August 1, 2014


The following list of “why not to get a dog”, is only a guideline for best results. I know there are exceptions to every rule. I am expressing my professional opinion backed by many years of experience.

Don’t Get A Dog…

From (most) pet shops. Most reputable breeders don’t usually sell their puppies to pet shops. Why? Because breeders care where the puppies are placed (homed).  Breeders also want to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. They don’t want their dogs or their dogs’ offspring to end up being abandoned or given to a shelter or worse..?  I’ve read up to 90% of Pet shops in the U.S. get their puppies from puppy mill-type operations. AND it’s big corporations that are backing these puppy mills. Many new regulations have made it more difficult for pet shops to buy puppies from puppy mills, and I’m sure if you have the time to do the research, you can find pet shops that are legitimate. I’ve heard from a pet shop owner here in Australia who gets her puppies from a reputable breeder. Unfortunately though, this is not a Country-wide practice. Puppy mills are everywhere, and you can’t even trust many online ads that have puppies for sale. the best thing to do is adopt from a shelter. If you have to have a show breed, go to dog shows and find reputable breeders there, but please consider a shelter to find amazing dogs.

…as a gift for someone. I shouldn’t need to explain why this is a bad idea, but this kind of thing happens more often than you might think. There’s a big difference between overhearing someone say that they want a dog, and them having to care for one day in and day out. Or a child saying they want a puppy, when they have no clue about the amount of care required in owning a pet – heck, you have to remind them to brush their teeth everyday. Unlike a tie, or glass vase, this is one gift that if you have to return it, it could be the end of a life.

…unless you plan on taking the dog and yourself through puppy kindy, basic and advanced obedience courses. So many dogs are abandoned or returned to shelters only 3-6 months after being adopted because of behavior/control issues. Those issues could have been taken care of with a few lessons from a dog friendly trainer/behaviorist, and not much more time per day than you already spend with them. When I trained animal actors we would rescue dogs from shelters and turn them into working actors. It’s not the dog, it’s just the owners’ lack of knowledge.

… unless you’re going to fully socialize them before the age of 4 months. All dogs should be properly socialized and exposed to lots of strange children/adults who pet them, hug them, sleep near them, play with them and hand feed them.  Doing this as early as possible, especially with known aggressive breeds, will greatly reduce aggressive behavior towards people. The benefits of early exposure outweigh the very small risk of a young puppy actually catching something from another dog.

…If the puppy your getting is under 7 weeks old. The period of 4-8 weeks is a crucial socialization period with the mother and other litter mates. It’s the best time to teach the puppy a few ground rules i.e. how to interact with other siblings, how to respect elders, how to read mother and siblings body language, not to wander off, how to have a soft mouth (bite), learn the “Den” concept and a few other lessons. Puppies that are adopted under 6 weeks old are more likely to display aggressive behavior with their owner and have poor social skills with other dogs.

…If you have small children and the breed you’re getting has known aggressive tendencies or is an older dog. The danger is with any breed that wasn’t properly exposed to children under 4 months but even more so with known aggressive breeds. Watch for warning signs, and hiring a professional behaviorist can help greatly reduce/cure aggressive behavior towards people. The number of dogs bites in the U.S., especially towards children, is staggering.

…if the second dog is a puppy and your first dog is too old. A puppy can put an extra boost in an older dogs life, but if your first dog is too old, the new puppy just ends up being too much for the older dog’s frail body. Your older dog can’t defend itself and will have trouble communicating to the puppy to back off! The best time to add a new puppy is when your first dog is between 1 and 5-years old (large breeds) or 1 and 9 years old (small breeds).

…I should say, don’t get 2 dogs at the same time, especially if they’re siblings. Yes they will keep each other company, but it’s also double trouble. If the reason to get 2 at the same time is to keep each other company, that’s the wrong reason to get a dog in the first place. In most cases you will barely have time to raise and train one of them properly, let alone 2. In a dog/owner relationship you want your dog focused on you more than things around them.  Getting 2 puppies at once, they will focus more on each other. It’s best to wait until your first dog is at least a year old and well trained before getting a second dog. A good idea is to adopt and train an older dog, then adopt a much younger puppy. That way they can keep each other company, while saving two lives.

… Based on looks alone. You have to realize what your getting yourself into. Some dogs are gorgeous, but can be a huge burden on you, your family and your home. It’s difficult for me to recommend a breed, because all dogs require time and patience to do it right. I did post the top ten smartest breeds, thats a good place to start looking for a dog. Some breeds aren’t bred to be in certain living conditions and some owners shouldn’t be owning certain breeds. Unless you know exactly what your getting into and can provide whatever is needed, these are the breeds I would avoid owning.

…If you have small children. When raising a child and dog together, one of them isn’t going to get the attention needed.  It’ s best to wait until your child is at least 7 years old before getting a new puppy. A cat would be a better solution, but any animal will take away from the precious time you need for your child. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule but to do it right, you should wait. You will see and meet plenty of animals while you’re out with your child. Remember, I didn’t really have close contact with dogs until I turned 18 and look how well my relationship with animals has been. it’s okay to wait, your child will be happy you did.

…If you work long hours. A lonely bored dog will develop behavioral issues, and that usually leads to trouble! Luckily there are options for people with long working hours, such as dog walkers and doggy day care. However, these exercise outlets don’t replace what you provide with companionship. If you get a new puppy, be prepared to take a few weeks off.  I wouldn’t get any animal if I worked long hours. A dog sitting in the backyard is only learning things that will keep them there.

… Just because you have a backyard! OK, maybe having one makes it nice when you don’t have time to walk them, but it shouldn’t be the main factor in deciding whether or not to get a dog. It’s not how big a home or backyard is, it’s what you do that makes you the perfect dog owner. When left alone, a dog isn’t running laps in the backyard trying to make up his daily requirement of exercise. A lonely or bored dog will just develop bad habits like barking, digging, chewing, fence fighting and escaping etc.  Getting a second dog may not be the answer either: sometimes it can help, but it usually just leads to double trouble. Whether you have a big backyard or a big dog in a small place it doesn’t matter, as long as you spend time with them exercising and educating.

… IF you’re planning on leaving them outside in the backyard to live, or chained up most of the time! Then why get a dog? a dog isn’t an expendable trophy. I always say, just because you get an animal and have it live in a cage/aquarium or live in the backyard or on a chain,This doesn’t make you an animal lover. (actually it’s the complete opposite).


9 Responses to “DON’T GET A DOG…”

  1. Robert on September 29th, 2009 5:32 pm

    Thanks Tami, you being a Veterinarian nurse (Vet Tech) understand the importance of owner education. It’s a never-ending process. All I can do is tell it like it is, and hopefully people will find my site, subscribe or make comments like you,- so the search engines put me closer to the top of the page.

  2. Jenny Ruth Yasi on November 12th, 2009 8:50 am

    I agree that dog bites are a big problem. I had a person inquiring about getting help with her new greyhound, and I could see the dog was nervous with the new owner, but she never confirmed and came to my training studio, but instead, she had a family with a young boy babysit the dog for a weekend. I guess she thought she’d be socializing the dog with kids, as he wasn’t used to kids! So the boy was hanging out on the floor petting the greyhound, but jumped up suddenly to play when a buddy came in the room. The startled greyhound leapt up, grabbed the boy’s soft neck under the chin, hung there and ripped it open, requiring ten stitches. When I saw those stitches I nearly fell over. VERY scary. This was a greyhound! People were assuming they are so sweet and friendly and shy, and the greyhound rescue wasn’t giving a complete picture of how rescued greyhounds need time and space and careful observation. They had given the dog to a first time dog owner, as though this was an easy foolproof pet. That first bite can be hard for people to predict.

  3. Robert on November 14th, 2009 6:06 am

    Hi Ann,

    Just trying to get the word out, thanks again for the comment

  4. Minerva on June 19th, 2011 9:49 pm

    So basically don’t get a dog period? Your arguments are based on a lot of unresearched generalisations. We got our first dog when I was 6 months pregnant. He was adopted from an animal welfare centre. He has now been part of our lives for 13 years and we have 4 children. He has been a much loved member of the family and never given us any trouble.

    If you are concerned about increasing cases of dog bites, where’s the section on educating children about how best to approach a strange dog in order to avoid getting bitten?

    Your article is poorly written with lots of grammatical mistakes and I don’t suggest anyone takes this seriously.

  5. Robert on June 20th, 2011 9:59 am

    You would be correct, assuming I claimed to be a writer, but I never have. I’m an animal behaviorist / dog trainer; 30 years in the business. Maybe if, you were not so worried about the “grammatical mistakes” I made, you would have seen, I was merely giving my professional opinion; hoping people will “think twice” when the welfare of children and dogs are involved. It is probably obvious to most that my words were not directed towards anyone, or any situation people will experience. I do say: not all these dogs will bite kids, but lots of kids do get bitten. Here is the Wikipedia explanation: It is estimated that two percent of the US population, 4.7 million people, are bitten each year. In the 1980s and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities per year, while in the 2000s this has increased to 26. 77% of dog bites are from the pet of family or friends, and 50% of attacks occur on the dog owner’s property.
    Here is a report from Australia: 100,000 dog bites per year. Young children have the highest incidence of dog bite injuries requiring treatment. Around 60% of all serious bites occur in children under ten years of age, and many of their bites are to the head, face and neck. In contrast, adults are most likely to be bitten on the lower limbs and hands. Media coverage of dog attacks tends to focus on incidents that occur in public places, yet the majority of dog attacks occur in the home environment, or in the home or backyard of a friend, neighbor or family member.

    Minerva, these are just the reported cases, I’m sure many of the reported and unreported cases are children. Actually, in one report I read almost 23% of all dog bites are children between the age of 0-4 yrs old. (Is that good research for you?). I don’t write these blogs to show off my writing skills; I only want to share my professional knowledge. AND as it turns out, I know what I’m talking about.

  6. Minerva on June 26th, 2011 11:50 pm

    How many of those dog bites involved children being bitten by the family dog as opposed to several high profile cases recently where children have been bitten by off-the-leash dogs at parks, playgrounds and even a shopping mall?

  7. Robert on June 27th, 2011 2:44 am

    I answered that in my response to you. And BTW – What does it matter anyway? if one child gets seriously bitten, isn’t that enough to let other people know how to avoid this happening to their own child ??? Here are the facts again, (not assumptions); (Reported) 2% of U.S. population are bitten by dogs, around 60% of reported cases are children under 10 yrs. From the family or friend of the families dog. My guess is unreported cases are 5 – 10 times that amount.

  8. martha Williamd on June 13th, 2012 1:49 pm

    I am director for my own nonprofit pet rescue and the problem of children and dogs is one that over shadows my ability to adopt into a suitable home without angering the parents of a precocious child. Twice within last 30 days I’ve had to take a stand for the dog and just refuse to adopt to some people. I have had some experience with Down’s Syndrome kids and I had refused to adopt to a large son of one person who had called about a ‘small puppy for her son’ and I said I did not adopt small dogs which cannot escape to people with Down’s Syndrome and you can go on some of the crawlers on my website and read the hateful comments I got. I had an experience with Down’s Syndrome kids in my extended family and they kept getting kittens and the kittens kept dying. This particular woman wrote passionately about how ignorant I was but she declined taking a large breed dog that could better fend for itself. No one can go home with that dog which, if small especially, lives a life of terror afraid to come out from under the bed. Two incidences this month one a three year old rowdy boy and parents were looking at a dog, a large breed puppy. At first the puppy wanted to play with the boy and the boy became more agitated and active and the puppy looked puzzled when a foot shot out and kicked the dog in the stomach. It seemed unintentional but the puppy retreated under a chair and cowered unwilling to come back out and I had to say “sorry it isn’t going to work” And I had a kennel worker put the dog up and returned to my computer ignoring the parents who left. Yesterday about 7 people came in and they had two small dogs with them seeking another dog. A child, a girl, was loud and out of control. I had not been with them through the kennel tour but now she had a small dog on a leash and she began yanking her about and stomping her feet as the dog frantically tried to get away and mom and dad said nothing. I called for the kennel worker to put the dog away and said ‘sorry that’s all we have’ and returned to working and puzzled and without a clue said ‘”that dog is hyper” The dog had been fostered by us at home and was not hyper it was trying to get away from the child. Until the day parents see their kids for how they really are animals cannot speak for themselves. While it may be possible some breeders and pet stores sell dogs and qualify the buyer my experience has been if they have the money they’ve got the right to purchase a dog. It is sad. We are constantly offered Chihuahuas and other tiny dogs, with broken bones because a child has dropped the dog or left it on a table to fall. I do know there are kids out there who are great with dogs and pets but don’t expect mom and dad to care whether the dog you protected enough to save lives a short miserable life with a child that is not kept in tow. Martha Williams Pet Guardian Angel Welfare Inc

  9. Robert on July 31st, 2012 6:54 am

    Hi Martha,

    Thanks for the incite, I’m seeing another reason “not to get a dog” THANKS!