Advantages & Disadvantages in Keeping Dogs As Pets

By Bridget Johnson

Opening the door at the end of a grueling day to see that wag, that toothy grin and slobbery kisses waiting melts away stress. Going inside to find that your pup left an unwelcome present on the carpet or treated your shoes as a chew toy can send your blood pressure back up. While the advantages of dog ownership are many, the disadvantages often can be overcome with good training and pairing the right canine to the right human.

Behavior Issues

When people consider getting a dog, behavioral factors weighed can include barking, aggression, jumpiness and general good canine manners.

Not only can breeds vary widely on these factors, but dogs also have individual personalities that make good matchmaking to owners as well as environments essential. A dog with a loud, frequent bark wouldn't be the best match for apartment dwellers, while a quiet pup may not make the best watchdog on a family farm.

A huge perk of tackling any behavioral problems in a dog-training class is strengthening the bond between owner and pooch.

Canine Companionship

It may be cliche to call dog man's best friend, but there's a reason why the old adage sticks around. While general characteristics vary by breed, dogs are loyal, affectionate, playful, eager to please and poised to make you burst out laughing with their antics.

For all the great companionship they offer, dogs can become so attached to their owners that they suffer from separation anxiety. This can be challenging for a pet parent to deal with, as it may manifest in destructive behaviors after you walk out the door. You'll have to assert yourself as a pack leader to work with your dog to ease her anxiety.

Clean or Dirty

Dogs get a bad rap for being slobbering creatures who eat things on the lawn you dare not even describe before leaving muddy tracks throughout the house. Some breeds are easier to housetrain than others. More rambunctious pups may bring in or create more messes. Others may leave human members of the family sniffling with allergies.

Thankfully, the pet industry helps remove some of these dirty disadvantages, from self-serve doggy washes at many pet shops to vast varieties of shampoos and conditioners to address every skin condition or dander worry. Housetraining can be aided by old-fashioned piddle pads or faux grass patches that look more chic. And after you have a memory-making romp with your pup in a fresh bank of snow, you may not mind wiping up a few ice crystals.

Health Concerns

When determining whether you can keep a dog, you must account for health care costs. In addition to regular vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, monthly heartworm medications and annual testing, regular exams and dental cleanings, you can get hit with emergencies ranging from explosive doggy diarrhea to heart ailments. Veterinary care can be expensive, though this can be eased with an insurance policy, which carries a monthly premium.

You also may find that your dog benefits from certain herbal supplements and daily vitamins; healthy dog foods can cost a pretty penny depending on the size and energy of your pooch. But like dog, like owner, you could find that feeding your dog natural, healthy food and treats and seeing positive results can inspire you to make healthier changes in your own eating habits, as well.

Activity Partner

Depending on the dog breed you choose, you can have a running mate, a friend to play catch with in the park, or a pooch who's totally up for a road trip or leisurely boat ride.

But as you depend on your dog for companionship, he depends on you for those runs and playtime to get much-needed exercise. Different dogs have different activity levels and exercise needs, so you may have to invest in doggy day care or a dog-walking service if you spend much of the week at work.

When you do take the time to hit the sidewalks with your dog, you'll also reap the health benefits of a little exercise.

Consider the Commitment

Many dogs wind up in shelters because owners don't consider how a particularly breed fits with their family or lifestyle, or because they didn't weigh the cost of properly caring for a pup. The ASPCA reports that every year more than a million dogs are euthanized in shelters.

Honestly ask yourself if you have the time and resources to commit to a dog. If you can truly accept a dog into your family, adopting can save a life.