The holidays are here and everyone is making a list. I know I am.
Does your list include asking the man in red for a puppy? Maybe for you or possibly for someone else, like your children? Then you may want to make an additional list that includes the what, when, how, where and why.
Getting a new puppy is a big responsibility and the work of owning a puppy begins right after you see that cute face and fall in love. In respecting the importance of this decision I listed some things that you’ll want to consider before bringing home puppy.
Let me also say that I am not discouraging you from getting a dog. I have one and think that they are an amazing addition to your life. I just want you to think about what you are doing before you do it. Getting a dog is a HUGE responsibility that will take up your time and require you to put in a lot of effort. I want getting a dog to be a positive experience rather than a nightmare.
Having gotten that out of the way, let’s get that list of yours moving so that we can get you the perfect match for your family.
First, take a look at your lifestyle. How much time do you actually have to spend with a dog? And how much work are you willing to put into getting your pup to be the well behaved adult dog that we all want? Certain breeds need more exercise than others BUT they all need exercise. Are you willing to put in that extra time, morning, noon and night? (especially during house training) Knowing this will help you to decide what breeds to look at and whether or not getting a dog is actually the best choice for you and your family.
The first few months of yours and your puppy’s life together will consist of house training. This will include waking up early and at odd hours of the night to take your pooch out so that they learn where their bathroom is. If you have children you will remember this as the time when your baby first came home. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, say hello to sleep deprived nights!
Teaching your puppy manners and house rules will begin as soon as you bring them home. So, who’s going to be training who? Are you going to be training your puppy or will they be training you? Your dog will be learning ALL the time so this is an important question and if you don’t take the time to think about just this, you are planning for a disaster. In fact, not having a plan or being prepared for a puppy is the main reason that Christmas puppies end up in shelters come summer time.
Will you crate train? Will you be able to come home at lunch to take the puppy out for a potty break? If not you will have to hire a pet sitter. Do you have any recommendations? Will you be able to afford the cost of getting started? There are also multiple Veterinary visits in the very beginning so think about those costs too.
Please, please, please don’t pick a breed based on someone else’s recommendation. We all love our dogs and we can be very loyal to a specific breed, but I cannot tell you how many times people have said to me that they got a Labrador or a Golden Retriever (Border Collie, etc. the list goes on and on) because a friend told them how great it was! What I hear when people call me is how much work the dog is and that they can’t stop them from jumping on and knocking down, or herding, the kids.
Are these great breeds? Yes, BUT the early years can be extremely challenging if you are not prepared. These are the dogs (or dogs about the same size) that usually end up in a shelter once they are an out of control 50lb. dog rather than a cute fluffy 12lb. puppy.
I cannot express how important it is to THINK before you BUY. And being prepared for what to expect and how to proceed will give you the tools you need to have a success rather than a dismal failure. We all loved ‘Marley and Me’ but, trust me, living in that situation is not fun. I should know – I did it!
If you’d like to read about it check out my previous blog post, ” How did you get into training?”. You can learn all about my rocky start with my dog, Mattie. I almost returned him because I was not prepared. It was one of the worst predicaments to be in and if I can help you avoid that then my mission is complete.
One of the services I provide is helping people just like you to find their forever pup. You can get more information about this service on my website All Star Paws. If you have any questions or need help please don’t hesitate to at: www.allstarpaws.com/contactus.html.
Wishing you a successful and happy pitter patter of paws in your home!