10 Reasons Not to Have a Dog (Downsides of Ownership)

It’s not hard to come up with reasons to get a dog: they’re cute, they’re fun, they’re smart and they’re loving. But there are also reasons not to have a dog, and it’s important to consider them as well.

After all, as much as we love dogs, owning one isn’t all sunshine and roses. In between cuddles and games of fetch, you’ll be dealing with poop, vet bills, naughty behavior, and plenty of emotions.

We’ve compiled the top 10 reasons why owning a dog may not be right for you. If you see any dealbreakers on this list, you may want to think twice before getting a dog.

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Own a Dog

Collie dog brings the flying disc

1. Dogs Need Tons of Attention

Part of why we love our dogs is because our dogs love us. They greet us when we come home, cuddle with us while we watch TV and always seem happy to see us.

But there will be times when your dog wants your attention and you’re just not feeling like it. And you’ll have to make some compromises when those times come.

You don’t need to give into those whines, begs and cries for attention all the time. But if you don’t spend quality time with your dog every day, he’ll start to feel lonely and may act out.

So as a dog owner, you’ll often need to put your feelings and desires aside to do the right thing for your dog. If you don’t think you can do that, dog ownership may not be for you.

2. Vet Bills Can Be Enormous

We’d love it if our dogs never got sick or injured and thus never needed to go to the vet. But chances are that at some point in your dog’s life, he’ll need to be treated for a medical condition.

And when that day comes, you’re likely to experience some sticker shock when you see the vet bill.

Veterinary care is expensive. At a minimum, you’ll need to bring your dog in once a year for a checkup, which costs between $200 and $400 on average.

And that’s assuming that the vet doesn’t find anything wrong with him. If he tests positive for heartworm, for instance, treatment could cost $400 to $1,000.

Emergency vet care is even more expensive, often costing thousands of dollars. And for serious illnesses like cancer, you could be paying five figures for surgery and ongoing treatment.

3. Dogs Can Bring Parasites Into Your Home

Fleas, ticks, worms… parasites may be the only creatures on Earth that love dogs more than humans do! They bite, they transmit diseases and they breed like crazy — and if you own a dog, you’ll have to deal with them eventually.

Parasites can make life unbearable for your dog and wreak havoc on your well-being, too. So if you have a bug phobia or just aren’t ready to start a strict pest control regimen, don’t get a dog.

4. Pee and Poop Are Constant Worries

Maybe you’ll get lucky and end up with a dog who’s perfectly potty-trained, never has accidents, and always goes when and where you want him to. But it’s far more likely that you’ll have to work with your dog to get the pee and poop routine down pat — and even then, accidents happen.

Your dog will need to go out multiple times a day to do his business. And it’ll be your job to pick up his poop and make sure he pees inappropriate places.

You’ll also need to monitor his stool for signs of parasites or illness, and clean up after him if he makes a mess inside. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s a necessary part of dog ownership.

5. Communication Can Be Tricky

Dogs can be very expressive communicators, but since they can’t talk or write, communication breakdowns are a given. There will be times when he needs or wants something and you can’t figure out what — and vice versa.

You’ll need to learn your dog’s language and be patient while he learns yours. And you’ll need to be willing to adjust your methods and expectations when, inevitably, you just can’t understand each other sometimes.

Not up for some challenging communication? Then you’re not up for owning a dog.

6. Dogs Can Exacerbate Allergies and Asthma

You may not think you have a dog allergy, but living with one could prove you wrong. Being in the same room as a dog for long periods of time can turn mild allergies into severe ones, and you’ll need to either deal with it or go without a dog.

Respiratory conditions like asthma can also get worse when you live with a dog. Consider not just your health but that of your friends and family before you get a dog — and don’t get one if it will put you or your loved ones at risk.

7. Dogs Need Frequent Exercise

Don’t want to go for a walk in the rain? Tired after work and aren’t up for a game of chase in the backyard?

Well, too bad! Your dog will need exercise every day, whether you feel like it or not.

Dogs that don’t get enough exercise run the risk of becoming obese and developing health problems. They also tend to be anxious, restless and destructive.

If you’re not willing to set aside a portion of your day, every day, for exercising with your dog, you should consider getting a less-active pet.

8. Noise and Destruction Are Part of the Package

It’s inevitable: at some point, your dog will behave disruptively, and you’ll have to handle it with grace, understanding and consistency.

Whether he’s barking at squirrels, begging for table scraps, chewing up shoes or running full-speed up and down the hall, your dog will sometimes be a nuisance. Getting angry at him won’t solve anything — you’ll need to read up on training techniques and dog discipline to resolve the problem.

Dog ownership means accepting that sometimes your pup will annoy you and some of your belongings will be ruined. And you’ll need to be patient and work with him to get through it together.

9. You’ll Need to Plan Your Life Around Your Dog

Young purebreed alsatian dog in the park

Impromptu vacations, impulsive hangouts and other spontaneous activities are much trickier for dog owners than for others. Your dog doesn’t understand that you want to go to happy hour with your coworkers — he just wants to see you, go for a walk and eat his dinner.

A dog won’t put his needs on hold just for you. As his owner, it’ll be your responsibility to structure your life around him, make plans for his care and ensure that he’s got everything he needs.

Your dog will be dependent on you, no matter what. If you’re not ready for that, hold off on adopting a dog until you are.

10. Eventually, You’ll Have to Say Goodbye

In all likelihood, you will outlive your dog. Dogs live for around 10-13 years on average, but those years fly by a lot faster than you’d think.

When your dog’s lifespan runs its course, you’ll need to make some difficult decisions and go through a heartbreaking grief process. There’s just no way around it, and you’ll need to accept that eventually, your dog will pass away.

Bereavement is, without a doubt, the worst part of dog ownership. Nobody wants to go through it, but if you can’t accept it, then owning a dog may not be right for you.

Also, read more about 10 Reasons Not to Adopt a Dog.

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