And with that some families are off and running and start searching the internet and purchasing a puppy or older dog without having given the realities of owning and living with a dog much thought. Many of those experiences turn out OK but some don’t; and even when they do, life could have been so much easier if some thought had been put into the decision.
We love dogs and work with many dedicated dog owners who want to have a long and happy relationship with their dog. We also see those who despite their best intentions do not consider the responsibilities of dog ownership. It’s an important decision and lifelong financial and time commitment. If you or a family member wants a dog than don’t start searching the internet pull out a pad of paper and start writing:
- Financially what can you afford? Do you have it in your budget to own a dog? Regular feeding, leash, collars, crates, beds, veterinary maintenance and the unexpected break of a bone, ingesting something, flea infestation, disease, dog walker, pet sitter and training…all can be financially draining and are part of ownership. Too many owners do not consider any of this before getting a dog.
- Do you and your family have the time and energy for a dog? If you work long hours, and are drained when you come home, are away from home often, have a busy lifestyle and travel frequently, dog ownership may not be for you.
- What are the characteristics of your family life? Are you a family who likes to cuddle and watch TV, or are you a family that loves to hike and be outdoors. Who will walk the dog, train, feed, clean up after them. Have you done any research of different breeds? Too many working breeds end up in shelters because the owners do not realize the exercise and mental stimulation that they need; they simply have heard it’s a great family dog so they buy one.
- What are the ages of your family members? Are they old enough to take responsibility of taking care of the dog? If your children wish to have a dog, arrange with another dog owner for them to care for them a few times as a pet sitter. That way they can understand the responsibilities of dog ownership. If you end up doing the pet sitting job for your children than they are not ready to have a dog.
- Training. Many people think that they can take a basic course and be done. Training is a lifelong commitment. That is your responsibility and training classes are the best way to ensure that you are keeping up. Training helps you and your dog learn and continue to be social family members. Whether the dog is a puppy or older dog training is required…it’s part of the responsibilities of owning a dog. If they don’t use it they will lose it!
- Are you making this an emotional decision? Are you replacing a dog that was wonderful? We hear too many times ‘my old dog was so good or much easier to train’. Like people, every dog is different, they will have different characteristics and temperaments. Don’t get a dog to replace that one dog that was awesome and be disappointed when your new dog is not the same. Consider it a new beginning and commitment, a lifetime of learning.
I’m Arlene, Owner of the Dog Stop. I’ve experienced dog ownership and made some of the same mistakes. I became a trainer based on my experiences. My first dog Spike was adopted at one year old. He was a great dog who did not have any training and could walk off leash with his family with no issues. He was great with my children when they came along and even became friends with my cat. Spike’s only issue was his severe fear of thunderstorms. There were many challenges: cost of replacing furniture, renovating a bathroom he locked himself into trying to escape the storm and many vet costs to try and understand how best to deal with his fear. Spike lived with us until he was fourteen.
We adopted Rocky one and a half years later at age one and a half. We got him as a rescue on an adopt-a-day. We felt he was going to be the greatest dog for the kids. That was until the day we went to pick him up. That day he was bitten by another dog. He seemed OK but when he saw another dog a day later at the Vet’s Office, that was the start of a very emotional journey of going from trainer to trainer trying to work through his issues that included being kicked out of his first class because they couldn’t control his barking. They recommended a private trainer who came to our house and spent one session advising ‘he just doesn’t know how to say hello so take him outside dog parks so he can see many dogs and learn how to say hello”. We then went through several private, semi-private and group classes with different methods including one trainer who advised that ‘you should give him up’ which was unacceptable in my mind. It was all a very unexpected financial commitment and it affected the children as well since I took him on all his walks: the children didn’t feel comfortable walking him. Thankfully we stuck with it. Rocky is now 13 and through training we have learned to manage his behaviour.
When Rocky was four and half years old I decided to adopt two and a half year old Ginger as a companion for him as he had been introduced and had a few friends that he was comfortable playing with. Ginger became my demo dog and was trained during my apprenticeship to become a dog trainer. In April 2011, at seven and a half years old, a lump on Ginger’s face turned out to be cancer that was not treatable. Ginger’s Oncologist advised that it could be as soon as two months but she was a strong dog and it wasn’t until one year later that we said goodbye to Ginger. Although she was on pain medication and lost her sight, she never complained and loved running until the end.
Kiara my current dog was purchased from a breeder at the end of May 2011 in order to become my new demo dog. Kiara was lovely, however after I opened The Dog Stop, family commitments, dealing with a dog that was ill and still having my third older dog Rocky at home meant that Kiara spent many hours in the daycare. I knew this was not ideal. Kiara is definitely my ‘Companion Velcro’ as my mentor Dave McMahon and many who have trained with her know. I will continue to work with Kiara…she’s my lifelong commitment!
We are human and we all make mistakes. We’re in business to help you with your lifelong commitment of dog ownership. We love all our dogs. Before getting a dog, puppy or older dog, take the time to get to know your responsibilities.
Owning a dog is a lifelong commitment that will give you years of joy!
At The Dog Stop we are dedicated to ensuring that you and your pet have a long and healthy relationship. We offer Walks N Wags Pet First Aid courses for Dogs and Cats. From learning how to prevent illness and injuries to dealing with bleeding, broken bones, choking, CPR/AR and so much more. We also offer Training Programs for every age and stage.