A dog is a compassionate friend, an entertainer, a protector and a teacher. It’s no wonder that so many kids dream of having a dog as a pet. However, many people consider dogs as smelly, hair-shedding nuisances that poop everywhere and bring dirt inside the house. Others perceive them as a menace and a source of various diseases and allergies. So why should you get a dog?
They are an exuberant friend
Having a dog as a companion can have serious health benefits, including preventing depression and loneliness. Dogs are always ready and willing, regardless of the weather or day of the week. They become our best friends, a trusted confidant – who hasn’t had a heart-to-heart with their dog? – and an all-round cool companion to hang out with.
A cuddle or a playful interaction with a dog stimulates a hormone called oxytocin which soothes the anxiety system, and being free of anxiety is a plus for anyone. Dogs are also the master socialiser. Usually you can walk past people on a road or a beach and exchange nothing more than a nod. But if you have a dog, people often want to chat.
They help us to maintain good health
As well as having a positive impact on our mental health, there is no doubt that having a dog can have a positive impact on our physical health too. Dogs love, and need, exercise. They love to run, chase, play and sometimes even swim, which means you have to get up and out with them. You don’t need to start signing up for 10k runs every day, but a good walk, with a bit of play, does far more good than sitting on the sofa.
They protect us
We live in a very safe environment in Phuket, but having a dog provides just that little bit of extra protection. Dogs are likely to bark at strange noises in the middle of the night that we may otherwise not notice. The smell of an unfamiliar person approaching the house can also trigger a bark or two, sending would-be burglars scrambling away.
They help our kids
I’m not much of an advocate for ‘getting a dog for our kids’. Whilst in principal this has huge merit, the reality is that taking care of the dog is likely to become largely the parents’ responsibility, and if you’re not prepared for that, it can lead to problems. That said, having a dog is often awesome for kids, and by simply spending time with a dog, they can develop various skills and learn more about responsibility.
Kids can also improve their skills by reading aloud to their dog. A dog will be a kind listener who won’t interrupt and won’t criticise them for their mistakes. Thus, by reading to a dog, your kid can effectively improve the fluency of their speech and reduce fear of speaking aloud. This is why the Waggin’ Tail Tutor programme we run here in Phuket has become so successful.
In short, I would always argue that the benefits of having a dog far outweigh any negatives that you might ponder over. That said, it’s not something to rush into. If you have any questions about what you might be getting yourself into, you can call us for a chat about what owning a dog is really all about.
CPA is the only K9 organisation in Thailand accredited with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), and as an American Kennel Club (AKC) Evaluator.