What Is The Worst Thing About Owning A Dog?

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Dogs bring tons of joy, love, and companionship into our lives. But they can also bring other "stuff". There is always bad with the good.

So...Dr. Debra tossed out a poll a few weeks ago and asked dog lovers – What is the worst thing about owning a dog? The goal is NOT to deter anyone from getting a dog but to be educated about the pros and cons to make sure a dog is the right fit for them.

Over 3300 dog lovers responded and the results were as follows:

What is the worst thing about owning a dog?        %

What is the worst thing about owning a dog?%
Difficulty traveling/board or get pet sitter21
Other answer13
Pet hair13
Cost of medical care12
Inappropiate urination9
Barking or whining7
Destroying things6
Pet odors4
Aggression4
Walking dog3
Wanting to go outside3
Jumping up3
Waking you up2
Other behavioral problems2
Cost of pet food2



There was a large number that said other. There was an obvious choice that we left out – you'll soon see what it was.

These were the responses:

Other "worst things about owning a dog" that was not on the list

  • Edna wrote - I said the hair, jumping up & the medical costs just for the minimum needs. She is a choc. lab mix & sheds a lot! She is well behaved & easy to train. Thought she was a year old when we adopted her but she was only 9 months. Had her spayed, her shots, worm & disease tests, worm treatment, etc... Cost a bundle! They really seem to take advantage of our love for our pets. But we would not trade our girl for anything. She helps take care of the kitten we found & rescued too. Shares her food with him & won't eat until he starts. She is a love but she jumps too much. We love them both so much.

  • Debra wrote - the only bad thing about owning a dog is watching them be sick and die ...

  • Kristi - The absolute worst thing is when your beloved dog gets sick/old and you have to say goodbye. That's the hardest thing in the world and the biggest dread I think up when I get a new dog.

  • Denise - I think the worst thing about a pet is that when your pet is hurt or sick you do not know if you are doing everything possible for your pet. They never complain and you just look at their sad eyes and hope they are getting btter

  • Donna - I have 3 dogs, and they are the joy of my life. There are some inconveniences of having dogs - the pet hair, finding someone I trust to keep them when I go on vacation, the cost of medical care (1 of my dogs has had many health problems, and takes a lot of medications)... but it is all worth that unconditional love you get each and every day. The hardest part, as others have said, is seeing them get sick, doing all you can to make them well, knowing they trust you, but can't tell you how they feel... and then the day they have to go to Heaven (and yes, I believe dogs go to Heaven). It breaks your heart. But it is definitely worth it, and I'll do it over and over again!

  • Joanne Knoll - You didn't list the "clean up behind" your pets. I have two Great Danes and one English Mastiff and it is the poop patrol detail that I hate the most, but it has to be done. They are worth it!

  • Rick - My two dogs pre-date my kids. The worst part of dog ownership now is the guilt I feel when I can't give them the attention now (with 3 kids between 2 and 6) that I could when it was just my wife and I.

  • After a lifetime of loving them, they will get old and die. That is the worst part. My son told me we must "love them enough to let them go," but that is SO hard.

  • Dr. CLK- Owning a dog is a doomed love affair in most cases. One will usually outlive them. The loss of a beloved dog remains forever - much as the loss of a child. Another cannot replace the one who has died. All are unique in personality and character and cannot be forgotten. Would I change the experience? Never - I have three now and with love and sadness remember three.

  • Kelly Madsen- Medical bills can be a real negative sometimes especially with 3 dogs, but I think the biggest inconvenience is not being able to go on vacations. 1) I couldn't afford to board 3 dogs, 2) I don't know anyone that would take all 3 dogs or come stay at my house. Even if any of these were an option, I could never relax because I would be too worried about my "fur kids".

  • Annie- I too agree that the worst part of being a pet owner is the end of their little lives...All of my yorkies have not aged gracefully and i have either had to make the decision to put them down or, recently, i came home and found my 15 year old passed. I still cry every day but i did go out and get a new yorkie puppy and even though its hard to deal with the "puppy stage" of biting, potty training, etc it is all well worth it to see the love they give you when u walk in the door. when she falls asleep on me and snuggles each night my heart is so full it feels like it will burst. I totally believe in obedience training for the puppy as well at the owner and think that really makes a difference in how you react as a new dog owner... Owning a puppy is not something you should rush into. Definitley do your research on the breed and make sure you do have someone reliable that you can count on to watch him/her when your considering traveling, or in my case, take them with you wherever you go!!..i have no children and my pets are exactly that to me...my family who i love more than anything

  • Tara- The worst thing is when I see people who haven't given enough time into owning a pet. On Craig'slist alone, I see so many pets who have become "throw-aways" because the owner(s) did not think things through before buying/adopting a pet. Dogs live an average of 12-13 years. This is a long-term commitment. They require time, attention, medical care, patience, and a lot of love. We adopted a puppy from a rescue shelter and she is the love of our family. We thought long and hard about what breeds would work best for our family dynamic, and how much we would need to set aside for her care. She is a lab/boxer mix and is now 10 mos. old. She is so awesome and does really well with our autistic daughter and her twin brother. She is part of our family. Wherever we go through any moves, promotions etc.. she will be with us. We made a commitment to her and will love her throughout her entire life.

  • Judy- The worst thing about being a guardian to a dog is when that dog crosses the Rainbow Bridge. I really believe that dog takes a piece of your heart with him/her. We just lost one of our beloved redheads in June and are still grieving for him. He left such a hole in the heart. The tears still come

  • Betty Jo Phaff- After looking at the polls, I am convinced that I have a very good dog. If the only thing I could check was pet hair, that's nothing. I bought a Furminator and it works wonders. My dog has never had an accident in the house. I was very lucky that she was house broken at nine weeks. She is just very smart. I can't think of any reason not to have a dog. They are the best friend you will ever have and love you unconditionally. I wouldn't take anything in the world for her.

  • Marilyn- I have a Brussels Griffon and love him to death. His my shadow. He can't have me out of his sight. If I leave the house he sits facing the door until I return. I hate going anywhere without him. I think this is one of the disadvantages of owning a pet. I get too attached so I stay home most of the time.

  • Sister Juanita- I love my dog Betsy of 15 l/2 years old. I would do anything for her.The worst thing I can see coming is the day that God will call her to Heaven and she will leave me. But one day we will meet again.

  • Bo- I have found that the worst part of owning a dog(s) is that they die too soon and you are never ready to let them go. I would, and have, put up with helping aging dog's problems with urination, paying for live - in sitters, spending thousands in vet bills, odors, hair, etc, to give my precious creatures the best life I can. My dogs are MY responsibility to love, care for, respect, and I have always received from them more than I have ever given.

  • Jean Deegan- Our worst fear is of losing our little peke, Tilly, to passing away...she is 10 yrs. old and has had pancreas problems, but doing well this winter...she seems so vibrant and full of life, but still worry about when that time will come...

  • Tom Farney- I agree that the worst thing is the end of their lives. When I think about my former companions, I try to remember that all of them are waiting to tell St. Peter to let me in.

  • Peggy- We raise miniature poodles and the worst thing that I have come across is finding someone you can trust to take care of your loved ones when you go away. We are just now starting over with young ones and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Yes we have to potty train and teach them what is right and wrong but you do the same with your children right? Our four legged kids deserve the very best and only we can give it to them. So instead of thinking of the worst things that come with raising a pup think of the good things that will happen to you in the next 15 to 20 years and remember that your pup will be right there at your side for the good and bad. I agree that loosing your fur baby is a terrible thing but when it comes to that time you have to know in your heart to do what is right for them. When they look at you and you know it is time be strong one more time for them and let them go with God and you will see them when your time comes. They have always looked up to us to take care of them and this is one of those times. The tears are with us for a long time but the JOY of having them to love for the years we had is something we'll never ever forget. Gotta love those Poodles!!!

  • Joyce A. Anthony- While losing one of my furkids is devastating (I lost 4 kitties within 24 hours at one point), the pain is inevitable. It comes with living and growing old--and I like to think I made their lives wonderful. For me, the day-to-day worst thing is having to go outside in all kinds of weather for a potty break! Last week, the temps were in the negative numbers-and I swear if he spoke English, my Sam woukld have protested on how unfair it was that the cats, birds, chinchilla and humans all got to stay where it was warm-and he had to freeze his butt just to do his business :-) U wasn't that thrilled to have to be out there either!

  • Jess- Be very careful about researching the personality traits typically associated with the breed of dog you are considering adopting. My husband and I adopted a chiuahuah/toy fox terrier mix a little over 2 years ago because we wanted a little dog and he was absolutely adorable. However, he is so anxious, high-strung and hyper that we often have a hard time enjoying him. He barks loudly at everyone who comes to the door, walks by the fence, and even when he hears people talking outside our house (we live on a busy corner with quite a bit of foot traffic, so this is an all day, every day problem.) He is very jealous and needy, which has become even more apparent since we brought home our first baby 7 weeks ago. It's become such a problem that we aren't sure if we will be able to keep him, especially once our baby is mobile. Fortunately, my mom will take him if that happens. (As annoying as he can be, it would still break my heart to just give him to a shelter.) This is the first dog I've ever had, and it's certainly been a learning experience. I hope this helps anyone considering adopting a dog.

  • Mary - hmmm 226 vote for pet hair? Should be a non issue. I tell my husband he sheds almost as much as my dog. So what if the carpet, couch, bed, kitchen etc always has dog hair, my doggy is so worth it!!

  • Dave- The fear of one day losing my dog(s) is always there, and actually losing a pet is obviously the worst part about having one, but I have to remind myself of how much love and joy they bring, as well as the fact that they are living a very good life here at the "chateau." I just wish all pet owners would take their responsibilities seriously. Too often I see people who want to have the pets without actually taking ownership of them. And my real "pet" peeve is parents who get a pet for their kids, tell their kids that the pet is their responsibility, and actually believe it. Some people are just too clueless to have pets at all. We have four dogs, plus one who has passed, and recently a cat who has decided to "adopt" us, because our neighbors are of the clueless type I mentioned above. We love all of them as if they were our kids. I also believe we will once again be with our pets on the other side when our days on earth are done.

  • James R Taylor - I have had several dogs and most of them have been larger dogs. I had one Goldeen Retreiver and the rest of them (5) were German Shepherds. I loved everyone of them as though they were my kids. We had to have 4 of the German Shepherds put to sleep from cancer and hip displasia. I thought that I wanted to die with each of them. they were my total companions and were by my side until the end. My second on had cancer quite bad. This probably was one of the reasons that I thought would never have another dog. My Vet here at home did all that he could to save her and then told me to take her to a vet that specialized in dogs with cancer. This well known vet took her in and said that she could probably save her. I was doughtful but I would do anything for this dog, named LADY. I went to several sessions with this Vet and was told that she was doing great. When I took LADY for her last session I was told that she wasn't doing as good as was hoped but there was one more operation to try and I said , go for it as I so didn't want to lose my right hand, which is what she was. When I got home, my Wife of 40 some years asked me if I had any idea just how much we had spent on Lady' though she never said no to any of the opperations, but when she said that it was almost $5000.00 I had to meke one of my deecesions of what to do. I asked my original Vet at home and he said that it was up to me but he didn't think that there was much if any hope. So I took my right hand to this Vet and held her head as he put her to sleep. This was the hardest thing that I have ever done in my 60 some years, but I thought it out and didn't want to see her suffer anymore and If I do it right I would see her in the Great Dog House in heaven. She saw some sheep on a hill by the road and didn't know just what they were but every time that we drove by it she would start barking. I still have to drrive by the sheep about every day and when i do my eyes start to tear up and even sometimes I cry.I can't help it as I still miss this dog so much, even if I have had two German Shepherds since that I loved just as much. I have a Beautiful German Shepherd now that I love as much as the others. He is about 2 years old and is just full of the dickens but I am having a great time with him. I am a glutton for punishment but I love dogs.

  • Brennan Kingsland- There are many nuisances with pet ownership, like flea prevention, soiling and odors - but they pale in comparison to losing a beloved pet. I have learned to treasure the few short years I have with them, and love them as much as I can while they are with me. The other stuff can all be managed with proper pet care. Death can't be managed.

  • Sue Clark- I lost my little dog, Poppy, last week. The pain of loss is terrible and I feel so guilty that due to being distressed over christmas I made her last few weeks stressful, we know they pick up on our emotions. I also delayed taking her to the vet the morning she died, although the vet said it wouldn't have made any difference I still feel I let her down. She was such a pretty, loving, trusting girl, she was my life. Would I have not wanted her in my life if I had known the depth of pain I was going to feel on losing her? She blessed my life so much and enriched it, of course I would want her in my life. Would she ahve wanted me in her life - although I loved her I wasn't the best of owners, I tended to be lazy with the walking, especially if I was feeling down and I often got stressed out.

  • Greta- I have a Norwegian Elkhound who is very easy to train and well behaved all but his lose of hair because of the type of dog he is for shedding. We will miss him very very much if/when we need to make the decision to put him down or he dies. He is our only child because we can't have any real kids. I've only had Elkhounds my whole life and I know for sure that he will be with use very very long. I do know when I'm not feeling well because of my illness that he stays by my side. He will even lay on the couch with me. We believe that dogs and cats (which we have 2 cats) are costly but we will do anything for them. I think some times I over react for how they fell since they can't tell us how they are felling. Just want to make sure that my children are in good/great health so that they are with us for a very long time. He is also great for greeting people (even when he knows their name). I'm sure that I could go on and on about how great our children are to use.

  • Kirsten- The worst part of owning a dog is making the descion to have them put to sleep.

  • Maizie - Mine worst thing is losing one as in pretty much everyone elses!!!!! Just last week I had to decide to send my baby Rocky to doggie Heaven, he wasn't yet 3!!!!!! I cry all the time!!!!! there's a big big hole, tho I still have 3, 2 sheppard mix sisters I found 5 years ago (whom shed extremely but who cares) and my oldest I adopted 9 years ago she is a mastiff mix and a BIG bundle of joy!!!!! My little guy Rocky was a pit mix whom also was someones throw away and one thing that consoles me is we were able to give him a little over 2 years of Love and happiness!!!! After a couple thousand dollars in vet bills we could no longer keep holding on his heart just keep bleeding out and we had to let him go!!!!!! This message is written in memory of "ROCKY"!!!!

  • Michele - I agree THE hardest thing is to lose them but having to make the decision to have them put to aleep is heart wrenching. I still feel guilty when I had to have 2 put down because of their backs(have minitiature dachshunds)and recently had to have one of the loves of my life put down due to cancer.Her type was fast growing and usually by the time you feel a lump it's already started spreadingChemo would have been several thousand (which is a significant amout for me)I also didn't want to put her through that at 13.Would I ever switch breeds-knowing about the back issues? I cannot imagine life without my doxies. It's so sad though. I thought I should be responsible and get a rescue rather than buy another one and save a life but there are"fights" over them so so infrequent.But then there are tons of chiquaquas and beagles because people didn't check into the breedsbefore getting them then take them to shelters when they can't manage them or they weeren't what they expected.God bless the rest of you animal lovers too-ever notice how nice we are?

  • Jana V- The very hardest thing about owning a dog is... The day they pass away and you realize you have lost one of the best things ever brought into your life. Watching them get old and still doing they're best to love and confort you through they're pain. I have lost two dogs i have been very close to one just last year and yes to me losing my best friend is the very hardest thing about owning a dog. My Sadie is a Catahoula and 13 years old now, call me stupid but everynight when i tell her i love her and kiss her goodnight and make sure she is comfortable for the night I cry, because i know she is getting old and she will be leaving me. She is my best friend, and I know my other dog Litttle Bear named after his dad will morn with me, forever not just a few days but for the rest of both of our lives. I live in the country and my dog that passed away is buried in my back yard and so will my other dogs so I can still go visit them everyday. Losing your dog and best friend is definitley by far the hardest thing about owning a dog.


    These responses for cats are different from what you dog lovers wrote. Read: What is the worst thing about owning a cat? to see how cat lovers responded.

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