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What it Means to Own a Dog

What it Means to Own a Dog

Inviting a dog or puppy to be a part of your family is a huge undertaking - more so than many people realise at first! Read on for some key things you should be considering before deciding to adopt a new dog or pup.

Your local SPCA should be your first port of call if you are thinking of adopting a dog or puppy. Please pay them a visit - you may just fall in love!

A dog is a responsibility, an expense - and a tie. It is hair on the carpet and muddy paw marks on the floor. Your dog is a long term commitment - maybe 15 years or more, but to many people the effort involved and the time and money spent, is well worthwhile because of the pleasure they derive from their dog - a true friend and companion.

A dog is the most demanding and expensive domestic pet, so do not buy a puppy or a dog, or accept one as a gift, unless you have the time and the means to care for it properly. For this reason, never give a puppy or a dog as a surprise present.

A few things to consider...

Do you live in a rented property?

Few landlords will allow dogs and even if your present landlord does, the chances are that the next one will not.

Do you have a fenced property?

It is important for the dog, for good neighbour-relations and for your own convenience and peace of mind that at least a portion of your property, adjacent to the house, is securely fenced and gated.

Do not be pressured by your children into getting a dog. Despite their promises to look after it, the novelty will wear off. Also, the children may have grown up and left home while the dog is still in its prime. Either way, it is YOUR dog!

Be prepared for considerable financial outlay. Even a 'free' dog is still an expensive acquisition! Apart from food and sundry needs such as worm pills, collars, leads, shampoos etc, you will need to think about...

  • annual registration which is a legal requirement. Contact your local council for details
  • veterinary care which is expensive but essential. Your dog will need initial and ongoing vaccinations, it should be desexed as soon as practicable, and should it become sick or be injured in any way you could face very considerable expense.
  • boarding fees may need to be paid if you need to go away and cannot take your dog with you
  • legal costs could arise if your dog becomes a social problem
  • and finally, remember impounding costs are high! Always know your dogs whereabouts and keep identification on his collar.

Do you know your legal obligations as a dog owner? A copy of the by-laws that apply in your area is available from your local authority offices.

Dogs need human company. They are social animals and in the wild they live in packs. The family is the domestic dogs pack. That is why it is important to your dog to be with you, not shut outdoors or in the basement. Bad habits can result from loneliness and boredom. To deprive a dog of human companionship and affection could be described as a form of cruelty. Dogs take up time! Like children, they need physical care - such as grooming, they need initial training, and they need you to take them out for exercise on a regular basis. Dogs also need to be touched and talked to. They like to be useful so if they can learn to do a few simple tasks, such as carrying their lead or the paper, this will make them feel good.

Choosing your dog

Do not obtain a dog on impulse. Be practical and select a type or breed that will best suit your temperament, your finances, your property and your lifestyle. Get some books from your library, visit your local animal shelter, observe an obedience class at work and talk to the trainers and to other dog owners before making your final choice.

Pure-breed or mongrel?

A mixed-breed dog is just as loyal, loving and intelligent as a pure-bred dog. If you adopt a pure-bred puppy you will have the advantage of knowing in advance how big it will grow and what it will look like. The mongrel puppy is a surprise package!

Puppy or adult dog?

Puppies are delightful - provided that you have the necessary time and patience to rear and train them. If you are a mother of young children or if you are away from home most of the day, consider a mature dog. Chances are it will be house trained and over the chewing stage.

Male or Female?

Provided your dog is desexed there is little to choose between the sexes. In a purebred dog, the male is usually larger than the female.

Children and Dogs

Puppies and small children are not always a good combination as they easily over-excite each other. Puppy teeth are sharp and can hurt, but a puppy is not a toy and its limbs are breakable. Some breeds and/or individual dogs are quite unsuited to children. A medium sized dog of placid disposition usually works out best. A happy dog/child relationship is a wonderful thing and benefits both child and dog, but parental supervision is strongly recommended.

The Over-Population Problem

Every year thousands of dogs are put to death, not because they are old, or sick, or vicious, but simply because there are too many of them. Contrary to popular belief, desexing does not make an animal fat or lazy, neither is it true that your female dog should have one litter. Be a responsible dog owner and have your dog desexed BEFORE it has added to the canine population. Please see our desexing pages for more information.

Do you still want a dog?

Are you prepared to take on this long-term commitment? .. to be your dog's friend and companion all his life? .. to care for him in sickness and in health? .. to take him for walks - even when you don't feel like it? .. to wipe the mud off the floor, the nosemarks off the windows and vacuum the hair off the carpet, year in and year out? .. will you derive sufficient pleasure from your dog to make it all worthwhile?

If the answer to all these questions is 'yes' then you are probably the right person to own a dog. Congratulations! Please consider paying a visit to your local SPCA to find your new family member. Good luck with your canine companion. You will never have a more loyal friend.

Article Copyright The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Incorporated (RNZSPCA) - www.rnzspca.org.nz