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 DogHaving 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 benefitsStudies 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 benefitsDogs, 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 benefitsOne 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 icebreakers, 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 DogHaving 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.