To Dog or not to Dog?
To Dog or not to Dog, if that is your question, you have landed yourself in a pretty good space. I have been raised with a pet dog in the house since childhood and that was the reason I wanted a dog when I moved out because nothing else can simply match up to their level of affection and company. While having a pet in the house is easy when you live with a family in your own independent house, it gets a little tricky when you stay alone or have a partner who is working too. In today's world when most of us are craving for solitude a dog is the best company we could ask for and that is probably the reason many of us are looking to adopt one.
Who will take care of the dog when I am at work? Will the dog feel lonely at home, alone? How easy is it to be a dog parent? How will I train? How different life would be if I have a dog? If these are the questions coming into mind, let me tell you, been there thought those. I suppose I can answer some of these questions in an unbiased manner since I have been a dog mom for almost two years now. You can obviously comment/ping me for more personal questions.
Should I get a dog?
If you are a working professional this is the first question that might come to your mind. Should you get a dog or not, it purely depends on the nature of your job. The ideal scenario is if you are a freelancer or someone who works from home most of the time. The second best option is if your work location is in the close proximity of your home, making it easier for you to check back in during lunch or other breaks. My work was located at a 10-minute distance when I got my pup, I could come between the day to check back on him, which made it really easy. Another option you can consider is to have someone, a friend/trustworthy person check on your pup during the day. Ensure that you really really trust the person, as dogs can't speak, hence you will have to take the person's word! However, if your work involves a great amount of traveling, or you are away for more than 7-8 hours a day, it wouldn't be a good idea to get a dog. Dogs need their hooman!
Two is better than one.
Dogs feel the happiest when they have company and that is why if you are a working professional it is better to get two dogs instead of one. They keep each other busy and tired and you have lesser guilt as well. Get a camera to monitor them. Mind you the notorious activities also increase by 2X and it might be challenging in the beginning to manage. From the cost perspective it is manageable and totally depends on the breed you have. A few things to keep in mind while getting two dogs is that the breed should be compatible (one dominant and the other submissive works the best), six months age gap works best, and if they are opposite genders get them spayed.
Since you have a dog now who totally depends on you for everything, you must ensure to give them proper and long walks/exercise. This might require some lifestyle changes from your end. Dogs like waking up early and need to be taken out for walks (at least twice), so if you like to sleep till 12 in the afternoon, this should change. You might have to give up on going out much, especially to the places where your best friend can't accompany you (if you are already at work for long and then come and storm out for drinks, leaving your buddy home alone again, you are certainly not an ideal dog parent). Your friends who don't like dogs should reconsider visiting your place, as once the dog comes in, the house is his, you just live there!
Renting an apartment is not easy with a dog. Most of the owners do not agree and even if they do, there are lots of terms and conditions around it. I have had a really troubling landlord who was not ready to re-pay my deposit and forced to buy all his furniture because I had a dog (mind you nothing was written in the rental agreement about not having a pet and he knew from the beginning that I have one, but he was a money-hungry asshole). Societies might have their own rules and regulations for dog-parents to adhere too. Getting them trained to not bark in distress or separation anxiety and leash training becomes important too. So yes, it gets a little complicated. Also, you will surely encounter people in your neighborhood who are not fond of pets who might raise concerns/issues pointlessly, be prepared for such things. All this used to bother me initially, now I am deaf to such people. Also restricting pets in societies is illegal, know your rights as a pet parent.
Dogs are destructive, especially when they are teething. Some breeds like GSD, Labradors have an affinity towards chewing all their life. Ensure to get a proper teether, toy, and treats for them. Dog-Proof the apartment as much as possible or be ready to see your favorite things torn. Even after taking the utmost precautions, there might be incidents that might not be the ideal ones. Be mentally prepared to deal with such damages. A kong toy works best for heavy chewers. Dip teethers in chicken stock, apply peanut butter to lure them. They also need brain exercise (kong toys for this too). A bored dog is a dangerous one!
If you are a wanderlust person, who travels often, it is better to not get a pooch unless you can take them with you. There are kennels and home boardings but even the best of them are not so great to leave your dog frequently. Also, the decent ones are costly and there is no question of leaving your furry in a mediocre one. Remember how your dog can't speak and hence you need to be very careful with the people you leave him with.
This is something we have to think through before getting a dog. Having a dog does cost some amount of money if you want to keep them healthy and happy. You have to take care of their food, vet visits, and grooming. It would be better to check with a dog parent who has a similar breed as you are planning to get, to get an estimate. Kennel costs when you are out of town should also be kept in mind.
This is every dog-parents worst nightmare! Puppies take time to adjusts and learn potty habits. Do not expect them to be a pro in a month or two. Read up on how to train them to do their business outside, but do not over-expect. Each dog is different and each has their own ability of learning. Have faith and patience and be ready with a mop!
Do not get a dog...
If you just find them cute but have never done a good deal of research. Do not get any breed because you like them, read about their temperaments, and then make a decision. Some breeds find separation anxiety very painful and get depressed, some are not meant to be apartment dogs, some need much more patience, some require more discipline and training. Do not get a dog just because your friend has one, understand first if you will be able to take care of one or not. I know some people who just want to get a dog for pictures and Instagram and because they find them 'cute', so please back off if that is all you are looking for. Do not get a dog if you like to go out and party every alternate day. Do not get a dog if you do not have the patience to give them time to adjust. Do not get a dog if you are extra sensitive to dog hair, and can't stand your house getting dirty.
Get one if you think you are ready to be responsible enough to take care of another life form. You want it or not, they become a liability like an infant and need utmost care (of course if you wanna raise them well). Dogs are not gifts, please do not gift a puppy to your partner or parents unless you are hundred percent sure they can be dog parents. A lot of things would change around you and you might have to make changes to your lifestyle, but remember that their love is constant and it never changes! Make a wise decision, as someone who will be totally dependant on you for his entire life would expect no less.
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