A dog is for life, not just for lockdown.
by Cat Matloub, Esq. - Head of Partnerships, Community & Legal Affairs at Good Dog
With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, there's been a boom in new puppy buyers, but there is growing concern that there could be an uptick in relinquishment once stay-at-home orders lift and life resumes to some sense of normalcy. Even though you have more time at home now, getting a dog is a lifelong commitment, and you have to be confident that you can make that promise to your dog past this period.
Getting a dog now might seem like a great idea — and it is if you can make that lifelong commitment to your new pet. More time at home means the freedom to invest in training, socialization, and bonding with a puppy in those first few critical weeks of adjustment. Wanting a companion isn’t enough of an indicator to determine if you’re ready to care for a dog. Before making the jump, you need to consider whether or not you’ll be able to commit to continuing practices like socialization, exercise, grooming, providing proper vet care, and training once lockdown ends.
As great as it sounds to have a companion while stuck at home, it's most important to be brutally honest about your ability to commit to a new dog beyond the current circumstances. Getting a dog without considering life beyond lockdown will almost certainly result in abandonment or relinquishment down the line.
If you decide that you’re able to commit to a new pet, there might be an impulse to rush the process. The first step to being a responsible dog owner is understanding what breed or type of dog is the right match for your lifestyle — this means considering things like activity level, maintenance, temperament, health, and size.
It's key to research the right breed or type of dog for you, so you have the best chance at caring for your dog for life.
Once you know you’re ready for a dog, you might feel a sense of urgency to find your new puppy and get them home as soon as possible. Though over-eagerness and excitement often lead to impulse buying, which can quickly result in disaster. You shouldn’t feel pressure to choose your new companion based on availability instead of compatibility. If you can make a lifelong commitment to your dog, it’s OK to spend a little extra time during the puppy buying process to make sure you find the perfect match.
When you choose a dog because of convenience, it often results in a mismatch, a genetically unhealthy dog, or a behaviorally unsound dog. This kind of impulsiveness is what fuels the cycle of abandonment when dog owners realize they are no longer capable of caring for pets who were never a good match for their lifestyle.
As more people shift to the internet to find their dogs, puppy scammers are thriving. Online, it's much easier for frauds and scammers to sell nonexistent dogs to unknowing and well-intentioned puppy buyers.
Avoid scams by researching sources at great length. Ask a lot of questions, talk with other puppy buyers, pay with a credit card, and exclusively use secure payment systems. If a source asks for money through Western Union or Moneygram, they are most likely a scam, especially if charges start to increase after the initial deposit. Research typical prices in the area for your breed and talk to other dog breeders for advice or references, even if they don't have puppies available. If something seems like it’s “too good to be true,” it probably is.
Being a true dog lover means doing what’s in the best interest of the dog. No matter how badly you want a dog, or how much you love dogs, it’s irresponsible to get a puppy if you aren’t confident in your ability to care for it long term.
Responsible dog ownership means each person has the freedom to choose what’s best for their lifestyle — whether that’s a dog from a breeder or a dog from the shelter system. While animal rights activists push hard to shift the blame onto breeders, the truth is that the only people responsible for dog abandonment are irresponsible owners, and the first step towards being a good dog owner is making a lifelong commitment.
It's more important now than ever before to make sure potential owners make good choices, so there isn't a surge in relinquishment months down the line. Consider the risks around impulse puppy buying before taking the jump. Now is a great time for capable dog owners to welcome a new pet into their home, only if they're able to commit to that dog once life resumes to some sense of normalcy.