You shouldn’t buy a dog:
- From a pet store, as they often come from puppy mills
- From a shelter that doesn’t ask questions about you before letting you take a dog home
- If your life doesn’t suit having a dog right now
- If you’re not committed to dealing with the challenges of dog ownership
I’ve always thought dogs are family members. Freya, my Bichon Frise, is certainly a much-loved part of my family. I put a lot of thought into whether to get a dog long before I did end up getting her.
But just as there are many reasons to get a dog, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t, too. I’m going to look at the most important reasons in this article.
If you are thinking about getting a dog right now, sit tight and read this article first. It may change your mind about how and whether to do it.
Puppies in Pet Shops Often Come from Puppy Mills
Did you know that around 90% of puppies you see in pet stores are from puppy mills? These are places that breed puppies to sell them. It’s a production line. The bottom line is money rather than the welfare of the pups.
If you want to buy a puppy, make sure you never get one from a pet shop. If we all stuck to this, the puppy mills would hopefully disappear.
There are other reasons to avoid pet stores too. Your pup is more likely to have:
- Physical problems
- Psychological problems
- Contagious conditions that can potentially transfer to humans
The upbringing of pups in puppy mills makes all these things far more likely to occur. That cute little puppy in the pet store could lead you into a world of problems.
And remember, the store makes money from the sale of puppies. The mills and pet store owners all financially benefit from the sale. You get the consequences of the process – and they’re not usually good ones either.
Be Aware of Certifications and Licenses
Do you look for qualifications and certificates when thinking about where to find your dog?
You may have heard of USDA licensed dog breeders. The USDA inspects all those who wish to breed dogs commercially. However, many think the standards are not up to scratch. You’re still buying a puppy or dog kept in conditions you wouldn’t keep them in – and the people breeding them are doing so for a living.
Conversely, if you want to buy a purebred puppy, you should look for a responsible breeder via the American Kennel Club (AKC). They offer a search facility for parent clubs relating to each breed.
Don’t Buy a Puppy Without Seeing the Mother
Bichon Frise puppies rarely – if ever – turn up at shelters. I knew this was the right breed for me and for my lifestyle. So, I researched breeders and found one near me. I then arranged to visit to see the puppies and their mother.
The ideal scenario is to see both parents, but this doesn’t often happen. You’ll find someone else tends to own the dad. Arranging for everyone to meet up doesn’t usually work.
It’s important to do this because you want to be sure the mother is in good health. You can also check on the conditions the puppy has been born and raised in for the first few weeks of their life.
Alarm bells should sound in your head if the breeder tells you the mother isn’t around. It doesn’t matter what reason they give – walk away if you’re told this. A responsible breeder knows how important it is for you to see the puppy with the mother. They’ll make sure you can do so.
Adopted Dogs May Have Behavioral Issues
Rescuing a dog from a shelter is admirable – but are you prepared for it? If the shelter picks up a stray dog, they won’t have any idea of its history. Neither will you.
People adopt plenty of adorable dogs from shelters every year. However, some run into problems with dogs that turn out to be aggressive, impossible to train, or don’t fit in with the family that adopts them.
You won’t always be able to get a full history of a dog from a shelter. However, you should know whether you are prepared to put in the work needed to adopt a dog and welcome it to your home.
Some shelters are happy for anyone to adopt. That’s not ideal. The shelter should ask you lots of questions to make sure their dog is going to a wonderful home.
You should have questions for the shelter too. If the shelter evades them, go elsewhere.
Your Lifestyle Doesn’t Suit a Dog
So far, I’ve talked about the places to avoid when looking to buy a dog or puppy. I’ve covered puppy mills, pet stores, breeders, and shelters.
But what about you?
It’s obvious you need to get your new puppy or dog from one of two places:
- A responsible and recognized breeder
- A shelter
Either way, you need to be prepared for becoming a dog owner too. There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t buy a puppy or dog, so we’ll look at those now.
If you have a busy life, you’re out of the house a lot, and you have little to no spare time, you shouldn’t even consider adopting a dog.
I work from home, so I knew I’d have plenty of time to devote to Freya when she came to live with me.
I also love walking and could think of nothing better than being able to take a furry companion with me on these walks. Freya and I have discovered a lot of cool walks to go on and places to explore together in the past few years.
Some people adopt dogs because they want all the good times and none of the work. If you cannot realistically take your dog out for a walk at least once a day, probably twice depending on the breed, don’t get one.
You also need to think about the cost of owning a dog or puppy. You’ve got the cost involved with buying them, but there are ongoing costs too:
- Veterinarian bills
- Harness, leash, and so on
- Kennel fees if you go on vacation
Those are just the basics. You’re going to own the dog for its lifetime, which could be up to around 15 years. Keep this in mind before making this commitment.
You May Not Be Ready for Challenges
I doubt there is a single dog owner who didn’t go through challenges with the pooch. That goes double for puppies.
I had to teach Freya to sit, stay, and leave (ideal if she picked something up that she shouldn’t have, like a chicken bone while out on a walk). I had to potty train her, and that took ages. Months, I think. I was frustrated and stressed about that one, but she eventually got it.
I’ve read plenty of stories from people who almost gave up a puppy at some stage during the potty-training phase. Are you prepared to persevere, no matter what? I thought I was, and I still found it difficult to do.
Other common issues include separation anxiety. If you work from home, you won’t have the issue of leaving your dog alone for hours each day while you go to work. However, it could mean you are always with your dog. That leads to an increased chance of separation anxiety when you inevitably have to go away for longer.
If challenges arise, you might need to commit to hiring a dog trainer or behavioralist to help you resolve those issues. Make sure you are prepared to do this before adopting a dog or puppy.
You Just Want the Good Bits
This follows on from what I’ve already said. Every dog has challenges. You must be prepared for that. Every family photo you’ve ever seen involving a lovable pooch hides the reality of making sure that dog is well loved and cared for.
If you commit to getting a dog, you’re going all in. You’re ready to cope with everything.
Make sure you are realistic about the challenge before you start. Read books. Watch videos. Learn as much as you can about your chosen breed. Learn more about mixed breeds if you are intent on getting a dog from a shelter. Expand your knowledge.
Bottom Line? Tread with Care
There are lots of reasons why getting a dog may not be right for you. It might be in future, but not just yet.
You can also see how important it is to find the right dog from the right place. Use the above suggestions as a guide, so you stand a better chance of finding the dog you’ll love and take care of for many years to come.