By Nomi Berger
Truer words were never spoken, because being an informed owner truly means being that dog’s true, best friend.
An alarming number of dogs are abandoned, surrendered, and euthanized each year in this country. The reasons are many, but one of the greatest contributing factors is the failure of too many potential owners to educate themselves fully BEFORE acquiring a dog.
The educated ones would know to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the breed they’re considering, including the breed’s physical description and personality, trainability and exercise requirements, health issues, and general care and grooming.
They would know there’s no such thing as TOO much information. The more informed they are, the more informed their decision.
They would know to choose a breed that fits in with their particular lifestyle, needs and expectations. Examples. No high shedding dogs in a home of allergy sufferers. No hyperactive or high energy dogs in a small apartment. No dogs who can’t get along with cats or any other family pets. No dogs in need of constant companionship if there is no one at home during the day.
They would know that, whatever the breed, raising a dog from puppy hood is, like raising a child, not a hobby or a sometime thing but a full time, fully committed responsibility.
They would know that puppies must be housetrained promptly and socialized early in order for them to develop into well-behaved and friendly dogs with good bite inhibition.
They would know to always be consistent, that discipline does NOT mean punishment, and that love, in and of itself, does NOT conquer all.
They would also know that certified trainers and supervised puppy classes can be of crucial help to them in raising calm and balanced dogs if they’re unable to manage on their own.
On the flip side are the uninformed and uneducated owners. The ones who, ruled by their hearts and not their heads, choose poorly from the start. The ones who, sadly and all too frequently, raise untrained, ill-mannered and often dangerous dogs.
These are the dogs who, over time, will prove too much for their ill-equipped and increasingly frustrated owners. These are the dogs who will eventually be abandoned in empty lots or left by the side of the road. These are the dogs who will be deposited outside a local pound or shelter or, if they’re lucky, surrendered to a rescue organization.
These are the dogs who will be adopted – and probably returned – by unsuspecting people intent on doing the right thing by not buying from a pet store or an unscrupulous breeder. These are the dogs who, more than likely, will be euthanized due to overcrowded facilities or because of their own people-biting or dog-aggressive behaviors.
These are the unfortunate innocents who will pay with their lives for their owners’ unfortunate ignorance. Thereby perpetuating an all-too-familiar and vicious cycle. And the only way to break this cycle is to turn every potential dog owner into an informed and educated dog owner.
Remember that the dog YOU ultimately choose is counting on you.