Should you really get a dog?
Whether you’re planning to rescue a shelter dog or knowingly support for-profit breeding, please think thoroughly before making the decision. As dogs have feelings just like you, they are NOT toys that can be tossed to the side whenever you’re done playing. Each year, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter the shelters in the U.S. alone (along with 3.2 million cats). Of the 3.3 million, 1.6 million dogs are adopted while the rest are euthanized (unless reunited with their families).
Yet these numbers skyrocket into astronomical numbers when looking at the homeless dog population worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide and this horrific number does NOT even reflect dogs living in shelters around the world. It is indisputable that the problem of dog overpopulation and homelessness is created by humans, not dogs themselves. Consistent breeding, abandonment, and irresponsible pet ownership throughout the years have directly caused hundreds of millions of dogs around the world to suffer and die each year.
With the rise of “pandemic puppies” that are allowing for-profit breeders and evil puppy mills to charge ridiculous prices to meet the demand, I fear that it’s only a matter of time until dogs will overpopulate shelters once again. I can only imagine the enormous amount of neglect, surrender, and oftentimes, abuse once the novelty wears off and the world returns to normal. Hence, before you contact the local animal shelter or drive 400 miles to visit a breeder, please don’t give in to your impulse. As dogs are ARF-mazing loyal beings who truly deserve the best, you must think thoroughly before making this life-long commitment.
Sniff out these reasons why you should NOT get a dog:
#1 You don’t see dogs as family
If you don’t see dogs as equal, irreplaceable family members, then please do NOT get a dog. It’s completely unfair for a dog to live through such misery from being perceived as merely “property” that can be easily replaced. The disturbing dog-inferior, human-superior mentality (e.g. “it’s just a dog”) consistently breeds animal abuse and cruelty around the world. Like humans, every dog is a unique individual with distinctive character and personality, even the ones of the same breed. Sure, Yorkies may share similarities but no two Yorkies are identical, not even the ones from the same litter.
#2 You believe dogs should live outside
If you refuse to let your dog live inside the house, then please do NOT bring a dog home. It’s cruel to keep a dog outside – tethered or untethered (keep in mind that tethering your dog is illegal in many states). While dogs love outdoor playtime, they should not spend the majority of their lives outside. Out of sight and out of mind, these outdoor or “backyard” dogs not only suffer from neglect but also face health risks and danger. Learn more about the cruelty behind keeping dogs outside.
#3 You plan to keep your dog inside the garage
So you think that keeping your dog inside the garage is better than keeping him or her outside? Arf, THINK AGAIN. If you plan on keeping your dog primarily inside a garage, please consider dog-proofing a room or area instead.. Due to toxic chemicals and vehicle emissions, car garages are not ideal or safe places for dogs. Besides, tools, heavy equipment, ladder, unused cords, screws, nails, etc. should not be present in any dog’s living quarters. Furthermore, extreme temperatures pose a great danger to your dog; with the garage can be as hot or as cold as the outside, nothing beats the comfort of living inside the house. Remember, dogs are family and deserve to live INSIDE the house with you.
#4 You plan to crate your dog for more than 6 to 8 hours every day
Do you really believe dogs “love” their crates? As a former crated dog, I’ll be the first to bark that dogs should never spend the majority of their lives in crates. No matter how you want to justify it, crates are cages PERIOD. If you plan on crating your dog for more than 6 to 8 hours TOPS daily, then you should NOT have a dog. Since puppies cannot “hold it” for more than 1-2 hours (if at all), they should only be crated for a few hours at most, depending on their age. Despite being a widely accepted potty training technique, crate training easily (and frequently) crosses into animal cruelty with potential detrimental effects when dogs are crated regularly for excessive hours. In countries like Sweden and Finland, crating is even illegal unless done so for temporary reasons like transportation. Besides, there are more humane, effective ways to potty train your dog WITHOUT a crate.
In both of my former homes, I spent the majority of my days locked up inside a cage a.k.a. crate for over 16-18 hours total daily in a two-car garage (think workday + overnight sleep). Now, with the third time’s the charm, I have the COMPLETE run of the house and a King bed all day, every single day. A crate life is a miserable life. Sniff out 10 Reasons NOT to Crate Your Dog.
#5 You see your dog as a “practice baby”
Don’t make any dog your “practice baby.” It’s common for young couples to give their all to furbabies (dogs and cats) until their “real” human baby arrives. In their justification, they are “practicing” how to take care of someone together; hence, the term “practice baby.” Disturbingly, such practice typically ends up in neglect and/or eventual surrender of the innocent animal when the stress of raising a human baby takes over. If you’ve ever worked with rescue organizations or shelters, you can attest that getting rid of a dog for a baby is a top reason for surrendering.
Disturbingly, my humans cannot get past another year without hearing that yet another friend has given away OR is considering giving up their dog after the arrival of a newborn. I know myself because I was also given up for that same reason. 🙁 The same ol’ reasons have tired out my ears – for instance, not having enough “time” for the dog anymore, the dog has entered into depression after the baby’s arrival, or the dog is acting “aggressive” towards the baby, etc. BTW – dogs don’t bite for no reason, but will bite out of fear, stress, anxiety, or threat. All in all, dogs are NOT placeholders for babies! As sentient loyal beings, dogs ultimately deserve more.
#6 You have obnoxious children
Of course, hardly any parent will admit that their children are obnoxious. Parents often make excuses for a child’s unruly behavior rather than attempting to correct it. Contrary to popular belief, dogs and children aren’t always a good match for one another. Many dogs, especially Yorkies, tend NOT to get along with kids. Even if you find the pawfect breed that’s supposedly good with children, you still need to teach respect and boundaries to both parties. Parents are quick to put a dog down for nipping at their child, but again, the truth is that dogs do NOT bite for no reason. Young children unknowingly or knowingly do distasteful things that dogs hate, from forcing hugs to carrying them around like a teddy bear to not knowing the proper way to pet. Although most dog bites are triggered by obnoxious kids who may or may not know any better, dogs ALWAYS bear the brunt of the punishment, which may mean getting put down in many cases. Seriously, how is that fair?? Obnoxious children who do their fair share of harassing the family dog are rarely lectured or punished as animal abuse by children is merely seen as “innocent” play. Foster a healthy relationship by recognizing 16 things that dogs hate about children and learn what to teach children about animals.
And, getting a dog to “teach children responsibility” is a TERRIBLE idea. Dogs will inevitably suffer from neglect if the parents don’t step up to the plate.
#7 You are on a tight budget
Dogs are expensive! From dog food to annual vet check-up to flea meds, having a dog is NOT cheap. Sure, you can save a few bucks by buying cheap dog food and skipping vet visits but you’re essentially jeopardizing your dog’s health (which will cost you even more in the long run). It’s heartbreaking to know that countless dogs are sent to shelters or put down simply because their humans cannot afford surgery or treatment. If you don’t have a steady income in addition to at least 6 months of emergency savings, then you should work on building up your financial stability before adding a dependent into your life.
#8 You do not have patience
Like children, dogs can be a test of your patience (but the difference is that people are much more tolerant of children than animals). And like humans, no dog is pawfect. If you know you lack patience in general, then you should reconsider getting a dog. Potty training a puppy may take more than several months of consistent training and the same with teaching house rules. Regardless of the dog’s age, it takes time to adjust to a new environment which requires A LOT of patience on your end. As dog training can take both time and money (to buy treats, work with a dog trainer, etc.), you need to be the uncomplaining, compassionate dog pawrent.
#9 You do not believe in positive reinforcement
Without a doubt, dogs learn best through positive reinforcement, which is the most humane and effective way for any type of dog behavioral training. Offer rewards through verbal praise, mouthwatering treats, and gentle strokes to demonstrate that you welcome their behavior or action while ignoring the undesired action. Please understand that there’s no “right” or “wrong” in a dog’s world. When you praise and reward the desired action (or in your eyes, “right”), your dog learns to associate the specific action with something positive. Essentially, screaming at or hitting a dog will only cause fear and confusion. Dogs don’t understand what they did was “wrong”; they simply see you going crazy and are scared to death of YOU.
Only cowards would abuse dogs (or any animal). Animal abuse is morally wrong, inherently cruel, and breeds human abuse. Not to bark, it’s also illegal in many parts of the world (although it should be illegal everywhere). If you’ve been warned about your bad temper, then please don’t bring a dog into the mix. Again, resorting to yelling, forcibly yanking (on walks), or worse, hitting is not only CRUEL but also largely ineffective – all you’re doing is confusing and scaring your dog.
#10 You don’t have “time”
Time is our most valuable commodity, and it’s the only thing that’s created equal. Everyone has 24-hours in a day. With that barked, many people tend to proclaim how “busy” they are and that they don’t “have time” to do this and that. The truth is never about having enough time – it’s about not caring enough to make something a priority. If you can’t commit to at least two, preferably three 30-minute walks (or longer, depending on the size of your dog) every single day, then please don’t get a dog. When you bring home a new dog, you should expect to devote A LOT of time during the first 6 months into training and acclimating your dog. Whether it’s an 8-week-old puppy or a 10-year-old senior dog, they will need time to transition into any new environment. Initially, they will be confused, stressed, and oftentimes, sad from being separated from their old family.
#11 Someone in your house OR close to you doesn’t like dogs
Save a dog from misery if you know ahead of time that it’ll be an uphill battle with a family member or roommate. A disapproving person in the household is another common reason why dogs end up in shelters. Therefore, I’m begging you – just don’t do it. Again, dogs should not be tossed around like toys. If you’re going to get a dog, you must recognize that it’s a lifelong commitment.
#12 You are germaphobic
Yes, dogs can be yucky furry creatures. On any single walk, dogs can pick up a myriad of mud, dirt, debris, germs, bacteria, etc. with their paws and fur. Then, they go back into the house and contaminate the floors, sofa, and bed. BUT the good news is that the overall risk of dogs transmitting diseases to humans is EXTREMELY LOW. Although some risks exist, you can easily combat them. Just make sure your dog is up to date with vaccinations and flea/tick meds, and always practice good hygiene – clean your hands before and after handling your dog. And, don’t be afraid to sleep with your dog on the same bed; it deepens the bond between the two of you and reaps big rewards. If you’re concerned with hygiene, you can always sleep under the sheets while your dog goes over the sheets with his or her own blanket. 🙂 As dogs should not be bathed every day, excessive washing or wiping your dog can lead to dry skin and irritation. Dogs aren’t for germaphobes, but it’s the germaphobes who will miss out.
#13 You want a guard dog
People who choose to get dogs to “guard” their home or property should not have dogs in the first place. Again, dogs must be treated as valuable family members and should not have to live outside to “guard” the house. The reality is that the BEST “guard dogs” live INSIDE with humans, not outside. A million reasons could cause an outdoor dog to bark, and none of the reasons may even be affiliated with a real intruder. For instance, they could bark simply because they hear another dog or random noise from a distance. Besides, tethered dogs cannot do anything to stop an intruder because they are, well, tied up. Even if dogs are not tethered in the backyard, they can be silenced with poisonous bait or weapons. Guard dogs who live inside offer the best alert of an intruder since they are safe with the family and will jump to protect as soon as they hear anything suspicious from outside.
Sadly, guard dogs usually live lonely, neglected lives outside and are subject to extreme temperatures and dangers. If your objective of having a dog is to guard your house, then please install a video surveillance/alarm system instead.
#14 You travel a lot
If you’re always traveling for work or pleasure, then you should think twice about having a dog. As dogs require a lot of attention, you must have a trustworthy dog sitter if you’re frequently away. Even though I’ve transformed into a furry world traveler, I do not necessarily recommend flying everywhere with your dog as not all destinations are dog-friendly. Also, unless you can stay longer like me and my humans (beyond the typical week-long or two vacations), you should not be hauling your dog like luggage from place to place. If not done correctly, air travel can be very stressful and even dangerous for dogs. Learn how to keep your dog safe on flights.
#15 You can barely take care of yourself
Although dogs offer phenomenal health benefits to senior citizens and sick people, they should not be under the care of those who cannot take care of themselves. If you’re going to get a dog, you should be both emotionally and physically healthy. Otherwise, the dog unjustly suffers through neglect.
#16 You cannot provide a safe home
Is your home free of hazards and potential dangers? Such dangers include but are not limited to certain living conditions, other animals, or even people who may pose a risk to your dog. If you aren’t confident in your ability to provide a safe place, then do not take the risk.
#17 You believe that taking care of a dog is easy
Yes, the positive benefits of having a furry family member are undeniable, but the truth is that not all will be rosy. Especially in the beginning, you need to invest A LOT of time, patience, and money into having a dog. You may find yourself frustrated at times, but again, do NOT take it out on your dog. As long as you don’t set unrealistic expectations from the get-go, you should be fine. The love that you pour into your dog will only return tenfold!
#18 You (or someone close to you) is allergic to dogs
If you suffer from severe allergies, you can still have a dog – well, as long as you are willing to treat your allergies. Sadly, I’ve seen many people get rid of their (and cats) because of allergies. Nonetheless, I feel that they could have kept their dogs if they were willing to make it work. Plenty of allergy treatment options are out there if they would just take time to explore them with their medical provider. With hypoallergenic dogs and increased allergy treatments available, allergy sufferers can fortunately still be great dog pawrents.
WOOF! The decision is up to you, but I sincerely hope that you think it through carefully. A dog’s life depends on it. And, don’t forget – please adopt, don’t shop!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob