March 23 is National Puppy Day, and as a rash of new "pandemic puppies" has shown the nation, a furry little companion can make even the most turbulent times easier to bear. But that doesn't mean everyone is cut out for dog ownership. From those with busy schedules to people who are research-averse, here are 14 types of people who should reconsider adopting or buying a dog.
If your work or school keeps you away from home for long periods, you should think twice about dog ownership. "If you can't return home during breaks or are gone for more than 12 hours a day, reconsider adopting," says Sakura Davis, a Tacoma, Washington, veterinary technician and veterinary consultant for CatPet.Club.
Likewise, if you're already committed to a lot of other obligations — say, volunteer work, a busy social calendar, or even a lot of other pets, says Davis — think twice. "A dog needs quality time and exercise. Being locked in the house all day can be stressful."
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Dogs, especially younger ones and puppies, require plenty of patience. But "dogs of any age need physical and mental stimulation, prefer to spend time with their family, and need to be taught life skills to help them adapt to our human environment and so they can make good choices," says Joan Hunter Mayer, a certified professional dog trainer and owner of The Inquisitive Canine. "If folks don't have the time, or other resources for help, they should reconsider. It's not fair to the dog and will often cause undue stress for everyone — the dog and the people."
If you're the couch potato type or just don't exercise with any regularity, keep in mind that, according to Davis, dogs require between 30 minutes to two hours of exercise per day, depending on their age, size, and activity level. "Even if it's not intense workouts, a nice stroll around the block or playing fetch at the park is just as sufficient. If you believe a dog is okay sitting in a crate all day, you probably should not get a dog."
You don't need to own a home with a huge yard to have a dog, but if you don't, you should have alternatives, such as a local park you can take your dog to, plans to hike or walk the neighborhood often, or — if your dog has a dog park-friendly temperament — nearby dog parks you can visit for exercise and socialization.
Can you afford the essentials of dog ownership, Davis asks, such as a collar, leash, food, bowls, toys, and dog beds? If the answer is yes, great. But also keep in mind that "dogs require a lot more stuff than most people think," she adds. "Other than the essentials, you have to have money on the side for regular and emergency vet visits."
Many dog owners say that pet insurance has been a life saver, particularly those whose best friends come from breeds known to be prone to certain medical conditions.
Related: Cheapest Dog Breeds to Own
Thinking about having a child soon? Then think twice about adopting that dog, Davis says. "As cute as it is to see dogs and babies interact and grow up together, a baby takes away a lot of your time. It's not fair for the newly adopted dog to have to take on being in second place when all your attention used to be on them. Also, you never know how a dog will react to your new bundle of joy. I've seen many cases where the adopted dog did not enjoy the baby or the owners realized they didn't have time for the dog and gave the dogs away."
Related: 10 Ways to Raise a Dog on a Budget
Dogs don't realize how much you paid for that sofa, or how hard you worked on that new landscaping bed. "Just like the saying boys will be boys … dogs will be dogs," Davis says. "Not all dogs come trained. Some dogs like to jump on the couch, some like to roll in the mud, some like to dig up the garden, and some have yet to master holding their bladder in the house. Adopting a dog means taking on new cleaning tasks — are you ready for that?"
Speaking of training, most dogs require some degree of it, and how much that is can depend on breed, age, prior owners, and more. Be prepared to spend at least 15 minutes per day on training — for as long as the task takes, and that could be months or longer. Puppies can take anywhere from four months to a year to potty train, according to Fetch by WebMD, so keep that in mind, too.
Sometimes, no matter how committed you are to training a new pup, you're going to need a professional, and you likely won't know it the day you bring that new family member home. If you aren't prepared to work with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist down the line, says Russell Hartstein, an L.A.-based pet behaviorist, trainer, and founder of Fun Paw Care, you probably aren't a good candidate for dog ownership. "It takes a great amount of skill, expertise, and knowledge to educate a dog and to make sure their needs are met."
People who have frequent stretches away from home, whether for work or leisure, might not make the best dog owners. "If you love to travel or have to travel or move often for work, who will care for your dog?" Davis asks. "Even if you can take them along, frequent traveling can be taxing for your dog — emotionally and physically — especially depending on their age."
Clearly, if the mere presence of a dog makes you miserable, you shouldn't try to introduce one to your family. "If you are always sneezing and coughing when dogs are around you should not buy a dog without more research," says Emma Wood, a dog owner and blogger at PetCare Pet Insurance. But there is some wiggle room here. While no dog breeds are truly hypoallergenic, some breeds are better than others for allergy sufferers. If you're thinking of adopting a dog but don't know if you're allergic, consider taking an allergy test first. Finally, if you're determined to have a dog, you can consider immunotherapy — allergy shots — to increase your tolerance to dander, saliva, etc.
Keep in mind that a dog has to fit you and your family's current lifestyle and environment, but also what the future might hold. "A dog will be a member of your family for many years to come," notes Christian Steinmeier of Koala Pets. "Before you decide to get [a dog], you should prove if dog ownership aligns with your future goals. Planning to relocate from the countryside to a city? Want to make a sabbatical? Make sure it fits the breed's needs. While living in a city can work well with smaller breeds, intercontinental traveling does not."
Dog breeds run the gamut in terms of how much energy, patience, training, and so forth they require. "Companion animals should match the lifestyle of the family and family members," Hunter Mayer says. If you take the time to research the right breed for your family, chances are you'll be rewarded with an animal who naturally fits into and adapts to your world. If you're not willing to do that work, reconsider dog ownership.
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