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Updated: Apr 25

man woman and child petting dog at shelter

Adopting a pet dog isn’t like taking a walk through the grocery store and picking out what cereal you like best – it’s a big decision that one has to be sure they’re ready for. 

Committing to taking care of another being requires a lot of thought and consideration. Yes, owning a dog can be a lovely experience – they’re loyal companions, you’re guaranteed some fun moments as you help them train to navigate the world, you finally have a motivating reason to go out for walks and get some fresh air, and they can be trained to fetch the remote for you when you don’t feel like getting up. Most people are already aware of the benefits of owning a dog, and have probably watched their fair share of movies where a charming canine made an appearance as a sidekick or as a staple of a loving childhood home. 

Most people who adopt dogs are eager for these experiences, but may get too caught up in the excitement to do some research first and make sure they’re responsibly adopting.

There are many factors that have to be taken into account when planning to take on a pet. For example, what do your finances look like? Can you cover vet visits and food for your furry friend? Are you willing to be woken up at 2am on a winter night to take your dog out to the backyard for a bathroom break? Do you have the energy to train your dog and the patience for when it occasionally decides to have a wrestling match with your good pillows? Is your lifestyle compatible with having a pet?

Dogs tend to live for a long time compared to other pets, usually hitting an average of about 10 years, so it’s no minor feat to adopt a dog. 

In addition, dogs are highly sensitive creatures, and can experience sadness, bouts of depression leading to loss of appetite, anxiety, and decreased energy, especially when they suddenly lose something they’re attached to, whether it’s an owner or a chew toy, or experience an abrupt change in environment. Dogs who have been re-homed have been reported to display these behaviors, especially anxiety. They tend to pace back and forth, whine excessively, become aggressive to protect themselves, lose interest in activities and toys that used to previously interest them, or even develop a habit of hiding for a while. 

Clearly, the loss of a home and companion takes an emotional toll, not unlike what we humans go through when we experience the loss of someone we care about as well. Rehoming these emotional creatures only creates distress and confusion for them, so out of compassion it should be avoided as often as possible. The best way to prevent this from happening is to be absolutely certain that you’re ready for both the ups, and especially the downs, of being a pet owner, and making sure that you’re emotionally, physically and financially in the position to take on that responsibility.

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