couple walking their dog

Important factors of Dog Ownership

What are the important factors of dog ownership we should consider?

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a dog. Taking on a dog is a serious and lifetime commitment and if you have not considered these factors then you are not ready to introduce a dog to your home and lifestyle.

What are the important factors of dog ownership, well in the first instance we should all consider when buying or adopting a family dog is the financial commitment that comes with that decision.  Not only do you need to consider the initial outlay of buying/adopting any dog, you also have to calculate the long term cost.

Dogs today are living longer, with the average dog reaching the age of seventeen. Bearing this in mind, you should seriously consider whether you can afford the vets bills, food, insurance, beds, toys, regular grooming, holiday care and all the other expenses you will have over that seventeen plus years.

This next question may seem a small factor but it is a very important one, is the dog going to live inside the house or is it going to be kennelled outside?

If it is going to live inside you need to have a designated area for the dog bed or cage. Only let the dog sleep on your bed or in the bedroom if this is a habit that you are prepared to continue. With some dogs this may lead to resource guarding therefore you need to set some boundaries, such as by invite only.  If the dog is to be kennelled outside then you need a secure kennel and run that is big enough to accommodate the size of dog (at adulthood) allowing him/her to stretch and walk around comfortably.  The kennel and enclosure should be positioned such that it will not cause disturbance to neighbours.

Some people do not take into account when they buy/adopt a dog the time commitment they need to make on a daily basis. As a pup your dog will need to relieve itself every hour so at the beginning you need to be there for them. Once they reach adulthood, ideally they should not be left without a toilet break for longer than 6 hours.

On the basis that you work during the day, an adult dog needs to be walked for a least an hour every night plus a quick walk in the morning, typically 30 minutes. Training needs to be considered, you should make the time to set aside 20 minutes a day plus an hour a week if you are going to classes. Your dog needs you to spend time with them after all that is really why we take on a dog, if we have not got that time we should not even consider taking them into our family.

When choosing a dog for your family you should consider their age, size and energy levels.  You should also consider your own age, health and fitness levels. If you are in your very senior years you should maybe ask yourself, am I right to take on a puppy?  Who will take care of my dog should they out live me?

As pups, all dogs look cute and cuddly however fully grown it may be a completely different situation. If you live in a small one-bedroom house or flat you should not consider a large breed of dog like a Great Dane you would be better with something like a Cavalier King Charles or a terrier size dog. If you have a large house with large gardens you can consider the larger breeds as a family dog.

The last thing to consider, is what breed is right for you and are you going to have the new addition from a pup or will you re-home an adult dog. All dogs are of different natures and have different temperaments.

Please also ensure you know the difference between working lines and those that are bred purely as companion dogs. Some lines are more suited to a home where they will have a job to do.

If you buy a dog as a Puppy and guide and socialise it correctly it should not really make any difference what their initial temperament is, however you should carefully consider the nature of the dog if you are taking on an adult. Some dogs naturally have an aversion to other dogs; some dogs are independent minded and not the easiest to train like a Beagle or a Husky.

People with allergies should be careful when choosing a dog, as there are a lot of breeds that constantly shed hair. There are now new cross-breeds being bred that are aimed especially for people with allergies.

If you are going to rescue a dog you need to be careful you are not taking on one with behavioural problems that you are ill equipped to handle.  If you decide you are up for the challenge of behavioural issues, you should be prepared to invest in the services of a professional behaviourist and to continue with those services until a satisfactory situation is reached.

If there is any sign of problems, unless you are willing to work with that dog or you know the dog’s background, you should not purchase/rescue it.  If you have children and where there is limited background information available for that dog, you must consider all the possible implications of bringing a new dog home.  This is the reason responsible rescue organisations have rules about re-homing where there are children in the home or regularly visiting the home.

There are so many factors to consider when looking at buying a family pet. To quote the PDSA and Dogs Trust “A dog is for life not just for Christmas”. If more people stopped and considered all the above factors there would be fewer dogs finding themselves in rescue centres, and for the not so lucky destroyed each year.