It was probably just over two years ago when my wife and I decided that our next house should have at least one pooch living in it. We were looking forward to bringing home our newest family member, but as we went through all the steps of getting him (or her) into the country, we started to realize that this little guy would not make an ideal household pet. He got along fine with us while he was still a puppy, but as soon as he grew up, his attitude began to change.
First off, he had no idea how much work goes into caring for a large animal like a dog. Then, once we brought him home, he never seemed to want to do anything especially play! And finally, he didn't seem to understand what we wanted from him. It soon became apparent that we needed professional help and fast. Luckily, we found a great trainer who helped us turn things around. Now we have a well-behaved, obedient pup that loves playing fetch and other games.
While every dog owner has their own set of unique challenges, these are some common ones that many of us face during our time with pets. Read on for tips on overcoming them.
Dogs Aren't People – They Don't Care If We're Happy or Sad
One of the toughest aspects of dog ownership for me is knowing when to be positive and upbeat, and when to let down my guard and admit that I'm struggling. Dogs can sense our emotions better than anyone else, so they'll often pick up on our moods even before we know it ourselves. If we're having a bad day, chances are our furry friend will feel it too. The trick is to be aware of how we're feeling without letting it affect our interactions with our dogs.
As much as I love my pup, she isn't always easy to live with. For example, she doesn't come when called and sometimes ignores me when I ask her to stay. When those times happen, I remind myself that most humans couldn't handle life without a daily routine. In fact, studies show that routine helps maintain good mental health, which is essential for a healthy lifestyle.
While I prefer to take walks early in the morning, I know that eventually, my pup's bedtime will have to occur sometime between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., otherwise, she'll start barking and pacing until then. A scheduled bedtime gives both of us order, which makes life easier.
In addition to routines, pets require rules. Without guidelines, it's easy for owners to lose control of situations that end up causing unnecessary stress. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online and offline that offer advice on making sure your pet stays under control.
Pets need more than love — They also need structure
I've been told that the hardest part of owning a dog is dealing with its constant shedding. No matter how hard I try, I can't stop my pup from brushing off her fur constantly. It's almost like she thinks she's allergic to herself. Either way, keeping track of all the hair is annoying, and the only solution I've found is to keep a shoebox full of old newspapers nearby. That way whenever she sheds, I can just toss the paper onto the pile instead of trying to catch each strand individually.
Another challenge that comes with being a pet owner is that you have to spend money. Not only do you have to buy food and treats, but you also have vet bills to worry about. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to save money on your pet's needs. You may already know that you can find free veterinarian services at local shelters, clinics, and hospitals.
You can also enroll your pet in low-cost spay/neuter programs offered by humane societies and rescue groups. There are also senior citizen discounts available on certain procedures, such as checkups and vaccinations. Finally, you can shop around for lower prices on medications. Many insurance companies offer discounted prescription coverage for pets as well.
No matter how responsible I am, I'm going to forget at some point and leave my pooch outside unattended. This usually happens when I go grocery shopping or run errands. So to prevent accidents, I carry my pup inside with me wherever possible. She won't mind a quick walk around the block, but she definitely doesn't enjoy spending hours stuck in a car.
Even though leaving her behind might cause trouble later, the alternative is worse. I've seen enough horror stories about pets left outdoors to know that it can lead to serious injury or death. To avoid that, I always bring Fido with me whenever I venture out alone.
Getting Older Means Having to Deal With Health Issues
My biggest concern when I bought my last dog was that she'd develop hip problems. After giving birth to her litter of puppies, she suddenly lost interest in walking and moving around normally. Eventually, she developed arthritis in both hips and stopped using her front legs altogether. As a result, she spent most of her days lying around in pain.
To ensure similar problems don't arise again, I researched different treatment methods for arthritic dogs. One method involves inserting metal pins underneath the joints to support them. Another technique uses special collars that surround the entire neck to provide extra strength. With either option, vets recommend consulting a specialist before beginning any kind of treatment.
Once I knew exactly what was wrong with my dog, I hired a physical therapist to help improve her mobility. Since she wasn't able to use her back legs, I made sure to train her to walk on a leash using a harness. That exercise proved helpful since now she can move freely around the yard and neighborhood.
Because of my experience with hip problems, I'm always mindful of my dog's weight when I decide where we should go. If you haven't experienced this issue yet, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to consult your vet about your pet's overall health. The most difficult part of dog ownership could vary from person to person.
Some people might think that the toughest part of dog ownership is actually taking care of the animals themselves. However, for others, it could be deciding whether to adopt or foster dogs that need homes. Every year millions of homeless pets wind up in shelters across America. Of course, finding loving homes for these creatures is important because they deserve the same quality of life that human beings receive.
Yet, it's difficult to choose which particular animal to give a second chance to. Some animals are harder to place than others, and it can be emotionally taxing to decide which dogs to rescue and which ones to put to sleep.
If you're not ready to commit to adopting a specific canine, consider fostering one temporarily. Foster parents can take care of dogs that need temporary housing until they find permanent families. Plus, helping out shelter animals offers a rewarding opportunity to interact with them and see firsthand how they respond to people's kindnesses.
Whether you decide to adopt or foster a dog, remember that choosing the right breed is crucial. Your choice of pooch says a lot about you and reflects your personality. Just as it's important to match a person with the right type of mate, it's equally important to select the right type of dog.
Although it may sound funny, you really need to take your new pet out for test drives. Take it for walks, feed it, bathe it, and talk to it calmly. By doing so, you'll learn more about your pet and build stronger bonds with it.
At the end of the day, however, the most challenging aspect of dog ownership for everyone is simply patience. Most animals tend to become attached to their owners quickly and refuse to adjust to changes. So the key is to remain calm and consistent, regardless of how long it takes.