Five things you need to know before getting a dog

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Most people adore cute puppies and can easily get caught up in the fun as they run around madly and cover you with sloppy kisses. From there it’s a very short step to suddenly being responsible for another living being and the prospect of spending the next decade or more together. It is an amazing experience but it comes with responsibility.

Dogs really are a man’s best friend but that friendship comes at a cost. If you are to get the best out of sharing your life with a pooch, you need to know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for before you fall in love.

1. Dogs take a lot of time and energy

If your life is already busy, adding the demands of a dog into the equation could spell trouble. Dogs take up a lot of time. They need training, walking, cleaning up after (in the beginning) companionship and playtime. Expect to spend at least an hour or two each and every day on walks alone.

During the puppy period, a further hour or two per day for training and more time for bonding will be necessary too. The more time you invest during this period, the better behaved and adjusted the dog will be.

2. Not all breeds are created equal

Some breeds are exceptionally high energy, some breeds need a job to do or they become frustrated. Some dog breeds are fantastic with young children, others not so much. Large dog breeds need lots of exercise and space, where smaller breeds can cope better in smaller spaces.

Regardless of how cute they look as a puppy, you need to be sensible and consider your home, lifestyle and needs. Then select a dog breed to suit.

3. Puppies do not arrive fully trained

Puppies are adorable creatures but they are like infants. They need to be taught how to behave, what is expected of them and what is not. They need a significant investment in time, effort and patience to follow even the simplest command.

The rewards are worth every second of that investment. In return for your efforts you get a safe, obedient dog that causes little trouble. Training allows you to relax and enjoy your time together when you’re exploring the world.

4. Dogs need rules and consistency

Dogs are cute and they may end up as your baby, but they need rules and strict limitations on their behaviour to keep them balanced. They also need consistency in how you treat them, train them and behave towards them.

If you train them to respond to a particular word or command, you must always use that command. If you expect a certain behaviour at a certain time, you must ensure you get it and reward or instruct as necessary.

5. A tired dog is a happy dog

Frequent walks, plenty of play, lots of games and training will all help keep your pooch stimulated, interested and tired. A tired dog is a happy one and the more you do with them, the more fulfilled they will feel and the closer the bond between you.

If a dog chews, raids the bin or steals things, it is usually because they are bored. If they misbehave once trained, it is usually because they lack stimulation. Make sure to work them, walk them, play with them and keep training them and you will avoid the vast majority of unwanted behaviour.

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It looks like a lot of work doesn’t it? It is, but the investment in time and effort is rewarded infinitely with the love and companionship a dog can provide. Like everything in life, the more you put in the more you get out. That pretty much sums up dog ownership!

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