Dog Owner's Guide

Why get a dog

More commonly referred to as "man's best friend", dogs are very much a big part of our lives as animal lovers. A dog can be a trusted friend, a reliable and trustworthy confidante, and in most cases, a member of the family.

We often experience a certain joy when getting a new dog, may it be our first pet or an addition to our extended pet family. We at pets magazine, along with the various animal welfare groups stand firm in the belief that we should refrain from getting a dog out of impulse.

Undeniably, it may be hard to resist those cute puppy eyes, that adorable wagging tail and that enthusiastic bark that greets you when you first get acquainted with a pooch. However, we must always bear in mind that as the appointed or chosen human guardians of dogs, we are the ones with better judgement when it comes to our decision and our actions. We are the ones responsible for our decision to get a dog and also the ones responsible for the overall well-being of the dog once he is under our care.

There are many factors to consider when getting a dog and there are commitments aside from just effort and time. The importance of making an informed decision when it comes to getting a dog exceeds far beyond those cute those puppy eyes are and that adorable wagging tail. Take your time to do some research to know what you are getting yourself into. To start off, here are some important points you have to know before jumping ahead with any other decisions.

A Pet is for life

Dogs can live up to an average of 13 years. With the proper care, diet and veterinary attention, some breeds can even surpass that and live longer. Simply put, we have to be prepared to be the guardians of our dog for his entire life, and we should, because the experience of changing owners would put a dog under traumatic stress.

Some future events in your own life that may affect the life of your pet in one way or another include:

  • change in marital status
  • change in place of residence *
  • change in employment status
  • pregnancy in the family
  • addition of children in the family
  • overseas posting due to work or other reasons

* When changing your place of residence, take heed of the local rules and regulations and plan ahead for you and your dog. For a list of dog breeds allowed in HDBs, refer to the section on List of Dog Breeds allowed in HDB.

Budgetary Concerns

It comes as no surprise, having a dog will require a permanent financial devotion on your part as owner. There is more to budgetary concerns than just food and veterinary fees. To avoid getting any "hidden costs", here are some of the recurring expenses that you may incur for your dog:

  • Dog food (dry or canned)
  • Supplements (if necessary)
  • Dog training (if necessary)
  • Dog grooming services & grooming products (mainly for long-haired breeds)
  • Veterinary fees and medication
  • Dog toys and treats

Time Management

As appointed guardians of our dogs, it is a given that we treat our pets with love and commit a fraction of our time to them. On top of providing them with the basic necessities, take note that dogs need to be bathed more often than cats. There is no definite number of times you should bathe your dog per month but a simple answer to this would be, as often as he needs it. Dogs who spend more time outdoors may require more baths than dogs who spend more time indoors.

Dogs are very sociable animals and they thrive on physical and mental stimulation. Inactivity may lead to an unhappy pet so make sure that you can devote some time to play with your dog daily. Dogs who have been home alone all day may become overly enthusiastic when you come home and will bark continuously to get your attention. If you think you cannot handle this hyperactivity, you should consider how you can make way for a new dog in your life.

Young children & Toddlers

By nature, dogs and children are generally great together. Their natural bond however, should not be taken for granted because a child's smallness in size and unpredictable behaviour may cause problems between the child and the dog. Parents should be mindful and keep an eye out for their children when they are interacting with the dog or guide them through the proper ways of handling a dog. 

In fact, there are 4 reasons why dogs are great for children. Firstly, dogs teach responsibility as dogs help children to learn to take initiative, remain grounded, and teach them that another living thing depends on them. Secondly, dogs keep children active. Dogs need to be walked regularly and your child will gain all the health benefits from the activity. The third reason being that dogs help to improve social skills. Studies have shown that children who are around a dog tend to be more sociable and less shy. Last but not least, dogs boost the immune system of children! Dogs bring in different kinds of germs and bacteria that a child’s immune system learns to build defences against. This will help them fight off other illnesses and immune threatening dangers as they grow up. 

Expecting families should strongly reconsider if they are getting a puppy. Babies and puppies require about the same amount of care and attention, so think hard whether or not you will be able to care of the two at the same time.

Allergic to dogs

Being allergic to dogs does not mean that it is the end of the line for animal lovers suffering from this natural condition. The allergies are caused by the allergens secreted by the oil glands, dander (dead skin cells), saliva and urine.

Although the term "hypoallergenic dogs" is commonly used, there are really no breeds of dogs that are non-allergenic. However, there are certain breeds that can help alleviate your allergies. When choosing a dog, you can opt for breeds that are curly-coated, hairless or shed less hair.

Other measures that can you take to lessen your allergies would be to keep your house clean and to make sure that your dog is bathed and groomed regularly to get rid of excessive dander (which is the main cause of the allergies).

Prized furnitures & fittings

Like humans, dogs love furniture. We like the sofa and so does our beloved canine companion for the same reasons that we do – comfort. When you have already made up your mind that your new dog will not be allowed on furniture, plan ahead and get your dog a comfortable pet bed that would give him the support, warmth and comfort that he needs.

Some pet owners are alright with their dogs jumping onto furniture, some even encourage their dogs to sit beside them but if you know you will have issues with this kind of arrangement, but you dearly love your pet (and your antique table), it is better to train your dog about not being allowed on it right from the start. Training will take a lot of patience on your part as a pet owner especially if your dog already has developed this habit. Old habits die hard and it's the same for our dogs. If you are quick to put out the white flag, then compromising with your dog would be another solution. You can try using slipcovers to cover your prized furniture to protect it.

But if you really have a personality of an overly obsessive compulsive person who cannot compromise on anything and lives in a museum full of priceless antiques, we suggest just getting a fish.