Getting a New Puppy/Dog
Getting a new puppy/dog is one of life’s more challenging experiences.
Why, do I say challenging? Simply because in the world of puppies and dogs, everyone is so cute, making the right decision is a challenge.
If this is your first dog or your twentieth there are many things to take under consideration.
Having a pet requires commitment. A dog’s lifespan is usually 12 to 15 years. Are you willing to commit that much time to a pet?
Cute puppies can grow into “not so cute” dogs. Are you willing to accept that fact and remain loyal to your pet?
Animal shelters are filled with dogs that did not turn out the way their masters thought they would.
If you are a person that thinks a dog is a disposable item, please don’t adopt one.
Getting a puppy or dog is serious business and should not be a “spur of the moment” or “impulse” decision.
When considering a dog as a pet, there are many things you need to think about. One of the first things is your lifestyle. Does your manner of living give you time to take proper care of a puppy/dog?
Animals take time, need room, cost money, need exercise, and all animals need love and attention. Can you fill all these needs?
Do you travel or take “spur of the moment” vacations? If you do, can you find a reliable pet sitter?
Puppies require lots of time and training. Do you have time to spare?
Both puppies and dogs require exercise. Long walks at least twice a day, are you up for that? Rain or shine, sleet or snow, like the postman, dogs need to go out in the weather.
Are you on a tight budget? Puppies and dogs require vet visits, food and toys. Can your budget handle the necessary expenses along with possible emergency vet visits?
Are you a neat and tidy person? Would dog hair and dog clutter upset you?
Are you patient and understanding? Do you have the patience to train a puppy? Would puppy accidents have you in a dither?
Take some time to consider all these things and then take some more time to reconsider them once again.
As I have said many times, when it comes to adopting a cat or dog you need to consider the commitment, just as you would a marriage contract. It should be a “till death you do part” type of an arrangement and not one that means “until I get tired of you.”
Now that we have covered some of the essentials that you should have thought about, let’s start thinking about that puppy or dog you are going to get.
Hopefully, you have thought about what kind of dog you want, big or little, male or female, purebred or mixed breed.
Now, where do you find this bundle of fluff?
Your area animal shelter usually has a sufficient supply of puppies and dogs.
Sometimes your neighbor will have a litter of puppies.
If a purebred is what you are looking for, find a reputable breeder that raises the dog you are looking for.
Do not buy a puppy from a pet store. Most pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills and you really don’t know what you are buying.
Where ever you look plan on spending time at the location, get to see your puppy or dog in its own environment, watch it play and relate to you and to others including its litter mates.
Do not go looking for a puppy or dog with a preconceived notion that you have to have a certain look or sex because sometimes “fate” steps in.
If you are looking for a dog at the animal shelter here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you walk past the dogs.
The first bit of advice is to take everything you hear about a dog with a grain of salt. The previous owner more than likely will not give the correct information of why they are surrendering the dog and shelter workers only know what they observe.
As you walk down the kennels watch how the dogs approach you. If a dog is overly friendly, that is not necessarily a good choice as it might want attention 24/7 and in a normal life that is not at all possible.
A shy or fearful dog is also not a good choice. If a dog is cowering in a corner, won’t look at you and seems submissive pass on that one, too.
You may feel sorry for it and want to make it happy and possibly you could, but you are taking a chance that may not work out.
An aggressive dog that is barking and jumping at the fence with a not so friendly bark or a growl should be avoided, too
What you are really looking for is the dog that comes up to the fence, seems relaxed and interested and will look at you. That dog is worth some of your time.
Shelters have rooms where you can visit with the dogs of your choice in order to get a chance to see them in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Have the shelter worker put the dog on a leash and walk with you to the visiting room. Observe the dog’s behavior on the leash. Naturally, the dog will be a bit excited and you need to take that into consideration.
If at all possible have the shelter worker stay with you for a few minutes so you can see how the dog behaves with other people around, then spend some alone time.
Spend some time not paying attention to the dog and see what its reaction is. Will it sit quietly or is it begging for attention?
Take your time in making a decision and actually interview several dogs. Remember, you are making a commitment here and you need to make certain it is the right one, so take your time.
Do not do this on a hurried lunch hour or at a time when you have another appointment in an hour or so.
If you are doing the breeder route, here too, you need to take your time. Play with all the puppies and then single out two or three and spend some time with each one.
Check out the kennel where the puppies are. Is it clean? Ask to see the mother or father or both if possible. Observe their behavior.
Ask the breeder if the puppies have seen a vet and if they have started their puppy shots.
My ideas on choosing a puppy/dog may seem like a lot of work and I admit it is, but you are talking years of companionship here. Like a marriage you want to spend your time with someone you can love and enjoy being with, this is not a “fly by night” relationship.
Once you have made your mind up that you are going to get a puppy/dog, one of the first things you should do is go veterinarian shopping.
Why? The answer is simple; your vet is going to be an important part of your life for a long time.
It is important to find a vet that has a personality that meshes with yours, has office hours that can accommodate your schedule, has a clean clinic and has a boarding facility (should you ever need one.)
Puppies need to be started on their puppy shots right away, if they haven’t been started.
If you are getting an older dog it is a good idea to start out by getting your dog a complete checkup. This way you will know that your dog is healthy and the vet can determine if there are any problems that you need to be concerned with.
In another article I will discuss the reasons for the puppy shots and some of the common health problems puppies/dogs have.
Hopefully, while you were in the thinking and planning mode, you also thought about what you would need for your new pet.
If you are getting a puppy one of the most useful things you can purchase (or borrow) is a crate. A crate is as useful in raising a puppy as sliced bread is to humans.
Dogs are animals that like “den living.”
A crate will provide a safe place for your puppy to be in while you are at work or out. It is a useful tool when you are “potty training” your puppy.
I will discuss the “wonderful world of house breaking” in another article.
For now it is important that the puppy has a safe haven to stay in while you are away. Make certain you have considered your puppy’s growth factor when you purchased the crate, as the crate will serve you for the lifetime of your dog.
Keep in mind puppies usually need to go to the bathroom every few hours and they do not have any control over their bowels or urine needs until they are much older.
You also will need food and water dishes, leash and collar and “toys,” lots and lots of chew toys for all those new teeth that are soon to come in.
When you pick up your puppy from the breeder, shelter or a neighbor be certain to find out what they were feeding the puppy, as it is a good idea to keep the little person on the same diet and schedule.
Puppies need to be fed every few hours as they have small tummies and can not hold a lot at one time. It is a good idea to take the puppy outside about 15 to 20 minutes after it has eaten to go potty.
If you are lucky enough to have a yard for the puppy to play in, have it fenced in before you bring the puppy/dog home. It is my feeling that it is better the puppy or dog does not know that there is a world beyond the boundaries of its yard (except for walks, of course.)
Having a puppy/dog is not only a responsibility; it is one of connection and communication.
Granted some people get an animal and literally co-exist with it, there is no person to animal connection, no real love. No real relationship, just a “I’ll feed you and you be a good dog existence."
In order to be a good pet parent you have to learn to anticipate your puppy/dog’s needs. If you have never had a pet before it will take a few weeks to a few months before the both of you are comfortable together. The puppy is just learning about the world around it and you as “the new guy on the block” are learning about dogs.
It is important that you take the “leader” role, you are the “parent” and your puppy is in a sense the “child.”
Just as human babies look to their parents for care and guidance, so will your puppy.
Dogs are social animals, in the wild they live in packs; there is always a leader. In the pack created by you/your family and the puppy, you are the leader of the pack and the puppy will follow your lead.
In order to train your puppy so that it will grow up into the kind of dog your want in your life there has to be a bond or connection. Granted people can train a dog through fear, but that is not a happy owner or a happy pet and the end result can be disastrous.
Having a dog can bring great joy to your life and that of your family. By being sensitive to your dog’s needs and learning from the clues it gives you, while maintaining your leadership capacity, the training process will happen more easily.
By building trust in each other along with bonding and communication, your dog will willingly take your commands and will do its best to obey you.
Rome was not built in a day and a well-trained puppy/dog does not happen over night, it will take time and patience from both of you.
If at this point you are still confused and need some help in deciding what breed or what mixed breed you should have in your life see
(A Dog to Fit Your Lifestyle.)
In the very near future I will have articles on “The Wonderful World of Housebreaking,” “What Should I Feed My Puppy/Dog,” and “Solving Doggie Problems.”
Good luck with your puppy/dog, it is a member of your family, treat it with love and kindness.