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Why You Do Not Want a Dog

Do Not Read This If . . .

Do not read this Hub if

  • You know me well. You have already heard me say this.
  • You are a dog lover, and you do not want to explore changing your mind.

Do Read This If . . .

Do read this if

  • You are considering getting a dog. There are many negative factors to consider.
  • You know the negative factors of dog ownership. This will be singing to the choir, but it will be music to your ears.

A Personal Note

When I was growing up, my family always had pets: canaries, parakeets, cats, and dogs along other animals such as chickens, pigeons, rabbits and ducks. In fact, I was taught a little disdain for those who chose not to have dogs. Our dogs, however, suffered. We lived on a busy street, and the yard was not usually secured. The dogs roamed the neighborhood, and, of course, many were hit by cars. This was met with much emotional pain and pleas to take the dog to the veterinary if it wasn't dead at the scene. Well, our family did not spend money on veterinarians. The dead dogs were buried in the backyard, and those who survived were set in the garage on a pile of rags, and we brought them food. Some survived with their scars of of out-of-whack gaits, and some had repeated injuries in their efforts to cross Niles Street. We were not the best pet owners.

Still, though we were not model pet owners, the message was that there must be something wrong with someone who did not want to have a dog. So, when I reached a stage in life when I had a wife, a child, and a house, I thought it was also time to get the dog. Stella was a miniature dachsund, really a beautiful dog. She was, however, not easily house broken, and this was after we had new wall-to-wall carpet installed. She also liked to get out and run away. She did not come when called. One night she had again escaped, and I was trying to catch her. It was dark and she had run to a neighbor's house and was barking under their bedroom window. That was a moment when I began to seriously doubt the wisdom of our owning a dog.

When Stella went into heat, we did do a good job of keeping her in our yard. We did not do a good job of keeping other dogs out of our yard, and she began to look pregnant. My wife and I agreed to get rid of her, so I put an ad in the paper and sold her, a purebred, for $25.00.

Later, we tried dog ownership again, and while my wife truly loved the second dog, I did not. It was expensive, barked every time the doorbell rang, was difficult, again, to housebreak, bit people, smelled bad and frequently passed gas. Clancy's fatal flaw, though, was his desire to get out of the yard (later I learned from a vertinarian's assistant that the term for this trait is "uncontainable"). That coupled with his habit of chasing cars brought about his death a few years ago. I remember thinking at the time that getting him had absolutely confiirmed that I was not one to own a dog.

Not All Dogs Are Pretty


The Reasons

  1. It is unlikely that you have the time that being a conscientous dog owner requires. Most dogs require a lot of human interaction, daily walking/exercise, training, and veterinarian care. Do you work forty hours a week? Do you anticipate leaving the dog home alone? Do you have familial obligations that leave little extra time for the pet? This would be a poor situation in which to put a dog; it would be unfair to the dog. (I now realize that part of my trying to convince you not to get a dog is because I do like dogs and hate to see them in less than good situations).
  2. You are not Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer (a great show on the cable National Geographic channel.) Do you know of any
  • dogs that have bitten people and drawn blood,
  • dogs that do not always come when their name is called,
  • dogs that have been difficult to house train,
  • dogs that bark when the doorbell is rung, but do nothing if someone simply walks through the door,
  • dogs that have chewed shoes, furniture and rugs,
  • dogs whose owners are often speaking to their dogs in raised, angry and frustrated voices,
  • dogs that are so anxious to get out of the house (or into the house) that every time someone opens an exterior door, there is a battle to keep the dog from going through the door,
  • dogs that hate other dogs, men, women, children, cats,
  • dogs that have not been allowed to return to a kennel,
  • dogs that really need a large space confined to a small interior space,
  • dogs that infect the house with fleas,
  • dogs that chase cars,

Well, this list could go on. The point is that dog ownership brings a lot of trouble.

3. Owning a dog is expensive. Many websites address this issue. Click here for a reputable, pro-dog website about the cost of dog ownership (from $4000.00 to about $40,000.00 in the Midwest for the life of the dog).

4. The dog will limit you to being home to attend to the dog's needs. You will have to come home to let the dog out, feed the dog, and walk the dog. If you are going on a trip, you will have to board the dog. Taking the dog with you will limit where you can get lodging or force you to impose your dog on your hosts, who do not like your dog as you do.

5. Many dog owners regret their decision to get a dog but keep the dog fearing disapproval for getting rid of their pet. Check out in your area for free dogs. If you want something more extreme -- heartbreaking even -- go to your local dog pound to see the dogs owners have taken there.

6. Who do you know that appears to be an excellent dog owner? I personally do not know one person in this category. Well, who do you know who is a good dog owner? What is the chance that you will be an even adequate pet owner?

7. Dogs can spread diseases such as ringworm, intestinal and other types of worms.

8. Dogs cannot behave like members of the family, so they should not be treated like members of the family.

9. Dogs will shed and cause an odor in your home. Some dogs shed more than others, and dog hair will be everywhere, from the floor, where left unabated it will collect into big fluff balls, like dust bunnies, to clogging dryer vents and refrigerator coils.

10. The dog's toenails will scratch hard surface floors.

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11. Although it is easy to find information on how dog ownership causes owners to exercise more (because they take the dog for a walk) and that petting dogs lowers blood pressure, I wonder about the statistics on how many accidents are caused by tripping over dogs, how many people are bitten by dogs, how many automobile accidents are caused by dogs on the street.

Another Helpful Article

Final Thoughts

I've written this at personal risk. I like to be liked, and not many people like those who focus on what they don't like. (I've always said that people are much better at remembering what you like rather than what you don't like). This is, however, so important, and so few people are unwilling to actually say it. Do I find a puppy cute? Absolutely yes. Can I pet a dog that belongs to someone else -- and even enjoy it? Yes. Still, I know that I don't want a dog. I dislike the smell, the required care, the cost. I would not be an excellent dog owner, and because I do care enough about dogs, I don't want to see them subjected to anything less than excellent care. You may be like I am -- best not being a dog owner.


Robin on September 02, 2018:

Wow, so many years' worth of passionate comments here on both sides of the issue. This article and its comments have been invaluable to me. Every person on here has a unique story and a unique reason for wanting/not wanting a dog. It is truly an individual choice. You see, I am a dog lover who does not want to own a dog. My family wants one, and I have been wavering for years simply out of guilt. I have such a difficult time with the argument that "kids deserve to grow up with a dog." I do believe that is true, and feel constant guilt (welcome to motherhood) that I am depriving my kids of this wonderful experience. But the truth is, I am the one who would do 95% of the work, and I don't want a dog! Husband works 50+ hours a week and travels for work, I work at home 25 hours a week, and our teen/preteen kids are as busy as all kids those ages with sports, school, and friends. I know my kids and hubby would help with a dog, but I also know they are not home a lot, and I am. In my bones, I feel I do not want to change my life. Sometimes I feel like I am just holding it together as it is, and I don't want a giant responsibility like having a dog on top of everything else.

While my arguments are sound and logical, it's so hard to extricate myself from the massive guilt I feel. Literally every day I look at my kids and think, "They would love a dog so much. Why can't I do this for them? What's wrong with me? Why am I so selfish?" I also look at all my friends, working and busy moms too, who have dogs and are able to make it all work and even enjoy it, and I feel so lacking. My family knows I've wavered on this before, so they bring it up every so often, which renews the guilt and anxiety I feel.

Between work and parenting, I have very little downtime, and I imagine that downtime disappearing even more with the addition of a dog. I guess the real deciding factor is, all of that is worth it if YOU (the dog's primary caregiver) really want the dog. But if, like me, you want the dog FOR someone else, it is not the right thing to do. I guess I need to remind myself that, OK, maybe my kids do "deserve a dog," but you know what? They also deserve a mother who is calm and not overloaded. I can be a better parent without this added huge responsibility...and maybe I deserve to put myself first in this situation.

Nancy on April 09, 2015:

this article is very true, good to read before getting a dog, but I knew all of this before getting my pup. He was alot of work the first year, and still is, but we have shitty families and stressful work environment, and the pup takes our minds off the crap. We are much happier and laugh alot at his antics, he's a very funny frenchie.

nicole on March 06, 2014:

I have had horrible luck with dogs and it sucks because we are surrounded by dog loving neighbors, family and kids push for a dog and I though I wanted it too so I tried but have no patience....the smells, jumping up,etc...drives me nuts! I will stick with my cat for now....

Renee on January 06, 2014:

I too regret getting a dog. Perhaps it's because I just turned 53 and have raised two kids and two other dogs and I just don't want to deal with the responsibility anymore. My husband makes me feel guilty but I cannot help how I feel about this. I thought I could do it once again but find that after 3 years without a dog I like it that way. I hope I'm not being selfish but honestly most of the heavy lifting acrues to me and I just don't want to do it anymore. The dog was a shelter dog and is really REALLY submissive. Every time I walk by he pees himself and when we walk him he is scared of parked cars, moving cars, noise, movement etc. He's 6 months old and messed up so we will be returning him to the shelter. I'm sorry for that but he is no worse off than if I hadn't seen him. So lesson learned and no more dogs for me.

gredmondson (author) from San Francisco, California on May 21, 2013:


Thanks for writing. Your letter may save another from the experience. So many people are sadly unable to do what you did, take the dog back where it came from. Had you kept the dog, it would have been bad for both you and the dog. Other people who may regard you with disapproval for doing this have a lack of empathy. We have to endure them.

James on May 20, 2013:

I fully agree. My girlfriend and I adopted a dog, and since she lived with her parents, it lived with me in my apartment for a week, and this week was perhaps the worst week of my life. The dog was a terror; it ripped everything it found into shreds, including blinds, furniture, etc. I scared me half to death (being 3/4 of my size), would not follow directions, and took the largest craps of any dog I've ever seen (which had to be picked up). I hated every second of it, and ended up hating the dog.

My family had a dog growing up, but I did not realize the difference between living in a house with a dog and owning a dog until I got one. I ended up taking it back to the shelter a week after adopting it. My girlfriend hated it, and she resented me for a while, and while it is still a sore subject when brought up, I think it was one of the smartest decisions I ever made, rather than trying to live with a dog I hated.