In recent years, having a dog became a “trend” in Lebanon, along with a wave of pet shops opening on every other corner like phone shops did before. While it is good news, that the Lebanese society became more pet friendly, this new love of furry companions does not seem to be sustainable: Way too often owners dump their pets. A rising number of stray dogs and cats, overcrowded shelters and various rescue groups on Facebook bare witness to that.
While it is hard to understand, how someone could do such thing, we know that having a dog can be more work than it may seem at first.
Therefore we compiled a list of 7 questions, one should ask him/herself before getting a dog:
1.Does it fit my lifestyle?
Somewhat like having a child, getting a dog means you take on the responsibility of a living being whose needs often come before your own desires. That means that you may have to sacrifice more time for your pet than you might be used to – or want to. This first question is the one, you should think about the most. If you have a busy working life or if you travel frequently, a dog might not be the best idea, except you have a supportive family or partner that is 100% behind the idea and won’t back out or lose interest. If you have enough money, you might as well consider to pay for a walker, a doggy daycare and a dog hotel during your trips. While many adult dogs can cope with being alone for up to 8 hours, some can not. This is not always foreseeable and you might end up with your neighbours/landlord complaining about your dog barking and crying or your house being torn into pieces during your absence. Much worse, you can end up with a miserable dog. Just like people, dogs vary in their needs.
A dog should have at least 45 minutes of exercise a day, while young, and especially high energy dogs like Huskies, German Shepherds, Labradors and others may need way more to be tired. This is important to mention because a dog with too much energy is likely to destroy things. Due to a lack of parks and green spaces, Beirut can be a tough city to exercise your dog. Are you willing to take on this challenge? Can you imagine to get up earlier every day and to go for a walk right after you return from work tired?
Walks are important to exercise your dog but even more than that to socialize your dog with other dogs and as many different people as possible. A lack of socialization can manifest itself in aggression later on. Are you ready to make some new dog-owner friends? Also training is important. You can look at free resources online or get help from a trainer – in any case it will and should take some time.
2. What about a puppy?
Puppies are adorable, but they are also a much bigger piece of work. They can’t be left alone long: A rule of thumb says, that until they are 8 months old, for every month in age they can stay one hour alone. In order to have your puppy housebroken, to stop them from chewing everything you own and to socialize them well with people and dogs you need A LOT OF TIME. To play, to train, for countless walks and sleepless nights…. You get the idea.
3. Can I afford a dog?
While you have the choice to adopt a dog or to spend a fortune on a pure breed dog with a pedigree tracing back his ancestors to the 17th century, the cost of a dog accumulates over his entire lifetime.
Depending on your dog’s size/weight and the quality of the food and treats you buy you could be spending something between 20 and 120 dollar a month. Just like you would become sick and fat eating Burgers and Fries every day, your dog’s health can deteriorate when he is exposed to shitty food over years and you might be spending the amount you saved on the vet. While we hope that vet visits, despite the usual vaccinations, spaying/neutering and checkups, will never be necessary during your pup’s life, you have to ask yourself if you could afford your dog being seriously sick or needing expensive surgeries.
While you can train your dog yourself with a number of great online resources, there might be a point, where you have trouble with some specific things and want to seek advice from a professional trainer. Good trainers cost money. You are supposed to learn how to train your dog. Make sure to attend the training together with your dog to gain that knowledge and in order to make sure he is not choked, beaten or electrocuted in order to correct his behaviour. This, unsurprisingly, might turn your dog into an aggressive disturbed psychopath.
4. What kind of dog is the right one for me?
While we understand that people have preferences in looks or breeds, we would like to encourage everyone to keep an open mind. Choosing a pet based on how popular or cute it is, is probably one of the worst decisions people make. Too often these pets are dumped at an animal shelter when they show themselves to be too high energy, too needy, too protective, not child friendly … the list is endless.
Inform yourself about the breed you are interested in, their needs and their possible issues. If you are open to adopt a shelter/foster dog, you have the advantage to ask their caretaker for information about their character and you can meet up to check out the chemistry. When it comes to the dog’s age, it really depends on how active your lifestyle is. If you are on the busy side or just enjoy your time on the couch or in the coffee shop, an older, calmer dog might just be the right match for you.
5. Is my home pet-friendly?
This might seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many dogs end up on the street due to issues connected to their living situation. Everyone in your house should agree to adding a new fluffy member to the family.You also need to be mindful of allergies – are you allergic? Is anyone that’s going to be around the dog allergic? Of course also inform your landlord, in case you are renting an apartment/house. In the best case also your neighbours: You don’t want them to call the police or have them throw poison because your pups crying is giving them a hard time. If you have a garden, you might want to make sure it’s fenced and if you have particularly fancy furniture you might consider locking a specific room or covering them with something.
6. Can I deal with ALL the fur?
Depending on the kind of dog you get, grooming might be something you want to look into with furry breeds. Nails need to be clipped, fur needs to be brushed, and they need to be bathed. Professional dog grooming runs from $50-$80 and you’ll need to do it every couple of months. Regarding fur, I have bad news: It will be everywhere. It will be on your floor, your clothes, on your furniture and occasionally in your food. The fur rollers are somewhat useful, but you’ll never achieve pre-dog levels again. Sometimes I find my dog’s fur at friend’s houses that my dog has never visited.
7. What do I have to think about if I have children or am planning to have children in the future?
It can be very hard to find time for your dog, when you are taking care of a baby. Think about this beforehand and maybe decide to wait with getting a dog until you are sure you can handle it.
It is challenging to train a dog if you have young children around as they usually can’t understand how to behave with the dog. If they pull the dog’s tail or ride on him, he might get uncomfortable and scared resulting in a growl or even a bite. Many dogs end in shelters because of these misconceptions that arise from cute youtube videos of babies and dogs, that make people think children and dogs inherently and effortlessly get along.
Adding a dog to your home is a decision you should thoroughly think through. But If you can find satisfying answers to all these questions we ask above, we say: Go for it! Having dogs is great and we can’t imagine life without them even sometimes it can be nerve wrecking.
Finally, from our experience as dog owners as well as the experience our customers and friends shared with us: mutts from the shelter tend to be smarter, happier, longer-lived, and overall healthier than purebred dogs. Mutts benefit from greater genetic diversity and thus less chance of genetic issues that can plague many popular (and inbred) purebred breeds (sadly we find a lot of these in Lebanon). We don’t mean to say that purebred dogs are bad; quite the opposite, although many ethical questions surround the horrific conditions in puppy mills, the living conditions in pet stores, etc. and you have to ask yourself: Do I want to support this? If you have your heart set on a specific breed, check the shelters and Facebook groups nevertheless( Beta, Animals Lebanon): They have many pure breeds as well.
We just mean to say, that for an everyday pet-type dog, that isn’t working at a specific job for which it was designed, you cannot go wrong with a good, healthy lovey-dovey mutt from the shelter.