Living with a dog

The chances are that living with a dog and what your life would be like if you had one is something that you've already thought a lot about. But apart from the romanticised version of walking your dog in the park and your dog lying by your feet when you sit down for the evening, there are practical things to be considered.

Balancing Commitments

Getting a dog is like getting a new member of the family. The dog will have needs such as walks, play, affection and training. In all likelihood, owning a dog is not the only commitment that you have, so you need to work the dog's schedule around that of your own. Include family commitments, work, and time for yourself and see if you really do have the space to factor in a canine companion.

It is imperative that you train your dog to ensure that you and those who live with you have a peaceful time with the dog. Some people like to teach their dog all manner of things, others feel that it takes away from their dog characteristics. Whatever camp you fall into, every dog should have a few basic commands such as sit, down, stop, bed and stop talking. A badly behaved dog is difficult to lived with, and if a dog doesn't understand what it is being asked to do it can be very stressful. Dogs work best with clear guidelines of what they are expected to do.

Knowing Your Dog

In order to live in harmony with your dog, it is important to learn the rudiments of dog behaviour. There are plenty of books and free online resources that can teach the basics. It is vital that everyone in the household is able to tell when the dog is happy, afraid, nervous and angry.

Make sure your dog has safe toys to play with to stop him getting bored. A bored dog can damage your house out of nothing else to do. It's also important that a dog's bed is far away from the front door. If bed is near the door, dog has to make snap decisions. If the bed is further away, dog can watch you interact with any new person who arrives, minimising the chances of any unwanted aggression.