By Saro Boghozian, Expert Family Dog Trainer
Nowadays, owning a dog is nothing short of a fashion statement. Many people assume it’s a simple acquisition and if it doesn’t work they can return it, fix it, or discard it. They overlook the fact that they are dealing with an animal that has feelings, emotions and needs. If you are keen on acquiring a dog it’s important to know the responsibilities before, during, and after your new pet moves in.
The question most people ask when getting a dog is, “What do I want from my dog?” And their answer is always, “A dog that can satisfy my needs. A dog who can be my companion; who I can cuddle with; who I can hike or jog with; who can play with me and my children,” and so on. Although these are lofty ideas for acquiring a dog, owning one involves a far different mindset.
The reality is many people live a lifestyle that doesn’t always have room for a dog. From busy work schedules, children’s sports, and internet-driven downtime, this stressful and hyperactive lifestyle often leaves your dog lacking attention and socialization. Some dogs can adapt BUT the consequences are seldom good.
Naturally, to own a dog you must first be a dog lover. But what is more important, you need to be an animal lover. And to love animals you must understand them and respect their lifestyle and habits, which are a far cry from ours. Many of us regard dogs as pets but in truth, they are still part animals. Perhaps not as wild as wolves but clearly not as sophisticated as people. So it’s important that you understand your dog is an animal first and then a pet.
For centuries humans bred dogs to fulfil their specific needs. They were bred to work, guard properties, haul loads, seek out wild animals, kill invasive rodents, and so on. Over time many dogs were allowed to move into the household to live with the family. Breeding and designing dogs with different looks, shapes and sizes took on a different focus. This is when many dogs took on the role known as pets. Keep in mind that a “pet” is still a mild term for “animal” that lives with us in our home with one thing in common – needs that require fulfilling.
Sadly, many people do not take the time to educate themselves properly with what it takes to fulfil a dog; it’s traits and needs. This often results in their dog developing behavioural and emotional problems. Television has jumped on board over the last decade with TV shows, books and trainers all trying to make sense of dog behavioural problems. These are quick-fix solutions in an hour-long show about desperate dog owners who can’t understand why their dog is behaving a certain way. Unfortunately, in many cases, they get the answer they wished for, but not what they needed to hear and after a short time, the problem is back. That is because these owners were not prepared to own a dog in the first place.
People need to realize the facts before getting a dog. Either a puppy or a rescued dog comes with tremendous responsibilities that many people are not mindful of. Most are not intentionally acting on this matter but it has become a casual act of window-shopping with “Isn’t it cute! I’d like one!” Dogs should not be considered a product. Seriously ask yourself, “Am I prepared to care and nurture this animal for the next 12 to 16 years?”
You are the one who ultimately decides to bring a dog into your life, not the other way around. You need to plan and understand what is involved with owning a dog before moving ahead. Cute puppies don’t last. They grow up, need training, eat more, and demand more. And when they grow old require special care. Can you commit to this?
Stop asking yourself “What do I want from a dog?” But ask yourself, “What does a dog need?” Not many people ask this question when they get a dog as the acquisition tends to be self-focused with “what I want”. Some people assume dogs only need food, water, shelter and love. And as long as they can provide these elements for their dog it will be happy. Yes, these are essentials for a dog but not needs. Needs are based on factors designed in their genes and are requirements for a healthy natural life. Just like people differ, dogs needs differ as well in temperament and activity and care.
Stay tuned for more information about dogs and their care including “What is the best dog for your lifestyle.”
Don’t forget, a dog is only a small piece of your busy life whereas in their lives you are much more.