

Daily exercise is also great for heart health. For example, daily walks with your pup could help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lower high blood pressure levels. 

The benefits to your physical health are not only related to taking your dog out for walks and exercise. Service dogs are trained to assist their human companions with various medical conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes. 

 

Service dogs can assist someone having a seizure in various ways, such as lying next to them to prevent injury and staying with them to provide comfort and support. Service dogs can also assist blind people in carrying out their day-to-day activities and thus, improve their quality of life.

Social life benefits

One of the less obvious benefits of getting a puppy is that they make you more social. Taking your pup on daily walks helps you get out more and increases your chance of meeting others. 

 

People love seeing dogs in the street, so one thing you will notice is people stopping to greet your dog and chat. If you take the same walking routes, you’ll also bump into other dog owners regularly and will get to know them over time. Dogs are great ice breakers, so if you feel you lack social interaction, you’ll find this to be one of the most significant benefits of having a dog.


Becoming a dog guardian will open up the possibility of attending various social events, too, aside from dog walking. For example, many cities have dog clubs where you can meet up with other dog owners. This is a great way to give your dog some canine playtime and meet other like-minded individuals.

Disadvantages Of Owning A Dog

Having a dog is fabulous for all the reasons listed above. However, taking care of a pet can also be stressful, worrisome, time-consuming, and, let’s not forget, expensive! So let’s discuss the negative side of what to know before getting a dog.

 

  • Owning a dog is expensive – Dogs have big appetites, and high-quality dog food is not cheap. Then aside from toys, beds, and other accessories, veterinary expenses for canines can be extremely high. Pet insurance may cover some costs, but vaccinations and sterilization will still set you back quite a bit. Then there’s the cost of training sessions, boarding, doggie day-care, etc.
  • You will need to train them – Your new dog will not arrive as the perfect pet. Whether you get a puppy from a breeder or an older dog from a shelter, you will need to train them or pay someone to do it for you. Training your dog is non-negotiable, as avoiding it will likely lead to behavioral issues.
  • Dogs can be loud and annoying – No dog is an angel, and even well-trained pups can have annoying moments where they bark loudly or act up. So, if you like to live a quiet, stress-free life, this is something you should consider when deciding “should I get a dog?”
  • You will lose your freedom – Dogs can be very needy and suffer from separation anxiety, making it difficult for you to go out without them. One of the most significant lifestyle changes that come with getting a dog is not being able to spend entire days out of the house or take spontaneous overnight trips. 
  • Having a dog will test your patience – Teaching a dog house rules takes time. Training can be difficult if you get an older dog, as they will likely be set in their ways. However, puppies require house training, which is not instant. Therefore, you’ll need to be forgiving of their mistakes while they are learning. 
  • Having a dog makes traveling and vacations complicated – If you love to travel, you’ll need to think about how having a dog will impact your lifestyle. Luckily, most dogs enjoy travel, so bringing your pup is an option if you are traveling within the country. However, if you want to take a month-long vacation overseas, figuring out dog care while you are away will make your trip planning more tricky.

Things To Consider Before Getting A Dog

Every dog is unique so if you decide you are ready to get a dog, take some time to research beforehand rather than getting the first one you come across. Your home, lifestyle, work schedule, and personality all play a role in what type of dog you will enjoy the most. Here are the most important things to consider.

Breed

AKC (American Kennel Club) recognizes over 190 breeds, all of which have unique personality traits. Finding the right breed will depend on your desired size, energy levels, aesthetics, and personality.

 

For example, a high-energy breed like an Australian Shepherd may not suit you if you don’t have the time or energy to take it out for walks. Likewise, a large dog is not ideal if you live in a small apartment

Age

Many people choose to get a puppy to watch it grow up and mold its behavior. However, puppies have incredibly high energy and require a lot of patience when house training. If you want a calmer canine, you may want to consider getting an adult or senior dog instead. However, if you have other pets in the home, socializing an adult dog may prove more complicated than a puppy.

Your home environment

The type of home you have plays a significant role in what dog is best for you. For example, choosing a small, low-energy breed is best if you live in an apartment or a small house without a garden. However, if you have an ample, enclosed outdoor space, you can consider a large, working breed that loves being outside. 

 

Choosing the right dog for your home is essential. For example, keeping a large energetic dog in an apartment may lead to ​​destructive behavior due to boredom and frustration. Moreover, if you decide to get a puppy, be sure to puppy-proof your home to prevent injury and ensure they do not escape.

Other household members

Along with the type of home you have, consider the other people who live with you. Some dogs do particularly well with children, such as Labrador Retrievers. Still, regardless of the breed, all dogs need to be properly socialized. Additional caution is required if you have other small pets like cats or rabbits. If this is the case, avoid hunting or herding dogs like Border Collies and Afghan Hounds, as they have a high prey drive.

Your schedule

Many dog breeds do not do well alone and suffer from separation anxiety. Therefore, if you work long hours and there is no one else at home, choose a more independent dog, like a Greyhound or Basset Hound. 

 

Remember that there is no breed standard though. Even if a particular breed is said to be calm or easy to manage, all dogs have unique personalities. Therefore, you should only get a dog if you can give it ample attention and socialization.

Costs

As previously mentioned, dogs can be costly. However, a dog’s size, breed, and age can determine the estimated costs. For example, larger dogs tend to require more food and medication dosages. Moreover, certain breeds have more health dispositions than others, and older dogs are more at risk of illness.

 

In addition, the grooming needs of dogs can differ significantly; some pups require minimal at-home grooming, whereas others need regular visits to a professional groomer. Lastly, dogs, especially puppies, can be destructive in the house and may chew on furniture or pee on the carpet, so take in potential damage and puppy-proofing costs. This is important if you rent your home, as this could impact getting your deposit back!

How To Get A Dog?

If you’re wondering how to get a dog, the two main options are adopting one from a shelter or rescue center or buying one.

Adopting a dog

With over 3.1 million dogs entering animal shelters in the United States each year, adopting rather than buying is morally the best decision. Out of these 3.1 million canines, it is estimated that 390,000 are euthanized, usually because of lack of space. Therefore, by adopting a dog, you are not only giving a pup a better life; you could literally be saving it.

 

Shelters usually have dogs of all sizes and ages, including puppies. Plus, as many dogs end up in shelters as they are surrendered by their owners, there is a selection of breeds.

Buying a dog

Some people prefer to buy a dog because they desire a specific breed or want to raise a canine from a puppy. However, it’s essential to ensure you buy from a reputable breeder where the breeding dogs and puppies are kept in good condition. 

 

Avoid pet stores as these animals often come from puppy mills where animals are sick and mistreated. Moreover, research the breeder beforehand, and don’t buy without visiting the premises and seeing the puppy first. 

 

Responsible breeders will have no problem with you visiting before buying and will happily show you proof of their pedigree status and health checks. However, if you come across an unethical breeder that keeps puppies in poor condition, resist the urge to buy one to “rescue” them. Any money you give them will contribute to keeping the puppy mill running, so report the breeder to your local animal control authorities instead.

Final Thoughts

Dogs have the power to change our lives for the better. They give us feelings of love, loyalty, and purpose and greatly benefit our health and well-being. However, getting a dog for the first time is no walk in the park, so be sure to fully understand the pros and cons before committing.

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