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Getting A Dog

The decision to get a dog is not something to be taken lightly. An adorable puppy can tug at your heartstrings but, in the end, will require a substantial investment of your time and money for a significant number of years. Making this decision impulsively can lead to frustration, disappointment, and may eventually result in the surrender of the dog to a shelter or rescue.

The sad fact is that, here in the US, millions of dogs are prematurely euthanatized every year. Most often it is the owners, not the dogs, who are responsible for their premature deaths. Impulsive or poorly thought out decisions that fail to consider how a particular breed and the individual dog will fit your lifestyle, both now and for the next 12 to 14 years, as well as the lack of proper socialization, training, physical activity, and attention all contribute significantly to the need for so many shelters and rescues.

The first question you should ask yourself, honestly . . . Why do I/we want a dog? If your answer is:

  • For my son/daughter/children
    Trust me, this will be YOUR dog. The kids will play with the dog occasionally, will groan and grumble about any dog-related responsibilities, and will probably only do them begrudgingly after significant prodding from you. Further, children's interests and activities change frequently, which will render their involvement with the dog inconsistent at best.
  • For protection
    Though the typical English Springer may bark at unusual noises or a knock on the door, good locks and an alarm system are much more appropriate and effective steps to take.
  • To breed puppies
    If you've read the second paragraph of this piece and still feel this way, there is probably little I can offer to change your mind. But, just in case, let me restate the case a little more thoroughly. The breeding of dogs is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. If you do not intend to remain responsible for all of the puppies you produce for their entire lives, including being willing to take back and care for those who may find themselves homeless, do not enter into this endeavor. If you are planning on breeding for profit, understand that there are much easier, more profitable and ethical ways to make a buck. To responsibly and humanely breed dogs requires a significant investment of time, money, labor, knowledge (both academic and practical), patience, and emotional fortitude. Please visit a few of the shelter sites or your local shelter and witness the problem yourself. View the faces of the homeless dogs and talk to the volunteers and staff who, all too often, must take that 'final walk' with them.
  • Because Breed X is 'Cool', was in a movie you saw, is unique and exotic, is free/cheap, or other such nonsense . . .
    One of the WORSE reasons to get a dog, or any other animal, for that matter, is because of their physical appearance or popularity due to a movie, TV show, or other publicity. And, remember to incorporate the same thoughtful consideration of whether or not to get a dog when your friend, coworker or relative offers you one of Fluffy's puppies. Dogs are never really 'free' or 'cheap' and, in reality, require significant financial, physical, time, and environmental resources.

However, if you are interested in getting a dog for the RIGHT reasons, please ask yourself the following questions prior to selecting a breed and breeder or visiting your local shelter or rescue facility:

  1. Are you, and all those who live with you, committed to spending 12+ years providing health care, food, grooming, training and attention to a dog? Do the people who live with you also want a dog?
  2. Do you have the time and/or resources available . . . to take your dog for walks and to the vet? to bathe, brush, clip, and, otherwise, groom your dog as often as necessary? . . . will you want to play and, perhaps, work on training daily, with your dog? . . . are you willing to take your dog to puppy kindergarten and basic obedience classes?
  3. Could lifestyle-altering events occur in your foreseeable future, such as a baby, caring for an elderly family member, a divorce, job uncertainty, children leaving for college, etc.? How would you deal with these changes as they impacted your ability to care for a dog?
  4. Is your personality conducive to dog ownership? Do you like to have total control over your environment or 'space'? Are you a 'neat freak'? Are you flexible? Patient? Answer honestly - nobody but you will know AND, more importantly, nobody but you will have to live with the results of your trying to 'fit' your personality to a dog.
  5. Is your environment prepared to accommodate a dog and/or are you willing to make the investment of time and money necessary to assure that it does? Is there a yard or park area for your dog to walk/relieve himself or herself? Is your yard, or a portion of it, fenced? If your dog will be outside for any period of time, will you provide a secure and comfortable shelter for your dog?
  6. Will your dog be alone for long periods of time daily? Can you arrange for the dog to be let out for a romp, given water, medication, and playtime, as necessary, during the day? Or, will you become angered and frustrated by behavioral issues that may arise due to the fact that your dog is alone for long periods of time?
  7. Are you willing to spay/neuter your dog, as soon as possible, to reduce the chance of an accidental breeding?
  8. Do you travel frequently? Will it be difficult for you to find quality care for your dog when you are away?
  9. Do you really LOVE dogs? If you are truly motivated by your love of dogs, or a particular dog, you most likely don't need this page. You've done your homework and are ready for a lifelong commitment. You will train and play with your dog, provide appropriate veterinary care and nutrition, you will bathe and groom him or her, happily, and the occasional behavioral problem won't throw you for a loop. If this is the case, please visit the other sections of this site for helpful articles on this breed, and further decisions that you will need to make -- puppy or adult?, adoption or breeder?, finding a breeder, preparation for your dog, training, care, and more.

See the Breeder Referral Page if you would like additional information on obtaining an English Springer Spaniel from a breeder who agrees to support and follow these ESSFTA Guidelines for Responsible Breeders