Dogs are a seriously great pet. And I really, really want one. I already have my cat, who I absolutely love. But my cat is self-sufficient in a way that dogs just aren’t. My cat spends most of the day sleeping, has my roommate’s cat to play with, and doesn’t need to go outside to go to the bathroom. I have my cat partially because I saw him and fell in love with him, but also because I really wanted a pet, but I knew I wasn’t ready for a dog. Nearly four years later I’m still not, because:
1. Dogs are more social. Cats can absolutely be very social animals, and they need just as much love as dogs do. But cats also need some space sometimes, and I know quite a few dogs who would be fine with no space whatsoever. I know lots of dogs who need, absolutely need to be near their owner. It makes sense because dogs are pack animals and like to have a leader around. At least, that’s what I’ve learned from The Dog Whisperer. They are fine for a couple hours without their person, but watch any dog greet their owner at the end of the work day. If they could speak english they would probably be saying “OH MY GOD! YOU’RE ALIVE! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I WAS SO WORRIED! I’M HUNGRY!” Though, they might put the hungry part first. If my cat could speak english then when I get home he would say “Sup?” Granted, my cat gets mad at me on Mondays when I am out of the house for twelve hours. But he is not anxious about it. If you have any type of job that keeps you away from the house for long periods of time, consider that dogs are more likely to be stressed out by that sort of thing.
2. Dogs need to be walked. Dogs need exercise that usually can’t be spent by pawing at a laser pointer. They also, generally, do their business outside. This comes right down to having long work hours. If you do, is your future dog going to be crossing his back legs, trying to be a good boy and not pee in the house? Is your dog going to be pacing the floor waiting for his chance to go out? This is a problem best solved by living with a romantic partner or roommates. Maybe there will be someone home who can take your dog out. But if their isn’t, maybe a dog isn’t the right choice for you yet.
3. Dogs get in to things. Dogs like to dig around in the trash. A lot. They like to eat sneakers and drink from the toilet bowl. Do you have the type of lifestyle that would be safe for a dog to be left alone around when you’re at work? Or are they going to be knocking over the twelve beer bottles you left on the counter, drinking the drops and walking through broken glass? That example is purely from my imagination, but it was a scenario I imagined when I was first considering getting a dog. And I realized that I lived with people, and was a student, and we all drank beer and left the bottles on the coffee table. So I’m not judging if you do that from time to time. What it really boils down to is, how organized is your life? What do you have that a dog is likely to get into?
So you may have read this and thought “none of that applies to me! Time for a dog!” and I hope that is the case. But make sure, no matter what pet you get, that you think about the environment from their point of view. Cats are more low maintenance, but you still have to make changes for them too. Ask yourself what you can do to make your pet happy. If there are things in your life that you can’t alter right now but that a dog (or a cat) needs, then you aren’t ready yet.