Is Owning a Dog Right for You? The Pros and Cons of Dog Ownership

Find out if owning a dog is right for your family!

August 21, 2018

Many people dream of adding a friendly four-legged Fido to the family. But is it the right time to trade in a spotless home and spontaneous lifestyle for a furry companion? Before you head to a local rescue or consult with breeders, it is worth considering the benefits and challenges of dog ownership so that you are well equipped to make the best decision for your family, as well as for the lucky pup you choose to bring home.

Pros of dog ownership

Here are four positive factors that might convince you that getting a dog is right for you.

  1. Love and companionship. They call it "puppy love" for a reason. There are few things in life that compare to being greeted by an enthusiastic dog, complete with lolling tongue and wagging tail, as you walk through the door after a long day of work. Dogs are incredibly loving animals who are eager to please and do not spare affection. Do not underestimate the strength of the bond you can develop with your pup!
  2. Physical and mental health benefits. Research shows that the bond you form with your dog may actually lead to improvements in your own physical and emotional health. In addition to increasing physical activity through daily walks in the park, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that pet owners experience lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and feelings of loneliness. Many mental health professionals even recommend their clients consider owning a dog as an emotional support animal due to the psychological benefits dog ownership can bestow.
  3. Teach kids responsibility. If your children have been begging you for a pet, this may be the perfect opportunity to teach them important lessons in responsibilities. Dogs require lots of love and care, and even young children are capable of assisting with feeding, grooming, and walking the family pet.
  4. Different breeds for different personalities. Dogs, like people, come with a host of different traits and temperaments. While some dogs are eager to engage in competitive sports, swims, or hikes, others are content to spend hours cuddling with their human companions. No matter what your preferences and lifestyle entail, there is almost certainly a dog who would be a perfect fit.

Cons of dog ownership

Here are three factors that might cause you to think twice before making an impulsive decision about bringing Fido home.

  1. Financial burden. Before investing in a loving addition to your family, it is important to consider the cost of this investment. The initial expenses of dog ownership include the adoption or breeder fees, supplies (e.g., crate, leash, toys), and a visit to the veterinarian for vaccinations and a wellness check. You may also choose to enroll your dog in obedience classes. Annual costs include food and vet visits at a bare minimum, but may also increase if you hire someone to walk your dog while you are at work or watch your puppy when you go on vacation, or if you regularly take your dog to visit a groomer. Medical expenses may arise without warning, particularly as your dog ages, and it is wise to plan for these emergencies before they happen so that you are prepared. You should also factor in the cost of regularly purchasing toys and treats to keep your pup stimulated, happy, and to prevent chewing on the furniture.
  2. Loss of spontaneity. Perhaps you are used to living a life in which you are free to come and go as you please. When you add a dog to the mix, it becomes more important to plan ahead, as you must ensure that your dog's needs for exercise and toileting are met. This could put a damper on your Friday afternoon happy hour plans, or you may find yourself rushing home on your lunch break to take your dog for a quick walk around the block.
  3. Decreased cleanliness and order in your home. If you are used to keeping your living space spotless, dog ownership is likely to be an adjustment. Though some dog breeds are hypoallergenic and do not shed, it is inevitable that dogs will make their presence known in one way or another, be it through the smell of wet dog fur after a rainy day walk or a chewed-up flip flop that you forgot to put away. Even house-trained dogs have accidents from time to time, which can result in odors and stains.

Dog ownership is a major commitment, and for many people, it is incredibly rewarding. If you are still unsure if you are ready to make the commitment, you may consider fostering a rescue dog from a local animal shelter. This is a great way to see what it will be like to add a pup to your family firsthand, as well as to experience a variety of dog breeds, ages, and temperaments, so that you can make an informed decision when the time comes to bring your own dog home.

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