It’s a new year and an opportunity to get the dog you always wanted. Very exciting! But…a few things to think about before you make the leap into dog ownership. You have some decisions to make BEFORE you get a dog. I mean fully commit. Take some time to think about the points below.
- If you are not willing to take care of a dog for its entire life…don’t get a dog. Dogs are truly social beings and will give their all to you. If you can not or will not do the same…dog ownership is not for you. A dog will make a lifetime commitment to you and you need to be able to do the same for your dog. Taking care of a dog means regular health checkups with a veterinarian at least once a year and following all of the recommended health treatments. Oh…by the way…. you should be willing to learn about a dog’s dental care. Healthy teeth mean a heathy dog!
- If you are not willing to take the time to socialize your dog…don’t get a dog. Dogs are social beings and need to be comfortable around other dogs and other people. The only way to socialize a dog is to take them out at an early age and introduce them to other dogs and people. The best time to socialize a dog is when they are young. Most reputable breeders will not let you take a puppy home until it is eight weeks old. The first eight weeks should be spent with mom and litter mates, so they can learn to interact with each other. Puppy play with littermates is a teaching time for a puppy to learn how to send and receive dog signals, determine dominance respect and how to keep from biting. When you get a puppy at this point, you are now going to introduce them to new sights, sounds, places, and people.
- If you are not willing to take the time for proper obedience training…don’t get a dog. Obedience training will make you and your dog a happy family. Obedience training will teach you and your dog effective means and ways to keep you both safe, healthy and happy. A trained dog is a joy to watch. Dog obedience training is best with a professional dog trainer (you can find them in community classes or by calling the humane society). My personal preference is a professional dog trainer that uses a positive reinforcement training system and NOT a trainer that uses “alpha dog” based training. I think a trainer that uses reinforcement-based training produces a happier dog that is willing to do and perform because they are having fun. A trainer that uses “alpha dog” training methods will also train a dog…but I am not convinced you will like what you get. Take the time to explore all the diverse types of training that are offered. Make your decision on your personal ethical beliefs and what is best for your specific breed of dog. At the very least…you dog should be trained for the basic sit, stay, down, heel and recall commands.
- If you are not willing to take care of a dog for its entire life…don’t get a dog. Did I mention this? I sure did…but this is really important!
What about a senior dog?
Senior dogs can be a joy to have. They are generally quieter and require less exercise and often more serene. An elderly dog is usually trained and knows how to behave. A senior dog is often more affectionate. A senior dog becomes available for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with dog behavior. Usually…they are given up because of human family issues (divorce is but one example). Not sure about getting a senior dog? I suggest you become a foster dog parent for dogs waiting on adoption. Bring a dog into your home so you can be a foster parent until they find their forever home. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Remember…our tips are informational only, and your health care veterinarian is the best source of medical and health information for your dog. Always…always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns or issues about your dog’s health. Your furry friend deserves no less from you. Always consult your veterinarian whenever you suspect a health issue with your dog. Do the right thing!