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Dog ownership and human well being

We’ve all read the studies about how good dog ownership is for us. Just google Health benefits of owning dogs and a whole raft of articles pops up.


Here are my thoughts on situations where dog ownership iprobably good for your wellbeing.


*When you truly love your dog and enjoy giving them a good life.

*When the people you live with or who see the dog regularly are on the same page as you, and care for your dog in a similar way.

*When you have a well matched dog for your skills and activity levels.

*When you realise you don’t have a good match, so you go about improving your skills and activity levels to become a better match.

*When the dog is social or very tolerant.

*When the dog is healthy.

*When you can afford to pay for the dog’s needs.

*When on balance, dog ownership adds more value than distress to your life.

 

Some situations where dog ownership might not be good for your wellbeing.


*When you don’t love/ like your dog.

*When the people you live with or who see the dog regularly are NOT on the same page as you, and don't care for your dog in a similar way.

*When you have a poorly matched dog for your skills and activity levels.

*When you have a poorly matched dog for your skills and activity levels and want to do something about it, but don’t know what to do, or can't do it.

*When your dog is old/ sick/ needing a lot of care/ time/ money.

*When the dog’s behaviour is worrying, even dangerous for you or others.

*When you can’t afford to pay for the dog’s needs.

*When you are already incredibly busy, exhausted, ill or overwhelmed and the dog is just another responsibility to add to the pile.

*When on balance, dog ownership adds more distress than value to your life.

 

I haven’t even touched on the dog’s perspective here. This one is just about you and yes, I know, it depends…but having taken some serious hits to my own emotional well being in the past due to some of these, I hope that perhaps I can help someone else.


Having had some dogs with issues, I have upskilled myself and developed a lot of empathy for people doing their best in similar situations. My experiences have been very valuable; but I wouldn’t choose to repeat them. Personally, I want emotionally and physically healthy dogs. They suit my wellbeing, my lifestyle and my bank account.


This means I do my best to choose the raw material of a dog that will suit me. If buying from a breeder, I want great genetics for temperament and health, and thoughtful rearing practices. If rescuing/ rehoming, with no idea of background, I still choose as carefully as I can. I then do my bit to try to realise the dog's full potential.


If things start to go wrong – I do something about the molehill. I don’t wait for it to grow into a mountain. I have other dogs. Any newcomer MUST fit in well. I am willing to invest time and take precautions to make this happen, but they must eventually co-exist peacefully. Otherwise I am willing to rehome the newest arrival. Fortunately, we've always found equilibrium and I've never had to do this.


If you have a dog showing signs of emotional/ physical unwellness/ problematic behaviour inside or outside your home – please act EARLY. Get ahead of it. The longer you wait, the bigger the issue might become. Big and/ or long standing issues are much harder, even impossible, to fix.


Dog ownership should be mutually beneficial for you and all of your dogs.


Your decisions and choices can make that happen.



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