At some point or another, almost everyone thinks about getting a puppy.
How can you not love those playful balls of fur clumsily finding their way into mischief? At any given time their antics can be worthy of a YouTube video. And then there is their cuddling and puppy breath that steals the hearts of the ladies. How could you not want a puppy?
Being as realistic as possible, we have compiled a short list of things that potential puppy owners need to consider. We hope that this helps to enlighten you on what to expect, but at the same time not turn you away from bringing “man’s best friend” into your home.
1. NEVER get a PUPPY younger than 8 weeks old. They need to remain with the litter until that age to develop proper behavioral and socialization skills. REMEMBER OBEDIENCE COMES WITH PATIENCE AND TRAINING. PUPPIES DO NOT COME TRAINED.
2. NEVER BUY A PUPPY just for color, looks or fur type alone – THIS IS NO INDICATION OF A DOGS TEMPERAMENT! Puppies will change in appearance as they grow and develop.
3. Consider your lifestyle – Different breeds do better in different environments, so picking the right one is important to having a great experience with your new pet. Dogs are not for everyone.
4. Are you out more than 8 hours a day? Puppies can typically “hold it” for about as many hours as they are months old. With proper training, somewhere between 6-8 months is when they are being able to “hold it” for 8 hours.
5. Consider your energy requirements, size, and grooming needs of the breed in which you are interested. Not only is there time and financial considerations, but also the well being and behavior of your dog. An energetic breed typically does not do well in an apartment setting where exercise is limited.
6. Don’t just buy because someone says this is the dog for you. Don’t trust the “What dog is right for me” quizzes that you find on line. They may be close, but nothing replaces personal reading and research. One wrong click will skew the results.
7. Read all you can about the breeds you are considering. There is a lot of information on the web and in books about different dog breeds by self proclaimed experts. Books are typically influenced by the writer (just like blogs), and only you can make an intelligent decision for youself. It pays to be a little skeptical and review trusted sources.
8. Think hard before buying a Toy Breed if you have small children. Not only are small breeds fragile and more apt to get hurt, but they can be “nippy”. A child’s bad experience with a dog will result in distrust and either the child or dog getting hurt. Most shelters will only re-home toy/small breed if the children are 10 or older.
9. Think long and hard before buying a puppy for a Christmas, birthday or other special day. It should be a well thought out decision because of the long term commitment that it takes on everyone’s part.
10 . Before buying, check out where it is coming from. Know that each environment has its positives and negatives. Reputable breeders take pride and care not only in the bloodlines and health, but often start training. Back Yard breeders do not take the same care, often inbreeding their stock and providing just minimal health care. Although a pet store may guarantee their pets, they are more apt to be left in crates for extended periods of time. This creates additional challenges in housebreaking a pet. Rescue leagues and Shelters are ran by people that care about the animals and are typically a great source for getting pets. Most will work with the dog to train or “rehabilitate” before “re-homing”.
11. Ask yourself if you willing to give up holidays and time off to care and train and socialize your pup until its old enough to stay home on its own. And even then, someone needs to come by to check on it, feed and water and walk it and play with it. Or will you make travel arrangements that allow you to take the pet with you? The alternative is to place the animal in a kennel while you are travel out of town.
12. If a puppy does not teethe on your possessions, it will teethe on you and your children. Rescuers often get calls from panicked parents sure their dog is about to seriously injure their children. It usually turns out the puppy is just doing what puppies do, i.e., mouth or nip. A growing puppy is going to put anything and everything in their mouth. It must be taught bite inhibition. As the puppy grows, the puppy’s jaws become stronger and its teeth are replaced by its adult teeth. The mouthing and nipping it did as a puppy now can have serious consequences. Far better to get an adult dog 2 years plus that has “been there, done that, moved on.”
13. Never buy a puppy without your parent’s permission. Your parents may leave both YOU and the PUPPY at the animal shelter. Just remember, puppies are not “disposable”. Once you make a decision to get one, it should be for life.