The Realities of Being a Dog Parent

Being a dog parent is great, but it is also a lot of hard work. The decision to bring a dog into your home should not be made on impulse. Dogs are thinking, feeling and loving individuals, all with their own personality. They don’t have on/off, stop/go buttons. Training takes a lot of time and patience. They have their own thoughts and make their own decisions. We just have to help them know which ones we would like from them and that there is reward for doing so!

The realities of being a dog parent:

  • Early mornings
  • Walking in all weather
  • Coming home on your lunch break or paying a dog sitter/walker
  • Coming home straight after work
  • Finding someone to look after them when you go away and most likely having to pay for this service
  • Extra cleaning, mainly vacuuming depending on the breed of dog
  • Standing outside in all weather before bed time to make sure they go to the toilet
  • Paying for: yearly vaccinations, monthly flea and worm treatment, insurance, food, supplements, medical treatment and operations
  • Having your freedom restricted
  • Taking the time to train, play and exercise
  • A 10-15 year commitment

Dogs bark to communicate. Of course some breeds are more vocal than others as they were specifically bred for their ability to bark, but all dogs bark at some point. Some breeds shed their coat all over your sofa, carpet, clothes and car. Puppies and dogs who have not been taught different, go to the toilet inside or chew your favourite pair of shoes. Redirection and positive reinforcement can help stop this but it is not always something they will learn over night.

A dog is not a bit of fun for a few years until you get bored. The reality of owning a dog is time consuming, expensive and hard work. A dog is a luxury, not a right. They can suffer from grief and depression and being passed from one home to another impacts this. They form bonds with their caretakers and become confused when removed from them and placed into a new home or kennel. They have no choice in where they go, who cares for them and are completely reliant on humans to care for them.

For me, nothing compares to spending time with my dogs and I am dedicated to them. However, that doesn’t stop me from sometimes wishing I had more free time and less restrictions. In my opinion the benefits of owning dogs outweighs the negatives. However, and understandably, for some the negatives outweigh the positives and this should be considered before brining a dog into your home.

Owning a dog means making personal sacrifices and unfortunately, the welfare of many dogs is compromised because caretakers are unwilling or cannot do so. The decisions we make directly impacts them. So before buying a puppy or dog, please consider if you are willing to do all this, for the next 10-15 years?

A dog is for life.

Dog Theft

Every time I go on the internet, I am greeted with posts of stolen dogs. As well as being deeply distressing for their owners, it’s sure to have an impact on the dogs welfare too. It is simply awful and worrying for the rest of us dog owners. I often see posts of how to reduce your chances of being victim to this. But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

Dogs are being stolen because people can make money from them. Over lockdown we saw the prices for puppies soar and suddenly this seemed like a quick and easy way to make money. Stolen dogs make money. But if more people knew what to look for, what to expect and what to ask of someone selling a dog and the laws involved, the success of selling stolen dogs would surely reduce.

So let’s look at the law:

As of May 2019, Lucy’s Law came into place. Unless you are the breeder, it is illegal to sell a dog on who is under 6 months old. If a puppy has been bought from a breeder and the owner no longer wants them, then the puppy must either be returned to the breeder or taken to a rehoming centre.

As of April 2016 it became law that all dogs must be microchipped before leaving the breeder. Microchips help find the owner if the dog is found alone. If someone is trying to sell an un microchipped dog then they are breaking the law.

Tail docking has been banned in the UK unless the breeder is intending to sell the dog as a working dog. Docking should be performed by a vet who would sign a docking certificate. An honest breeder would provide documentation of the docking certificates.

In addition to the law, there are things potential buyers should look out for.

You should always be able to meet at least one of the parents, mainly the mum. Puppies 8 weeks old and under should be with their mum to feed from and for security whilst they make sense of the world around them. If the person selling the puppies is withholding information or not allowing you to see the rest of the litter, this should raise alarm bells.

A good breeder would want to know what kind of home their puppy is going to. You would expect them to ask questions about yourself and your home.

Many breeders will have taken the puppies to the vets for a full health check and 1st puppy vaccination before selling them on.

Observe the environment that the puppies are living in. Is it warm? Do they have plenty of safe toys? Is it safe and away from young children and loud noises? What happens to a dog as a puppy can have a huge influence on how the rest of their lives. Many breeders even play sounds of traffic, other animals and general day to day noises to help the puppies get used to these sounds.

If the breeder does not have appropriate documentation, has not followed the laws mentioned above, does not ask you questions or withholds information, then either they are not a responsible breeder, or there is something more cynical going on.

Buying from breeders who care for their dogs welfare and have an understanding of dog behaviour, training and development is a great way to promote and support responsible breeding. I hope that by doing so we will see a decrease in the numbers of dogs and puppies being stolen. If people know what to look out for and do not buy from anyone but a responsible breeder, then I hope that there will no longer be a market for stolen dogs. As owners and dog lovers, it is up to us to also be responsible when bringing a new dog into our homes. They are not there to just please us. They are thinking, feeling, emotional beings, each with their own unique personality, who deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.


I have always had a strong interest in animal behaviour and welfare. However, it was after rescuing Freddie that I decide to become a behaviourist. He is my inspiration and the reason I continue to be so passionate about dogs.

Before Freddie, I thought I knew a lot about dogs and how to train them. Freddie showed me I was wrong and forced me to relearn everything I thought I knew.

He had a bad start to life and at the age of 5 months was almost euthanised and labelled aggressive before being handed into the sanctuary where I worked. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew he was the dog for me. He appeared to be an excitable, happy puppy, but it soon became apparent what was meant by his aggression. It became clear he had been scared in the past and his only form of defence had been attack. He would run away in fear from the broom and growl at anyone who walked past him when he was lying on his bed. Building trust and making him feel safe were the first steps to reducing this. After lots of positive reinforcement he began to feel safe around familiar people and his fear of certain objects was reduced.

In the past two years I have watched Freddie transform but there is still some way to go as there is no quick fix. It takes time, love patience and work. Throughout the years there has been tears but there has been a lot laughter too. And in between that, there are those magical moments when he shows me just how much better he is. And when I watch him, curled up asleep, safe, sound and content. I know that it is all worth it.