-12 As a dog training instructor, I’m often asked for advice on choosing a dog. A common misconception among prospective dog owners is that the main concern is matching a dog to your living area.
People who live in flats and apartments tell me they’re contemplating a small dog. These dogs tend to be highly energetic and yappy, not a good combination for apartment-dwellers and their neighbours.
Others with big backyards will say they’re thinking of a larger dog. Left alone in the backyard, these dogs soon demonstrate how destructive a bored dog can be.
Lifestyle, not living area
It’s lifestyle, not living area, that should determine whether you buy a dog. Regardless of size, dogs need a lot of attention. In addition to regular exercise, play and training, dogs need a commitment that borders on monotony but is vitally important for ensuring a settled, stress-free dog.
People seem to forget that dogs live for a long time. Playful puppies grow into wilful two-year-olds, mature around five-years-old and then slowly slide from middle-aged eight-year-olds into elderly dogs of twelve to fourteen years or more. Dogs are long-term investments.
As with any investment, prospective dog owners should research their options beforehand. Visit a local dog club, watch how different dogs behave, listen to them and talk to their owners.
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Above all, people should not buy a cute puppy or adopt a rescue dog unless they are fully prepared for the ongoing responsibility and cost of being a dog owner.
Because as my Harry, who turns ten on Xmas Eve, reminds us, a dog is not just for Xmas. As responsible dog owners, please pass on this message to any family or friends considering buying a dog this Xmas.
© 2008 Robert Fairhead
I wrote this piece in 2007 and it was published in the Village Voice newspaper December 2007 and in my dog club's newsletter in November 2008. I was fortunate to have three more Xmases with my dear old, Harry.
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert Fairhead is an editor and writer at Tall And True, and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com.
His favourite pastimes include reading and writing, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Football with his son. He is also a part-time dog trainer and runs classes at his local dog training club and through Robert's Responsible Dog Training.
Robert has worked as an electrician, a computer programmer, and a sales and marketing consultant, and he is the principal copywriter at Rocher Communications.
His book reviews and writing on dogs have appeared in newspapers and online. And in 2020, he published a collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story.
Robert has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.