The Guide for Dog Owners To Be

As much as you want to get yourself a dog, you should very carefully consider if you are about to do a right choice. Unfortunately, there are too many people with good intentions, who only later realize that they cannot undertake the new responsibilities and then just give away their dogs to friends or family, or worse – dump them at the shelters or just in the street.

These are the questions that you should ask yourself before getting yourself a dog:

  • Do you have enough time? Dogs are social creatures (d'uh! that is what this whole website is about) and love attention, so if you have a busy schedule and can spend only little time with your dog, you should really think twice before getting one...It will of course depend on the breed, but your dog will need daily walks (only older dogs can “hold” for 10 - 12 hours and still it makes their life rather uncomfortable), longer walks for exercise, play time, training etc. Also, the average life span of a dog varies between 12 – 18 years, so you should also think of what your schedule is going to be in the future (maybe it will involve longer hours at work, more duties, travelling etc.).
  • Can you afford it? Your new family member will come with additional costs. You should expect to incur most of the expenses at the beginning when getting your dog settled (collar, name tag, leash, bed, crate, blankets, toys, treats, food, bowls etc.), there will be initial costs for vet (especially if you are getting a puppy) and only later you should expect for the recurring expenses to shrink to just food, treats, vet and grooming (if you need help from others). There are also ad hoc costs for vet if your dog gets sick, kennel if you need to leave your dog for a while and transportation costs if you travel abroad. Don't forget to account for extra expenses when getting a puppy – they are very likely to “destroy” not only their own toys but some of your possessing too (which may need replacement).
  • What breed is right for you? People tend to choose dogs because of their looks and other associations rather than after careful examination of what type of breed suits their personality best. To be honest with you, when we got ourselves a Labrador we really didn't know what we bargained for – not all of them, but most of the male Labradors maintain “puppy-like” behavior for at least 3 years, including hyper activity, super naughtiness, “destroying” skills etc. (and that is the main reason why there are so many abandoned pure breed puppy Labradors at the shelters). Did you know that Huskeys need at least 5 km walk each day and have a tendency to howl? What about the fact that Chihuahuas are considered to be not family-friendly? And that Akitas don't fetch? There is plenty of information available on the internet (including tests and quizes) which will help you find a perfect breed for you.
  • Are you ready for a mess? You will have to accept the fact that with the dog at home either you will have to clean more often or just accept a new messy style of living. Not only dogs bring dirt home after walks, they also (depending on the breed) shed quite significant amount of hair, have drooling problem and some have an unbeatable desire to roll over in something dirty and smelly. They also don't smell very nice after getting wet and could bring that odour to your car, home and clothes. A responsible dog owner should also clean up after his/her dog after No. 2, so make sure to prepare yourself for daily picking up of “processed food”. On the positive side, you might not ever need to lift up any food that you spill or drop on the floor – your dog should help you with that, but this is as much of housework as they usually do.
  • What about your housing situation? We don't believe that space is a very important issue as any dog with a proper amount of exercise will be happy with just a place to sleep. But they will appreciate their own garden or even a pool if you can offer that. Also, if you are just renting a house or the apartment, you should first check with your landlord if they allow dogs (and, unfortunately, most of them don't).
  • What if you need to travel or get sick? Are there friends or family members who will be willing to look after your dog while you are gone or not capable to take care of him/her? It can be quite expensive to always look for the help from kennels, private nannies etc.

If any of the above questions scared you, but you still feel that desire to have a dog, we would propose fostering (taking a dog from the shelter or pet organization until the “forever home” is found). You will not only help the abandoned dog to find a new home and potentially save his/her life, but also have the possibility to see and feel for yourself what it really is to be a dog owner. And if you happen to fall in love with your “temporary” dog, you will be more than welcome to adopt and keep him/her forever!

If you decided to get yourself a dog, why not to save a life and adopt an abandoned dog from a shelter (Pets2Adopt, PAWS, Argos, Paralimni Dog Pound, Sirius Dog Sanctuary, Freedom Dog Sanctuary or shelter in your town)? Cyprus has a big problem of homeless dogs and there are more than plenty of dogs in the shelters of various breeds (including pure breeds) and ages, so you should definitely by able to find the right one for you.

People tend to be scared of adopting dogs as they are told that abandoned dogs come with the unknown health and temper issues, but you can go visit the shelter or foster homes and see for yourself – you will be surprised of how many well behaved and calm dogs are dumped for no apparent reason. If they have any current health issues, these are mainly the cause of them being stray or abused for too long and can be easily (maybe a bit costly) treated.

Let's not forget that adopting a dog might be much cheaper – you will not have to “buy” a dog and in most cases (when adopting from the pet organizations) they come with the package (microchip, vaccination, neutering/spaying).

Eventually, the decision of whether to buy or adopt is very personal and entirely up to you, we just wanted to share the “pros” of adopting, so that you could at least consider this option.

If you get a dog from a shelter, they will give you all the information of what treatment your dog has to go through and in most cases the dog will already be vaccinated and microchipped, so you may be left of with routine health treatments only.

The puppies are checked with the vet when born and issued a Book of Health with the records of any health treatments. They are then vaccinated after first, second and third month after their birth and thereafter on an annual basis. The same goes for deworming procedure, just after the third one it has to be taken regularly every X months depending on the medicine (pill) used. You should avoid taking your puppy outside until s/he gets first three vaccinations and deworming procedures.

So, if your dog is healthy, you should go to a vet only few times a year, but dog owners do tend to have the urge to run to a vet whenever their dog pukes, has diarrhea, gets cold, bloated, has any injuries etc. And in most of the cases that is what you should do! You will learn to understand when your dog is really sick and when “it is OK” with time and help of the internet.

Other important procedures are treatment from ticks (which in Cyprus are very active during the spring) – you can choose either using drops or special collar (both available at your vet).

Basic health routines that you can do at home include cleaning dogs eyes, ears, cutting nails (this is more complex, so you might let the vet or groomer to take care of it), cleaning teeth, brushing, bathing etc.

As per law, all dogs should have a microchip (the vet will implant it), but in reality only very few dog owners actually take care of that unless they really have to (e.g. when travelling abroad).

The microchip bears a unique number which is registered in the database of the vet services, so if your dog gets lost, someone who will find him/her can take your dog to any vet, who will scan the microchip and find all the information on how to contact you to arrange to pick up your dog. Otherwise your dog might end up at the shelter.

You should ask your vet to register the microchip with the vet services (and make sure they do that!).

After you do that, you should head to your municipality to get your dog licensed (it will not come as a shock that most of the people don't do that either). The annual license fee is around €20 (and much higher for the so called “dangerous breeds”).

Pet organizations encourage you to neuter/spay your dog because “why breed when there are so many dogs without a home”. Neutering/spaying may also help in avoiding various temper, behaviour and health issues.

Whether to do that or not is entirely up to you and you can decide after having read the information available online, just remember that it is best to do that quite early (before your dog gets to 6 months), so this should be one of the first important decisions for you to take.

It is very sad that we have to mention this at all, but dog poisoning is a very widely spread problem in Cyprus with dogs being poisoned almost every day. Yes, it is difficult to comprehend, but some of the people hate dogs to a level when they try to kill them by leaving poison in the streets, so make sure your dog does not lick or eat anything while out and update yourself constantly on poison alerts. Be extra careful during hunting season.

Most of the poisons act very quickly and your dog could die in just 20 minutes, so even before you can get to a vet. What you can do is to ask for your vet's mobile number so that you can reach the vet in case of emergency (you might need that for other cases anyway) and also get the initial vaccinations that you can use on your dog yourself (your vet will explain you how and when to use them). We sincerely hope that you will never actually need them.

Dogs enjoy walks, but be careful of the length and distance of your walks in puppy years. Some puppies are full of energy and may never seem tired and will not show when the exercise was enough (yes, we are talking about Buddy), therefore you should follow a 5 minute rule recommended by most vets, i.e. walk puppy for 5 minutes for each month of his/her age. According to this rule, a 3 months old puppy should walk for no longer than 15 minutes and a 6 months old puppy can walk for half an hour. Only when your dog is fully grown and developed (past 18 months) you can pay less attention to the duration of your walks and just observe on how your dog actually feels (the heat will become a more important issue for you).