Are you being realistic?


Are you being realistic

about dog ownership?

by Jane Anderson April 2013


I’ve had dogs for a lot of years. I gave up my corporate career to just focus on dogs. That’s all I do, each and every day. Dogs. Dogs. Dogs. And because of this, I meet with a lot of people on most days to talk about their dogs and sometimes my dogs. 

Some people look at dog ownership as the equivalent of two parents, two kids, and a white picket fence.  Dad goes off joyfully to work all day, and the mother (equally joyful) stays at home cooking scones for morning tea, and steak for dinner paired with a gorgeous apple pie for dessert, and everything is smooth and seamless.

In terms of dogs, the myth looks like this:

  • joyful puppy experience morphing into a wonderful well trained dog

Realistically, married life tends to look somewhat different, including divorce, very hard financial times, credit card overload, both parents (if there are 2 parents) having to work, and everyone very harried, worried, and stressed.  And that’s the good stuff, you can then add in a whole range of horrible things that can happen regardless of what suburb you live in.   However, we live under the illusion still of the white picket fence.

And kids don’t magically turn into great human beings.  They require a whole lot of work to become lovely members of society.  Unfortunately a lot of parents don’t understand the workload required and many just neglect to do so.

On the other hand a lot of parents do step up to the plate and wonderful human beings are created.

Having a dog is just the same in many respects.    These cute furry creatures will:

  • bite, jump, pee, poop, bark, wreck stuff, pull on the lead, have separation anxiety, etc

If you don’t put in the work early on and continue with this work, you will have issues.

Great dogs do not result because of neglect. 

If you neglect teaching a dog manners, and fail to educate it, there will be issues, many of them significant, and at the very least, potentially significant including fatalities for humans and other creatures.

Some hard questions to ask yourself and members of your family:

  • Do you have enough time to put into training and establishing guidelines for both the dog and the humans getting the dog?
  • Do you have enough time and motivation to attend weekly dog training classes?
  • Is this dog going to be an active part of your family (please note, keeping your dog outside 24/7 and claiming to take it for one walk a day does not qualify as “active part of your family”)
  • Are you prepared to self educate in a timely way? This means, surfing the net for help in dog behavioural issues/and or buying dog training books, or watching behavioural DVDs?
  • Do you understand that in order to change dog behaviour, you need to firstly change human behaviour?
  • Will you puppy/dog proof areas of your house and yard for your dog?
  • Will you have appropriate fencing?


If you have answered “no” to any of these questions, then now is not the right time to get a dog.


A recipe for disaster – before you even get your dog:

  • you have 1 or more young children who are currently taking up a whole lot of your time. (can you have a conversation on the phone without being interrupted?)
  • you have older children who need to get taken to a million and one events each and every week
  • you haven’t established good behavioural rules and guidelines for members of your family
  • you are currently working full time and studying out of hours (or variation thereof)
  • you think that it’s fine to crate your dog for hours each day
  • you leave for work at 7am in the morning and get home at 7pm or later each day
  • your significant other, who will be spending the majority of time at home, isn’t as in love with the idea of having a dog as are you
  • any member of your household is fearful of dogs
  • you like to blame others for your issues rather than shoulder responsibility for your mistakes

If any of these exist, then now is not the right time to get a dog.  This doesn’t mean you can never get a dog, but there is an action plan you need to create and put in place before dog ownership can become a reality.

These factors listed above are not unique for any breed or cross breed.  The reason why millions of dogs are euthanized through shelters each year is because of inappropriate human behaviour and unrealistic expectations.

Good dogs don’t result by accident.  They result because humans have put in the work, and more often than not – that means a significant amount of work.

Put in the work, and you will have a great dog.

Jane Anderson

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