There are a million reasons to adopt a dog from a shelter.
But what about the reasons not to? If your decision to adopt is not well considered, you could find yourself completely unprepared.
Here are 5 reasons you should not use to justify adopting a dog.
1. To Teach Your Children Responsibility
Adopting a new dog is a big responsibility and one that can last for 10 or more years. At a minimum, dogs require:
- Regular feeding
- Fresh water
- Routine potty breaks
- Play time
An adopted dog should be a member of the family, not a lesson for a family member. Yet some people adopt dogs to teach their children about responsibility. The goal of the adopters is to assign the dog’s care to a child, and often the punishment for not keeping up with that responsibility is losing the dog (in other words, the dog goes back to the shelter).
Always remember that an adult is responsible for the family pet’s care. Though teaching children about the importance of responsibilities involving the dog is a great idea, if your child doesn’t keep up with that responsibility, then it’s your role as an adult to step in and make sure that your pup is well cared for and loved.
2. As Motivation to Exercise
Sometimes that discounted gym membership still isn’t enough motivation to get in a good daily workout — or even a weekly workout. We’ve all been there.
Don’t use a new dog as a solution to exercise motivation. Adopting a dog because you need a reason to get out of the house and walk more is simply a bad idea.
Adopting means more than just walking away a few pounds. It involves financial preparedness, future planning, patience and dedication.
Getting into shape because you’re having so much fun running on the beach with your new best pal is a perk when adopting a new dog, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason for taking Buster home.
3. For Protection
Dogs have been used for protection for ages. They are still regularly used as guards and even soldiers. They have protective instincts and even the fluffiest, cutest little puppies will guard their homes from intruders (including the insidious mailman). But adopting a dog primarily for personal protection is a dangerous idea.
Buster should, first and foremost, be a family member, loved and cared for. As he settles into his new home, he may bark when visitors knock at the door, or watch out the window at passersby. But he should never be chained outside as a deterrent to individuals approaching your house.
Consider a security system or pepper spray if you want protection. If you’re looking for a furry friend, adopt a dog.
4. As a Gift
Adopting a dog to give as a surprise gift is a potentially huge mistake. Consider what you’re giving:
- A 10-year commitment
- A financial responsibility
- A living creature who requires training, patience and attention
If you’re thinking about adopting a dog to give as a gift, you probably know the recipient pretty well. But do you know that person well enough to choose his or her next family member? Are you comfortable deciding what sort of best friend he or she is going to have for the next 10–15 years?
These happy adopted dogs were chosen by people ready to make a commitment to them:
The only time you should consider adopting a dog as a gift is if the dog is a gift to your entire family, you’re assuming responsibility as the adult and everyone is ready for a pet. Otherwise, you may be better off paying for the adoption fee as a gift for a friend who wants to choose a shelter pet.
5. To Keep Your Other Dog Company
No one likes leaving a dog at home, especially when Buster makes those pathetic whimpers and howls when you leave. Dogs with separation anxiety are especially difficult to leave for hours at a time. Many require crating, treats to keep them occupied and a radio or TV for distraction.
Don’t let that guilt lead you to adopt a second dog to keep Buster company, though. Adopt another dog because you feel prepared for a second pup, not because you want to entertain the dog you currently have.
Adopting a dog is a wonderful decision and one that will change your life. Just make sure you’re making that decision for the right reasons.