So, you’re thinking you want to get a dog! Man’s best friend certainly has a lot of commendations to his credit. Loyal to his core, always happy to see you, and with very few demands of his own, a dog seems to be the ideal companion. Yet choosing to add a dog to your home is a big decision. As with all life-altering choices, there are many factors to consider. When a dog joins your family, you are making a commitment to love and care for him for the next 10-15 years. Sadly, not everything that comes with dog ownership is sunshine and roses. Before taking the plunge and bringing a dog to join your family, it is always wise to carefully consider the pros and cons of that decision. With unwanted dogs deposited at shelters and rescues on a daily basis, you want to be one hundred percent certain that you are ready for a dog before making your purchase. Is the timing right to add a dog to your home? On the list of pros and cons of getting a dog, do you come out on the pro or con side?
The Pros of Getting a Dog
Deciding whether or not to get a dog is a big decision, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some people would dearly love to add a pooch to their family but find they just don’t have the necessary time or finances to devote to a dog. There is no shame in deciding the timing just isn’t right for such a long-term and serious commitment. When trying to make a wise choice, it is always helpful to consider all of the pros and cons to assist you with your decision.
Here is a list of some pros to adding a dog to your home:
- More exercise
If you’ve been meaning to do something about that spare tire gathering around your waist, a dog can certainly help! Dogs need regular exercise, and even if you provide a large backyard for their playtime pleasure, they still need to get out and about to explore their neighborhood on daily walks. Mental and physical stimulation is very important to the proper development of a dog.
What does that mean for you?
Your health is going to improve. We can all benefit from a little added exercise, and even the most boring neighborhood walk is much more fun when your canine pal is along for company. Adding a pooch to your family is going to increase the amount of activity you are currently getting, and that can only be a good thing for both of you! Your cardiovascular health will improve, and you might even get back into those jeans you’ve been hiding at the back of the closet since last Christmas.
- Increased social opportunities
In a day and age where we are tempted to hide behind computer and TV screens, having a dog gets us out of the house. While at first many would balk at this, increased social opportunities are actually very beneficial for our mental health. Whether you meet new friends at the dog park, a puppy socialization class, or even your vet’s office, you will meet likeminded people with similar goals whose company you enjoy.
Dogs afford us more sociability as many strangers are willing to approach someone who has a cute puppy or adult dog in tow. The dog acts as an icebreaker, enabling virtual strangers to have common ground to start a conversation. There is no doubt that adding a dog to your home will help you to make new friends! And who couldn’t benefit from an added friend or two?
- Less stress
Research shows that even the simple act of petting a beloved dog reduces stress levels. Dogs love our company; in fact, we are the highlight of their entire day, and that is good for our ego, increasing feelings of contentment and positivity. No matter the pressures of your day, you can’t help but break out in a smile at the sight of your best canine pal standing at the door with his tail wagging a mile a minute and all because you are finally home!
Simple pleasures like cuddling with your fave pooch on the couch, taking a car ride together, or even just stroking your dog’s beautiful coat help promote feelings of wellness and relaxation; a powerful point in the pro column, for sure!
- Improved mood
It’s hard to feel blue with a dog around! From the exuberant wag of a tail to the incessant doggy kisses, you can’t help but feel better about a bad day with your best canine pal around for company.
- Enhanced home security
If you’re looking for a little added layer of security from your home, you’ll get it in spades if you purchase a dog! With such an acute sense of hearing, your dog will pick up and tune in on even the most minute sounds that would most definitely escape your ears. This gives you added peace of mind that should an intruder target your home, your pooch will hear any invasion attempts before you do and will alert bark which is often enough to drive even the most determined criminal away.
- Access to unconditional love
Whether you’ve had a horrible day, look like you could haunt houses professionally, or have breath that could wilt daisies, your dog will love you with all of his heart. It is not diminished by the worst of breath and rottenest of moods. Access to that kind of unconditional love is sure to soften even the hardest of hearts. After all, even the Grinch couldn’t resist the appeal—or the love—of a dog!
The Cons of Getting a Dog
Yes, there are most definitely many positives to owning a dog. Yet there are also many ways your life will change, and you must be ready for the work of adding a canine to your family as well. It’s important to consider all pertinent factors in a realistic manner in order to present an accurate picture of what adding a dog to your home will mean.
Here are some factors that could be considered “cons” to owning a dog:
Dogs are expensive. Yes, you have the up front expenditure to acquire your puppy or adult dog. But even if you pay thousands of dollars to purchase your precious bundle of canine joy, that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the expenses that lay ahead of you as a dog owner. Dogs require high quality food, regular veterinary care, training, vaccinations, toys, treats, doggy day care…the list is endless. As a dog owner, you would want to provide the very best for your pooch, but many families simply cannot afford the financial sacrifices that are necessary to give a dog the life that they deserve.
Of course, added into this equation is the cost if your dog ends up injured, seriously ill, or befalls a hereditary disease. Any of these scenarios can cost up front fees of thousands and thousands of dollars.
A dog is a significant commitment. With life expectancies averaging anywhere from 10-15 years, you are bringing a life into your home that will be with you for a decade or more. Are you prepared to expend the time required to train your puppy? Will you willingly deal with the needs of a senior dog needing more frequent bathroom breaks and veterinary visits? When you bring a dog into your home, you are committing your time, your money, and your heart. It will mean sacrifice, it will mean heartache, and it will mean work.
- Exercise requirements
While exercise earns high marks on the pro list, it also shows up on the con as well. Why is that? Your pooch will require regular daily physical and mental stimulation. If you are a very busy person with little time to spare, you may not want to have to come home to take your very exuberant puppy on a three mile walk to “wear him out.”
But unless you want to take your dog out on a lead every time “nature calls,” you may also need to fence in your yard, a not inexpensive prospect. While a fenced yard can provide an excellent area for your dog to burn off some pent-up energies, it will not negate the fact that your pooch will still need regular neighborhood walks or trips to the dog park to remain mentally and physically satisfied.
- Damage to your home and property
Let’s face it; dogs can be destructive. From the puppy years when not a single thing in your home is safe from razor sharp puppy teeth to the senior years when accidents happen in spite of your pooch’s best intentions, your home and your property will face some damage. If your home is your castle and you can’t bear a little doggy wear and tear, the timing may not be right to add a dog to your family.
- Saying goodbye
Dogs add an infinite amount of joy to our lives and one great sadness—the day you must say goodbye. Staying by your dog’s side as they slip from this life into the next is the greatest kindness any dog owner can give to their dogs, yet it is also one of the most difficult moments we have to endure. Saying hello to a dog means at some point in their lives we must say goodbye. Yet the joy of knowing and loving a dog outweighs the pain of losing them a million times over. Only you can decide if your heart can handle the sharp pain of that loss.
Yes, owning a dog is a wonderful thing if the timing is right for you and your family. Before making a decision to purchase a puppy or adult dog, take the time to consider the pros and cons to make the correct choice for you. You’ll be glad you did!