Twila E. Palmer's Blog
There are several compelling reasons to have a dog as a family pet. They give their owners unconditional love, their protective instinct helps keep your family and home safe, and they're great walking or jogging companions. If you love dogs, then your home probably does not feel complete without one. However, dog ownership is not for everyone, and careful thought should be given to the pros and cons of bringing a dog into the family. Here's an overview of some of the issues to weigh when your kids are begging you to buy them a puppy.
- Is your family's lifestyle compatible with dog ownership? Dogs are very social animals, so if everyone is too busy to train, walk, and play with a new pet, then your pooch might not receive the attention they need to thrive and be happy. Dogs that are frequently bored or lonely tend to acquire some undesirable habits, such as chewing on furniture or barking incessantly. Dogs also need to be groomed regularly, taken to the vet's for periodic shots and checkups, and given preventative medicine for ticks, fleas, and other parasites. Some dog breeds are considered to be higher maintenance than others, so it pays to do your research before deciding whether to take on the responsibility of dog ownership.
- Does anyone in your family have allergies to dogs or cats? Roughly one in ten people in the U.S. do have pet allergies, so it could be a potential problem. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, dogs produce allergens that are found in their hair, dander, saliva, and urine. Symptoms of a dog or cat allergy can include sneezing, running nose, coughing, wheezing, hives, rashes, or watery, itchy, red eyes. If might be impractical to have a dog living in your house if a member of your family has a pet allergy. The good news is that there are some dogs that are less likely to cause allergic reactions than others, including the following breeds: Bichon Frise, Maltese, Poodle, Schnauzer, Irish Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog, Afghan Hound, several types of terriers, and a handful of other family-friendly dogs. The American Kennel Club is a good source of information on dogs, including ones that have non-shedding coats and produce less dander.
- Dogs that were bred in less-than-humane conditions and were removed from their mother prematurely may be fearful, neurotic, and have behavioral problems. Buying puppies through reputable, local breeders rather than pet stores that may be associated with large-scale "puppy mills" is usually a wiser approach to adopting a dog. There are plenty of pet stores that sell healthy, well adjusted puppies, but it's always good to shop around and make informed decisions.
- Large, rambunctious dogs can be playful and friendly, but aren't aware of the effect they can have on their human friends. If you have very young children or elderly relatives in the house, an overly exuberant, large dog might not be the best match for your family. If you do have a big dog, one of the first orders of business would be to teach them not to jump on people.