Your phone pings and you have a message. You open it to see the cutest puppy looking out at you with doleful eyes and an accompanying message that states the dog needs a home. And just like that, your heart melts and you decide to bring home a dog. But wait! Bringing home a dog is much more than that. When you bring home a dog, you need to put more thought into it- a dog will share your home and heart for over a decade and you have to be responsible for the care, health, training and life of the animal.
You cannot and should not bring home a dog on a whim or because you feel sorry for the dog or simply because you’re lonely. You should ONLY bring home a dog when you are READY for the responsibilities that come with keeping a dog – Logistically and Emotionally. Here are some points to consider before you bring home a dog:
- Dogs can live upto 18-20 years, with the average life span between 12-15 years. You need to make a commitment to the dog for the full period. You cannot toss out the dog when you get bored of the novelty of having a pet at home.
- Your family and you will have to be responsible for the care and upkeep of your pet. This includes food, home, security, physical well-being and medical care, not to mention love and fun.
- Don’t adopt a dog on impulse. Think about what kind of dog you want- active, small, short haired, etc., and which will suit your lifestyle. Read up on the dog of your choice – it doesn’t have to be extensive, just some basics. Most of us have computers, so use them. Speak to others who have the same dog at home. They’re a great source of information.
Puppies shouldn’t be taken from their mom’s until they are 7-8 weeks old. The two months of mum’s milk is very important. It provides immunity and just the right ingredients to make them grow into healthy dogs. They also learn important socialisation rules from their moms and siblings; removing a pup too early from its mother will impair its learning and training process later in life.
- If you are considering getting a purebred, make sure the breeder you choose cares about the breed and its betterment. Ideally, the mother and father should be on site at the breeders. Just because a purebred pup has ‘papers’ really doesn’t mean a whole lot since puppy mills also have “papers’ for their dogs and their offspring. Instead, insist on meeting the parents as their temperament is likely to affect your puppy’s personality.
- Is there someone at home to look after the dog? Dogs are social animals and need lots of love and attention.
- Have you sufficient space to keep a dog? Remember, a big dog needs adequate space to live and exercise.
- Does your landlord / housing society allow you to keep pets?
- Are you prepared to exercise your dog at least three times a day? All dogs need to be taken out for a walk. This gives the opportunity for exercise and provides mental stimulation and a chance to socialise. Do you have the time and energy to exercise and play with a dog?
- Can you afford vet fees if your dog is ill?
- Will you be able to feed your dog a nutritious diet? Your dog needs a balanced diet to have a healthy shiny coat and to be free of digestive disorders.
- Are you prepared for some damage in the house from a puppy until it has learnt to be clean and behave? Dogs have to be housetrained with a lot of love and patience. Dogs can get easily bored if left alone through the day. Any dog that is bored will be destructive around the house.
- Have you time to groom your pet regularly? Grooming a dog is important because it gives you a chance to give your dog a quick health check.
- Do you realise that dogs like people grow old and may need special care and medication?
- Are you prepared to love and care for a dog all of its life, not just when it is a cuddly puppy? The cutest of pups will grow up to be adult dogs with different needs and demands. Most of the dogs in the city are abandoned because their owners failed to realise that the little fur ball would one day grow up and have demands of its own.
- Are you prepared to spend time and effort to train your dog yourself? A well-trained dog is a blessing to live with.
Above all, dogs need companionship and love. They need you to be a good pet parent. In return you will get a furry companion who loves you unconditionally and will be at your side for life.