Maybe you know someone who’s considering adopting a dog, or you’re a proud fish owner looking to make the leap to a canine companion (which is a very big leap). Since dogs require care for the entirety of their lives (upward of 15+ years), potential pet parents shouldn’t take the decision to bring home a dog lightly. Making a responsible, carefully considered decision before bringing home a new pet is a much better option than making an impulsive-but-well-intended adoption, which may result in the animal ending up in a shelter later in life. If you are exhibiting one or more of these signs, then you need to seriously consider if you are able to adopt a dog and give it the attention it requires:
1. You’re not home enough: Not everyone’s lifestyle is conducive to dog ownership; if you are gone for a lot of the day, a dog will definitely not be an appropriate pet for you. Dogs not only need appropriate bathroom breaks, they also need enough attention, exercise, and stimulation to ward off boredom and prevent undesirable behaviors. Think honestly about your lifestyle and consider whether or not you have time to properly care for a dog. If you leave a dog unattended for hours and hours without any kind of attention, it could develop destructive tendencies and/or separation anxiety. Not to mention, you’ll probably come home to find poop and pee all over the place. All in all, not having enough time for your dog is not an ideal situation for anyone involved.
2. You or someone in your house has severe allergies: If someone’s health or quality of life is going to be seriously affected, then a dog is probably not the best idea. However, people with minor allergies are still sometimes able to live harmoniously with a canine companion. In addition, some breeds are more allergy-inducing than others (usually breeds with more dander), and usually dogs with hair instead of fur are hypoallergenic! Speak with your doctor if you have any questions about controlling your allergies and selecting an appropriate dog breed.
3. You’re not financially prepared: Canines are a serious financial responsibility, with vet bills possibly going into the hundreds and thousands over the course of your pet’s life. They require food, supplies, veterinary care, grooming, and sometimes professional training, boarding, and other services. If you’re barely squeaking by with your own bills, you’re probably not ready to add a dog to your list of expenses. You may have all the time in the world, a spacious backyard, endless love to give, etc. but if you don’t have the money to provide basic needs for the dog, you should refrain from adopting a dog.
4. You just want a puppy: Obviously, puppies don’t stay puppies forever – although you’d think that most people forget that vital piece of information. That cute little ball of fur is going to grow into an adult, and will continue to require love and care for many years to come. Don’t get too caught up in the “cute” factor when deciding whether or not to add a canine member to your family.
5. You don’t have enough time: For those who are “too busy” all of the time, you probably don’t want to add a dog to your life’s routine. Although you may really want to rescue or adopt a dog from a local shelter, if you don’t have the time to socialize with it, take it on walks, or play with it, the dog will become depressed. Sure, the shelter is a sad place for any animal to be in, but the dog is better off waiting for a different prospective owner who is ready for the commitment.
6. You don’t have a proper environment: Many apartment or home rentals do not allow pets, especially Pit Bulls, so before you even consider adopting a dog, make sure that your landlord allows it. I have heard too many cases where a tenant rescues a dog from the shelter, only to have it end up back at the shelter a few days later after the landlord finds out. Even if pets are allowed at your apartment, town home, condo, etc., make sure that your dog has enough space to be comfortable. If your living situation has no yard, you better have the time to take your dog on daily walks. If your home has very little space and no yard, maybe a smaller animal or an aquarium is a more appropriate pet.
7. You are flaky and/or irresponsible: There is nothing worse than someone who doesn’t follow through with what they say they are going to do. The same goes for dog ownership; by adopting a dog, you are making a promise to them that you are going to improve their life and be their beacon of hope. Many of the dogs in shelters have been dumped, abandoned, neglected, and/or abused by their owners, so the last thing that it needs is to have another human contribute to its misery. Again, you may have the best of intentions to save the dog and give it a better life, but if you end up becoming “bored” or “over it” after a little while, the dog will suffer even more than it already has. The dog needs you to show it that you are not going to let it down – if you are not up to that task, then you are definitely not ready for a dog.
If your current situation isn’t ideal for dog ownership, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to get your puppy fix. Volunteering at a local shelter is a great way to help dogs in need if you’re not ready for adoption! Also, if you want to test out the waters before making the “fur-ever commitment” to a dog, you can find a local rescue in your area and foster dogs for them. Fostering not only saves lives, but it is a (usually) temporary situation in which you can receive a crash-course in caring for dogs without having to make a full years-long commitment to owning a dog. Besides, if you fall in love with your foster dog, you could end up adopting it if you truly think you are ready!