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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 improve the cognition of elderly patients suffering from mental illness and dementia.
Having a dog increases our coping skills through the ups and downs of life. Dogs can even reduce PTSD symptoms in military veterans.
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 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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.