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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Things to consider before you get a dog

This is an edited extract from Eat, Play, Love (your dog) by Lara Shannon, published by Hardie Grant Books $29.99 and is available where all good books are sold.

Do your homework

Whether you are getting a new puppy or adopting a rescue dog, you need to do your homework:

  • Research the common traits/temperament of the breed you are thinking about.
  • What are their common health issues and dietary considerations?
  • Do they have specific exercise needs – mental and physical?
  • If you are looking to rescue, ask about and ensure you understand any behaviour issues a particular dog may have. Are you equipped and prepared to put in the time and money that may be required for training and veterinary care, particularly for any fear and anxiety, aggression, phobias or health issues they may have?

Things to consider

  • Do you have young kids or are you planning to have children in the future?
  • If so, is the breed, size and temperament suitable for babies, toddlers, children?
  • Will a dog get the attention/exercise they need once kids come along? Behaviour issues can often develop when a dog is relegated to the backyard once a new baby arrives, which can lead to resentment and a negative association with the baby.
  • Are you able and prepared to do the work required to ensure a smooth introduction, and continue showing your dog the love and positive reinforcement it requires to ensure harmony in a household with dogs and children?

Lifestyle

  • Will everyone in your household be out at work all day leaving them home alone?
  • Do you have an active or sedentary lifestyle? How would this impact on your dog’s need for daily exercise? Would they join you on your sporting endeavours and is this appropriate for the breed, age, etc.?
  • Do you go away on holidays or are you out a lot? If the answer is yes, are you prepared to take them with you?

Home environment

  • How much room/exercise does the breed need and does your home environment cater for this?
  • Do you have a backyard or live in an apartment and is this suitable for the dog/breed you are considering?
  • Does it provide adequate shelter and safety?
  • Do you rent – what if you move? You might be in a place that accepts pets now, but what are your options if you have to move and can’t take them with you? Do you have family that they are happy with that can help or would you have to surrender them?

Finances

The average life of a dog is 10 years, but many small or medium dogs live much longer, costing on average $25,000 over their lifetime in Australia.

  • Can you afford to provide your dog, particularly a large breed or multiple dogs, with the quality diet required to help ensure they have the best chance of good health and behaviour?
  • Dogs need monthly flea/treatments, annual vaccinations, regular grooming and other health care so are you able to afford to provide these now, and what position would you be in should your work or family circumstances change and impact on your financial circumstances?
  • Can you afford the money and time to do dog training and socialisation with a puppy, older or rescue dog?

Emotional time and effort

  • Are you prepared to do the training and socialisation dogs need as a puppy, as well as the ongoing training for adult dogs to help curb any behaviour issues?
  • Will you provide them with the daily environmental enrichment they need for their age and breed?
  • Are you able/willing to provide your dog with the level of human interaction dogs need and invest the time to create a bond that helps to develop mutual trust and respect?

Dogs need human company, daily play, training and socialisation, human company and interactions, and much more to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Does your lifestyle really suit having a dog right now and in the long term?

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