How to Become a Dog Lover
Often referred to as man’s best friends, dogs offer a lot in the form of cuddles and companionship. Whether you’re considering adopting one or will inherit one via a roommate or significant other; becoming a dog person has never been easier. By familiarizing yourself with dogs and finding ways to be around them, you’ll be on your way to loving man’s best friend in no time.
Getting into a Dog Mindset
1. Buy dog paraphernalia. Stock up on t-shirts, stickers and posters of dogs. You don't have to spend a lot of money or buy anything in particular. If you're out and about and see something funny or cute that features a dog, go ahead and buy it.
- If you're on Pinterest, try doing a search for "cute dog stuff." There may be artwork, calendars or other items, which can provide you with inspiration for adding to your dog collection.
2. Do online searches. To become a dog person, you should familiarize yourself with different breeds. There may be some you relate to and like more than others and by studying the different types of dogs, you have a better chance of finding the right match for you.
- Start by doing an online search to familiarize yourself with different breeds. Just Google, “dog breeds” and see what comes up.
- Start with the “A’s” and work your way through the alphabet. Or, if you have a particular type of dog you think you may like, start there.
- It may help to find a dog that fits your personality. People have a tendency to gravitate towards pets that resemble them in some capacity. Think about your favorite characteristics and try including that in your search.
- Some sites, such as the American Kennel Club, feature a blurb about the dog’s personality. You may be able to scroll through the list and pick out different qualities you like.
3. Watch shows about dogs. Observing dogs and their behavior on TV is another great way to familiarize yourself with your new friends. You may even find yourself thinking about how it would feel to own a dog of your own.
- There are a lot of great shows on TV right now, which are about or pertain to dogs. Tune into Animal Planet or take a look at their website to see what shows they are currently airing.
- Some shows are about people who take care of dogs, while others are about training animals. Try to watch a mix of shows before focusing in on what suits your interests.
- If you’re just looking for something cute and cuddly, try watching the Puppy Bowl. The event takes place before the Super Bowl and acts as a competition for furry “frienemies.”
- Another opportunity to familiarize yourself with dogs, is the National Dog Show, which takes place on Thanksgiving. The show features a wide range of dog breeds. While you may learn a little more about each dog’s characteristics, more than anything you’ll be able to observe many different types of breeds.
4. Read a book. Whether it’s a picture book or a heartwarming story; there are plenty of books available, which will transform anyone into a dog person. Oprah’s book list for dog lovers is a great place to start.
- If you’re looking for a picture book, narrow in on what type of picture book you’re looking for. There are picture books by breed as well as books that will tug on the heartstrings, such as “Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth.”
- Browse through Oprah’s online list of dog books. There are brief descriptions of each book, so you’re sure to find one book you can relate to or are interested in.
Finding Ways to be Around Dogs
1. Visit a dog park. If you want to do some more active research on dogs, visit a local dog park. Do a search for parks near you. Some are specifically designated for small dogs, while others are for larger ones.
- When you're there, ask people if you can pet their dog. Talk with them about why they chose the dog they have and what they like best about that particular breed.
- You may want to bring a few treats for the dogs. This will help them to warm up to you. Be aware though, that you may gain more friends than you feel comfortable with, as the dogs may swarm at the scent of treats!
2. Volunteer at a local shelter. One of the best ways to be around dogs, is to find a local shelter where you can volunteer. There are many opportunities for volunteers including feeding and walking the dogs. Don’t worry if you’re not there yet, though!
- Do an online search for local animal shelters. You should be able to find more information as to how to volunteer, but if you’re having a hard time, give them a call.
- There are usually a lot of great opportunities and what’s more, there are a lot of great benefits to working with the animals. You’ll discover new things about yourself, while helping to improve a dog’s situation.
3. Hang out with a friend’s dog. If you’re not quite ready to be around a number of dogs, try starting with a friend’s pet. It may be an easier transition if you have the owner close by to monitor the interaction.
- You may feel more comfortable meeting at a local park, while the dog is still on a leash. Ask your friend to meet you there.
- Once you’ve gotten to know the dog, you may feel more comfortable being around them at home. Let them smell your hand first and try bringing a dog treat with you, to start building the relationship.
4. Walk dogs. If you’re interested in getting some exercise and being around dogs, you may want to consider walking your neighbors dogs.
- You should start with just one dog. Familiarize yourself with the animal prior to the first walk. Ask to see the leash and learn about his/her walking habits.
- It may be best to start with a smaller dog, as they are often easier to control on a leash.
- Do not take on the responsibility if you can’t ensure your safety and the safety of the dog, while walking.
5. Foster a dog. After all of your dog research, you may begin to feel like you’re ready to take on the responsibility of owning a dog. However, if you’re not quite ready to commit to 11 years, which is the average lifespan of a dog, you should consider fostering one.
- Local shelters are often looking for foster families to provide temporary comfort, love and support to the many homeless dogs.
- Terms and conditions vary greatly, so be sure to ask a lot of questions. You should know everything from what your financial responsibilities will be, to how the dog interacts with other animals and children.
- If you have a child in your home, make sure you try introducing the dog to your child before committing to the animal. Even if the shelter says they are good with children, you will want to make the introduction on your own.
- Understand that if you fall in love with the dog, you may not be able to keep it and it may only be with you for a very short period of time.
- You should also be aware of the challenges you could face when fostering an animal. Many have come from poor conditions and bad situations. They may have health or behavioral issues.
6. Choose to adopt. You’re finally ready to take the leap and transform into a true dog person. Adopting a dog is a very big step! Remember, you’re committing to your new friend for 11 to even 20 years.
- Adoption should never be taken lightly. The worst thing you can do to a dog is to give him/her back to the shelter because you are unable to handle the responsibility.
- Read up on the breed you’re considering adopting. You should learn about potential health issues, as well their unique characteristics.
- Determine what the financial responsibilities will be and what basic care of a dog entails. If you work all day, you may need to find someone to let your dog out for potty breaks. These are all things to take into consideration before making the lifelong commitment.
- Try volunteering as a dog walker at your local animal shelter. Even if you don't end up being a dog lover, you will feel good knowing you have done a good deed.
- When meeting a dog for the first time, let them sniff your hand first. Don't run at them or throw your hand out to pet them.