As much as I advocate adopting unwanted pets and opening your home and heart to a homeless pup, some people just should not have dogs. It's easy to get lost in the excitement and brush over the chores associated with living with a dog. You will have to clean up, feed, walk, and play with this animal daily, and at regular intervals throughout each day no matter your lifestyle.
If you don’t see yourself as someone who can handle that level of engagement, it is kinder to not bring home a puppy or dog. Too many people adopt dogs only to surrender them soon after when the reality of ownership kicks in. I have known people who see my dogs and comment that maybe they should get a dog of their own. However, they are often the same people who would have a problem with daily walks, vet care, and even regular feedings. I tell them that dogs are a lifetime commitment that requires a deep understanding of yourself and your willingness to bring another life into your home.
Not everyone should own a dog. Could you be one of them? Here are 10 signs you should NOT get a dog:
1. You like your house immaculate. We all like a clean home but when you own a dog, you must accept the fact that there will be times when your pup might have an accident (a sure thing when potty training a puppy), throw up, or leave fur behind on a couch, bed, or special piece of clothing. (Of course, there are ways to keep a very clean home when you have a dog. Pet lovers know what cleaning tools work best.) Dogs, and especially puppies, just might chew on your favorite shoe or other prized possession. It happens. If the thought of that freaks you out and you will not be able to calmly train a dog, do not get one. The same goes for if your spouse flies off the handle at a doggie mess. No dog deserves to be yelled at, abused, or hurt, simply because they are young and/or untrained.
2. You love cute puppies, but adult dogs? Not so much. Adorable puppies stay puppies for about two seconds. I felt like Django was small for about a day and a half and then quickly morphed into her adult size. Puppies stay small for such a short time, and bigger dogs that misbehave aren’t as cute. Ask yourself if their cute factor will outweigh the responsibility necessary. If the answer is no, then a dog is not for you. The worst thing is when owners raise their dogs only to surrender them to a shelter when they become old and gray.
3. Your child wants a dog. Every child wants a dog but the novelty wears off fast and the truth just might be that it will be you cleaning up, feeding, and walking them. Parents are the adults and while children can certainly be expected to help out with chores, the responsibility lies with mom and dad.
4. Your spouse has allergies to dogs. If there is any likelihood that a dog might have to go back, it's better not to adopt. Allergies do not miraculously disappear and the afflicted person might put up with it for some time, but getting sick over the new dog will eventually put a strain on the relationship.
5. You’re bored and think a dog could be fun. Dogs are fun, and loving, playful creatures, but they are also living, breathing animals with needs. They get sick, need vaccinations, and need to be exercised, fed, and loved daily. Consider their needs first.
6. You looove your neighbor’s teacup Chihuahua. Yes, she’s cute, but she might also be a yelper and feisty, and that might not work living in your home with six kids. Picking a dog that suits your particular needs is vital.
7. You travel more than you’re at home. Dogs are social by nature and thrive on routine. It's in no one’s interest (particularly the poor pup!) to constantly leave them home alone (even if you have a dog walker). If you find yourself on an airplane more than in your apartment, get some goldfish instead.
8. You spend more time in your office than in your bedroom. The same goes for work.
9. Your spouse wants a dog and you don’t want to cause a fight. Like children, pets should be wanted and cherished. If you can’t find it in your heart to welcome a pup into your life, warts and all, with open arms, then don’t.
10. You randomly stopped at an adoption event and this dog was just sooo cute! Of course, he was cute, but that’s just not enough reason to make a rash decision. Living creatures are not impulse purchases. Think about it for a while before you get a dog. If you've never had a dog before, dog-sit a neighbor’s pup or volunteer at a shelter to get a feel of what it’s really like to own a dog.