- Don’t get a dog because you need a babysitter for your child or because you think the dog will teach your child responsibility. The dog is YOUR responsibility and no matter what your intentions were, you’ll likely ALWAYS be the primary caretaker, the one responsible for getting up with it in the mornings, exercising it regularly, cleaning up after it and making sure it’s needs are met. Children want dogs for fun. They aren’t responsible for themselves yet and this is why you’re called the parent. Don’t buy into the begging, pleading, crying and guilt children toss at you to get what they want. They are not capable of providing a dog what it needs and you need to think about this before you decide to add another responsibility to your already full plate. Getting mad at them because they aren’t fulfilling the responsibilities with the dog by doing what they said they would only creates resentment towards the dog and instability in the home, both of which your dog never asked for.
- Do you really have the time for the type of dog you’re adopting or buying? Do you really have time for owning a dog at all? Sorry, not sorry for saying this. It’s tiresome to hear people constantly tell me AFTER they got a dog and allowed MANY unfavorable behaviors to develop that they don’t want it anymore. Do you really think it’s going to be super easy to find a home for your dog that you’ve not done anything to mold appropriately? It’s not unless they are a stunning specimen (let’s face it, no matter how poorly behaved a unique or beautiful dog is, they will have thirty thousand people who want it) so do your dog and me a favor and stay dog free if you can’t commit to meeting your dogs needs. Surprise! They don’t want to live with you if you can’t.
- If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard, “My dog is so needy,” or “My dog is destructive,” I would be watching the sunset from my beach house every night. Your dog does NEED you. Your dog is going to be destructive if you don’t exercise it unless you get an older sedentary dog whose main goal in life is finding the sunniest spot to bake themselves. Exercising your dog cannot be your last priority if you intend to have a happy dog who doesn’t drive you nuts trying to communicate in every inappropriate way what they need you to do. And no, following you around all day while you frantically run from room to room doesn’t constitute exercise. Get out and walk. Get out and play. Just get out!
- Have you ever considered that if you don’t give your dog something to do, they will find their own job? Barking at passers by, chewing up your belongings, and eliminating on the floor will become their job. You don’t like those things? Stimulate their mind and bodies or that’s what you can expect. Don’t get a dog expecting it’ll be well-behaved without doing anything to deserve a well-behaved dog.
- When you get a new dog, the dog has a lot of adjusting to do. Most owners and dogs undergo what we like to call the “honeymoon stage” where things are so beyond blissful that you could never imagine creating boundaries let alone rehoming them. Sadly, without proper integration into a new home and immediate expectations, I promise you that you could become part of the large percentage of people who give up on your beloved pet at some point. You can’t fathom it? It happens way more than you’d think or you’ll want to admit.
- Your dog bit your kid? Oops, I guess YOU didn’t train it properly. Blame yourself, not the dog. Blame your kids, not the dog. Biting is a result of too much freedom, anxiety, fear and inability to manage themselves. You need to manage your dog. You need to manage your kids! Why do people think their dogs should know how to manage themselves when you’ve given them no direction? Dogs aren’t able to adapt to your crazy household without the ability to observe, decompress at times, and relax. If your home is full of chaos and unpredictability, please rethink getting a dog until you’ve either lessened the chaos or figured out how to manage it better. Dogs should not be expected to arrive in your home perfectly behaved and able to handle the things that you live with daily and still stress you out. Without doing this, it’s a recipe for disaster and the discussion of rehoming will likely be on the table at some point.
- Your dog digs holes in your yard? Sounds like a case of, “You don’t exercise them enough.” Dogs need on average 1-2 hours of exercise a day. Running around aimlessly in the backyard isn’t enough. Digging in the yard, eating your plants, and destroying your patio furniture are all consequences of not providing your dog with the time required and necessary to tire their minds and bodies. Stop making yourself mad, doing nothing different and grab your dogs leash and go get your boots on the ground. After all, you need the exercise too!
- Lastly, please stop setting expectations for your dogs that they can’t meet. We spend years molding our human children, teaching our children, having others teach our children and we still complain, find them stressful and need a break at times. While this is not abnormal or frowned upon, what is frowned upon is getting a dog impulsively without considering the above mentioned suggestions. Getting a dog is choice. It’s your choice. Your dog might not have chosen you if they had other options or the ability to have input. Make their life what they deserve or do yourself, their next potential owner and the dog a favor and get a goldfish.
Cheers to all those who get it and for those of you that don’t, I’m sure our paths will cross eventually so until then…