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Puppy Series – Choosing the Right Dog
My family and I will be welcoming a new addition to our home next week; a puppy! It has been almost nine years since I’ve had a puppy, so I’ve been busy refreshing my memory on all that comes along with raising one. As we experience life with our new pup, I will be posting information on important issues that pertain to raising a healthy, happy dog.
Today’s post is about some of the important considerations to take into account when choosing a new dog.
So you’ve decided that you want a new dog? Ask yourself why you want one. Is it for companionship for yourself, or for your kids? Or maybe you already have a dog and you think he needs a friend? Do you want a dog for protection?
Do you want a puppy, or are you willing to adopt an older dog? Dogs of all ages come with their own unique set of challenges.
Really imagine what life with a new dog would be like:
- If you get a puppy, you will be responsible for potty-training (and cleaning up all the accidents in the house). Puppies have tiny bladders, and need to urinate often; meaning trips outside will be required frequently, even in the middle of the night in the rain.
- Behavior training: will you take your dog to obedience classes? Have you looked into cost to make sure they will fit into your budget? If you decide to train the dog yourself, are you confident that you will be consistent with your training, and that all other humans in the house will be as well? Consistency in training is very important. If you want to teach your dog to stay off the couch, it won’t work if someone else allows the dog up there when you’re not looking!
- Healthcare: do you already have a veterinarian that you use? If not, start asking friends or family members who they recommend in your area. Puppies will initially need to have a series of vaccinations and de-worming treatments, I recommend that you find out before getting a new dog how much vet visits may cost. And remember, if you get a dog that isn’t already spayed or neutered, that’s an additional cost you will need to factor in. Other considerations: microchipping, parasite prevention (fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc.), and grooming costs. Food is a big factor. You want to feed a high quality dog food, and if you get a large breed dog that as an adult will require several cups of food a day, that can be expensive.
- Consider your lifestyle: Are you active outdoors? Can the dog come along with you on hikes, runs, trips to the lake? If you don’t have a yard, are you willing to walk your dog two or three times a day? Are you a homebody? Or do you travel a lot? You’ll want to pick a dog whose personality and energy level matches your own. It’s probably best that you don’t get a herding dog, like a border collie, if you live in an apartment, and don’t get a basset hound if you want a dog to go on trail runs with you. Research dog breeds so you have a good idea about the temperament, size, and physical requirements of each one. Getting a mixed breed dog can make your choice a little more challenging, but this is where adoption coordinators will help you. If adopting from a rescue or shelter, be very honest with the agency about your lifestyle, other pets you have, and how you would like a new dog to fit into your life. They will do their best to help you find the right match.
- Do you already have other animals? How may they react to a new furry family member? I’ve seen quite a few little kittens and puppies who got chomped on by an adult dog who just wanted to play (and by ones who definitely weren’t playing). Take your current pet’s temperament into consideration. **Never leave a new puppy/dog alone with your current pet. They need to be supervised until they’re comfortable with one another, and you’re confident that they will get along. This may take several days or more for some dogs.
If you’re interested in a purebred, talk to your veterinarian or an obedience trainer for recommendations on dog breeders. Check online for any information and reviews you can find about the breeder. You can also find purebred dogs at the animal shelter, and through rescue groups. And there is certainly nothing wrong with a mixed-breed! My previous dog was a rottweiler-husky mix, a beautiful combination both physically and in temperament.
Time, space, cost, poop….all things to consider before bringing any new animal home with you. The decision to get a new pet shouldn’t be taken lightly. Too many people bring a new dog home on a whim, only to realize there were many things they should have considered beforehand. You will be the sole caretaker of another life. Are you ready for that responsibility?