Think you’re ready to own a dog? They make great pets. They’re adorable. They love to spend time with their humans, and they show affection in numerous ways. You can find a small dog if you live in the city or a big dog if you have more room to roam. Clearly, dogs are great. But what about you? Are you the kind of person who’s going to be a good dog owner?
Surprisingly enough, there are many types of people who really shouldn’t own a dog. Worried you’re one of them? Read on to learn about the kinds of people who don’t usually make good dog owners — and make sure you’re really ready to bring a puppy or an older dog into your home.
1. People who won’t take the time to properly train a dog
Dog training is difficult. It takes time. And it requires research into the methods that work best for different dogs in different settings. People who won’t take the time to properly train a dog probably shouldn’t own one. At best, you’ll end up with an unruly animal who doesn’t always respect the rules of your house. At worst, you’ll have a dog who doesn’t know his place within your family and doesn’t get along well with new people or other animals. It’s in everybody’s best interest to appropriately train your dog. That takes time (and perseverance). Anyone who doesn’t have the time or tenacity for obedience training probably should not own a dog.
2. People who won’t take the time to educate themselves about dogs
When you see adorable dogs at the shelter, taking one home seems pretty simple. Can you provide food, shelter, and love? Then, you might already feel like you’d be a great pet owner. But dogs aren’t quite that simple. You need to take the time to educate yourself about what dogs need. How will you feed a dog? Where will he play and get exercise? How will you socialize him? What medical expenses can you expect? (And which ones are impossible to predict?) What parasites and diseases are common in your area? How often will you need to groom your dog? Many of these questions are difficult to answer ahead of time. But they can help you figure out what taking care of a dog actually involves.
3. People who don’t understand how a dog will actually behave
We’ve all been lured into a shelter or pet shop by adorable puppy faces and happily wagging tails. But dog behavior isn’t all kisses, cuddles, and happy walks around the park. Behavior varies from breed to breed and from dog to dog. It’s important to educate yourself about what you can expect from the various dogs you’re considering. Helping a dog adjust to living in your home after being at the shelter, for instance, can bring a few surprises. You probably wouldn’t have a baby without reading up on what newborns, infants, and toddlers actually do. So be sure you know how dogs actually behave and the challenges you might face.
4. People who can’t or won’t budget for all of a dog’s needs
Owning a pet doesn’t come cheap. Dogs need vet appointments. And they require preventative medications and vaccinations. Plus, they sometimes get sick or injured. And you’ll need to provide food, treats, toys, and other essentials, too. People who can’t or won’t budget for extra expenses will find it stressful to take care of a dog. Even with the best of intentions, you’ll also need to have the budget to ensure you take good care of your dog. People who can’t commit to expenditures, such as regular vet visits, probably shouldn’t have a dog.
5. People who move frequently
Sure, some dogs are adaptable and easy-going. But others need stability and predictable routines. It can be hard on both you and your dog to move houses or apartments frequently. So if you know you have a series of moves in your future, you should think about holding off on bringing a dog home — especially if you plan to adopt a grown dog or one who might take some time to adapt to a new home in the first place. Moving frequently won’t make you a bad dog owner. Frequent moves just make it harder for everyone to feel secure and settled, your dog included.
6. People who won’t crate-train a dog
Getting a dog, like having a child, requires a lot of reading and research. You should follow expert advice on the best way to raise a balanced, happy, well-adjusted dog (or child). And on both counts, some recommended techniques might sound counterintuitive to newbies — like crate-training your dog, for instance. Many people think confining a dog is cruel. But a crate becomes an important part of training. And it provides a secure place for your dog that will keep it safe in certain situations. Can’t get on board with the idea of a crate? Then, think twice about getting a dog.
7. People who work long hours — and won’t make arrangements for their dog
Many people have jobs that require them to work extremely long hours. But unless their workplace welcomes dogs, that’s not an ideal situation for Fido. Dogs need bathroom breaks and time to run around during the day. And even if you have a secure, fenced yard to leave your dog in while you’re at work, he can get bored and lonely by himself — not to mention encounter many dangers. If you work long hours, you should probably arrange for a pet sitter, a dog walker, or doggie daycare. But if you can’t or don’t want to make those arrangements, a dog might not be the right pet for you.
8. People who travel extensively
Leaving your dog at the kennel when you go on vacation? No big deal. But traveling so much that your dog spends more time at the kennel than he does at home? Likely not the best situation for either of you. Dogs crave companionship and routine. They need time to be social with you, other people, and other animals. So if you won’t be around enough to consistently spend time with your dog, neither of you will be happy. An isolated period of frequent business trips won’t hurt. But anyone who spends more time on the road than at home probably shouldn’t own a dog.
9. People who live in tiny spaces and want a big dog
Love dogs? Then, you probably know whether you favor little dogs or big dogs (or dogs who fall somewhere in between). If you love large breeds but live in a tiny apartment, then you should probably wait until you live in a bigger space to get the German shepherd or Great Pyrenees of your dreams. Neither you nor the dog will find it easy to coexist in a space that’s just too small. Either opt for a dog who can live comfortably within the square footage that you have, or wait to get a dog until you have a roomier home.
10. People who won’t spay or neuter their dog
Like crates and kennels, spaying and neutering are important obligations for dog owners — obligations some people don’t feel compelled to fulfill. But if you won’t spay or neuter your dog (and aren’t a professional breeder) you shouldn’t own a dog. Shelters are overpopulated with dogs looking for homes because irresponsible pet owners don’t prevent their dogs from breeding. Spaying and neutering also helps animals live longer, healthier lives. The procedures might also help your dog behave better. Plus, the surgery costs a lot less than caring for a litter of puppies.
11. People with severe allergies
Plenty of people love flowers but can’t be around them without sneezing. The same thing goes for dogs. If you think you might be allergic to dogs, spend lots of time with different breeds before you commit to owning a dog of your own. Some dogs can be more irritating than others for people with allergies. But if you or someone in your household has serious allergies, you’ll want to do your research and spend time around other people’s dogs to figure out whether owning a dog is a realistic goal. If you’re going to be coughing, sneezing, and getting dizzy all the time, you probably shouldn’t own a dog.
12. People who want to give a dog as a gift
A puppy sounds like a great holiday present. And what puppy doesn’t look cute with a satin bow around its neck? But stop right there. Dogs are pretty terrible gifts. Many dogs purchased as gifts get returned to the store (or dropped off at the shelter) each year because dogs are a lot of work. They need food, exercise, grooming, a safe environment, and regular health care. Would you buy somebody any other gift that required lots of attention each day, without talking about it beforehand? Probably not. So don’t try to buy a dog as a gift.
13. People who have pets who probably won’t get along with a dog
If you already own a pet or two, you might be itching to add another to your family. But many pets don’t get along well with others. For every dog-cat pair that has a deep and adorable bond, there are plenty of households with dogs and cats who hate each other. Try to introduce your existing pets to other dogs before you decide to get a dog. Does your cat or dog get along well with your friends’ animals? Great. You can probably get a dog. But if your cat or dog refuses to get along with other animals, you probably won’t want to bring a new dog into your household.
14. People who can’t tolerate any messes at home
When you have a child or get a pet, messes become inevitable. And even people who love their couches (and carpets and kitchen floors) quickly learn to tolerate them. Think carefully about the messes that come with dog ownership before you get one. Dogs get sick, have accidents, and track in dirt from the outdoors. If you don’t have the patience or desire to handle those situations gracefully, you probably shouldn’t own a dog.
15. People who don’t have the energy to run after a puppy or energetic dog
Puppies are adorable. But they aren’t the perfect pet for everybody. And you should consider your own health and stamina when you think about getting a puppy or a grown dog of an energetic breed. Elderly pet owners, for instance, should probably opt for a dog who will be OK taking things slowly. And people with persistent health issues or chronic illnesses might want to choose a dog who’s known to be relatively easy to care for. Knowing your own limits is an important part of many decisions, including the decision to bring a dog into your home.
16. People who are planning to have a child soon
It might be the American dream: a cute home with kids and a dog playing in the yard. But if you’re about to have a baby, rethink your timing on getting a dog. Dogs require more time and attention than you might think. And you’ll probably be running pretty short on both of those things if you have a new baby in the house. Plus, it can get difficult to predict how a dog will interact with a child. Want to reduce the potential for problems? Then, we’d advise holding off on getting a dog until your child gets older.
17. People who think their kids will take care of the dog
Many children beg their parents for a dog. And they promise they’ll be the ones to feed the dog, clean up after the dog, and walk the dog. But think of it this way. Most adults underestimate the amount of time and work dog ownership takes. So how can your kids possibly have an accurate picture of what owning a dog will be like? You can get a dog for your family. Just go into it realizing the burden of caring for the dog will likely fall on you, no matter how much your kids love the dog.
18. People who don’t have time to spend on a dog
Maybe you have a dog-friendly house and dog-loving roommates. Perhaps you know a lot about training a dog and have the budget to take care of inevitable expenses. But do some soul-searching and make sure you have time to spend with a dog. To be happy and healthy, a dog will need to spend a lot of time with you. If you have too many other things to do, it might not be the right time to own a dog. Like most other pets, dogs require a lot of commitment. There’s nothing wrong with realizing you aren’t ready to own a dog — so long as you do your soul-searching before you bring a dog home, not after.