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Why Get a Dog? Pros and Cons of Having a Dog

By Aviram K.
May 8, 2021
5 min read
Why Get a Dog? Pros and Cons of Having a Dog
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

When I first contemplated getting my first dog, it took me quite a while to finally go ahead and get one.

Even though I researched a lot about dogs before actually doing it, I never really encountered both sides of the equation.

I always liked dogs and knew why I should get one, but never why I should not.

As a veteran dog owner myself, I have experienced both the good and the bad of having a dog. If you are considering getting a dog, here’s my advice for you:

Get a dog if you want less stress and loneliness and more social connections, physical activity, and meaning in your life. However, dogs are entirely dependant on you and can be expensive. They can also be messy and even destructive at times, especially when they are still puppies.

Having a dog is a beautiful and life-enriching experience but is not something to take lightly. You need to be absolutely sure you can also handle the less convenient things that come with dog ownership.

In this article, I will explore the advantages and disadvantages of having a dog so you’ll be able to more accurately tell if you should get a dog or not.

Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll know if a dog is worth it for you and your family.

Let’s start.

Table of Contents
Advantages of Having a Dog
Disadvantages of Having a Dog
Why Should Families Have a Dog?
How Children Benefit from Having a Dog
Is Owning a Dog Worth It?

Advantages of Having a Dog


There are so many advantages to having a dog. Ever notice your dog-owning friends seem happier and healthier than your pet-less friends?

There may be evidence behind this observation. Science-based studies actually back up the powerful benefits of owning a dog.

Dogs Give You a Sense of Meaning

Taking care of another life is a huge responsibility. Responsibility is both challenging and inconvenient but, most importantly, gives meaning to your life. Your dog will become another thing to live for and give you another good reason to wake up refreshed in the morning.

Dogs Make You Less Lonely

A dog’s constant companionship can help owners feel less alone. A dog’s loving presence can help combat isolation and increase feelings of connectedness.

Dogs Relief Stress

Petting a dog lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels. It also relaxes muscle tension and slows down breathing and heart rate. All these physical benefits help to decrease stress and anxiety.

Dogs Make You Happier

Looking into your dog’s eyes can raise levels of the “love hormone,” oxytocin. Dog ownership is also associated with lower levels of depression and increased well-being.

Dogs Improve Your Social Life

Being out with a dog is an instant conversation starter. This helps dog owners have an easier time making friends. People who have a strong connection to their dogs tend to have strong bonds in their community too.

Dogs Can Improve Your Heart Health

Those with heart conditions benefit from a dog’s calming presence. The stress-reducing connection between man and dog can lower the risk of early death.

Dogs Keep You More Physically Active

Dogs need exercise, and this means their owners will move more as well. Taking a dog out for a walk or to play means dog parents get to enjoy the fruits of getting more exercise themselves.

Dogs Can Ease Aging Effects

Dogs can improve the cognition of elderly patients suffering from mental illness and dementia.

Dogs Give You Emotional Support

Having a dog increases our coping skills through the ups and downs of life. Dogs can even reduce PTSD symptoms in military veterans.

Disadvantages of Having a Dog


With all the benefits of having a dog, it’s hard to imagine that there could be any drawbacks.

The disadvantages of having a dog are not so much about the actual dog but the commitment a dog requires. I would be doing you a disservice if I only spoke about the benefits and did not discuss the downsides:

Dogs Are Completely Dependent on You

Dogs need you for everything. From feedings, walks, cleanings, and care on every level; they can’t survive without you.

Your dog will still need to go out to use the bathroom regardless of how harsh the weather is. You will still have to feed your dog no matter how late your meeting at work is running.

For you, it means less time and freedom to do other things, quite similar to having a child.

For example, you won’t be able to go on vacation as easily anymore. You’ll first have to find a decent place and caretaker for your dog before you can leave.

Dogs Are a Financial Responsibility

There’s no way around it; dogs can be expensive. Discounting the initial investment, owning a dog can cost from $1,500 to almost $10,000 a year, depending on multiple factors.

You want to make sure you’re prepared to pay for:

  • Food
  • Routine and sometimes unexpected or emergency medical care
  • Grooming
  • Toys and treats
  • Essentials like beds, collars, leashes & more
  • Petsitters or boarding
  • Training Classes

Dogs Can Be Messy and Inconvenient

Dogs can be a handful and even downright destructive.

Prepare yourself for potential bathroom accidents, chewing on furniture, and knocking things over. Especially if the dog is still a puppy.

You’ll need to invest time, energy, and resources into training the dog to become well-behaved and easy to live with.

Depending on the breed, dogs may also shed a lot, leaving hair everywhere. You may have to do extra cleaning and replace damaged items from time to time.

Why Should Families Have a Dog?

Families should consider bringing a dog into their home to experience all of the mental and physical benefits of dog ownership.

Not all dog breeds fit the needs of a family with children. If you’re looking for a good family dog, take note of the following best dog breeds for families with children:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Bulldog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Beagle
  • Pug
  • Irish Setter
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Newfoundland
  • French Bulldog
  • Collie

There are some things a family may want to consider when thinking of getting a dog. A family may want to get a dog if they:

  • Know their finances allow for the various expenses of having a dog
  • Can get a dog breed that does well with children
  • Have explored all their options like fostering, adopting a puppy vs. an older dog
  • Are ready for the responsibility of adding another member to the family

If you have considered the points above and feel like it’s a green light for your family to get a dog, that’s great! Next, I will explore perhaps the most compelling reason for a family to get a dog: the wonderful effect dogs have on children.

How Children Benefit from Having a Dog


A significant advantage when considering if a dog is right for your family is the positive effect dogs have on children. The easy-going and kind disposition of a dog is a perfect match for young children. Dogs help children develop by helping them experience:

  • Unconditional loyalty and love
  • Stronger identity and independence
  • Better self-esteem
  • Increased empathy
  • More physical activity
  • Greater responsibility
  • A stronger immune system

Is Owning a Dog Worth It?


I may be a tad bit biased, but my answer is an overwhelming YES!

There are very real things to think about when considering getting a dog. Bringing a living, breathing animal into your home is a huge decision.

You want to be sure you are ready to devote yourself to a dog wholeheartedly, both financially and mentally.

Once you’ve come to terms with the reality of the commitment, there is nothing like having a dog. The benefits to a dog owner’s mental, emotional, and physical health are tough to beat.

It is wise to consider if you can handle the expense and have patience with occasional doggy messes. If you’ve thought it all through and feel confident, getting a dog may be one of the best decisions of your life.

Before Ownership
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