Thinking about getting a dog?
Making the decision to get your first puppy is a big deal, but it’s one worth making as it can turn out to be one of the best decisions you ever make. Doing some homework before you choose your furry friend can save you more than a few headaches in the future. A few things you should consider include puppy proofing, choosing the right breed for your lifestyle, evaluating how much time you have to spend with your pup, house and obedience training, diet, choosing a vet, and having a plan for who will watch your pooch if you are out of town.
Just like getting your house ready for the arrival of a toddler, puppy proofing is extremely important. Not only is upsetting when a dog chews one of your prized posessions, but lots of household items can be very dangerous for curious pups. Make sure shoes aren’t left out, ‘people’ food isn’t accesible, cords are tucked away, and trash and recycling are securing stored.
Choosing The Right Breed
There are a multitude of dog breeds to choose from, and a lot of people are attracted to certain breeds based on looks. When choosing your dog, looks aren’t everything; make sure you do some research on the activity level, grooming requirements, and potential health concerns of the breeds that interest you. If you are very active, choose an active breed that will love running and going to the park with you on a daily basis. To the contrary, if you are more of a couch potato, choose a dog that only requires short walks. With that said, getting an active dog is a great way to keep yourself motivated and get yourself into a healthier and fitter physique.
Be sure to ask yourself this important question as well: do have enough time to fairly share your life with a dog? If live alone, and work 12 hr days, it’s probably not the right time for you to get a dog. Remember, bored dogs make bad decisions if left cooped up in your house unsupervised.
Training your dog is important, not only for his safety, but also for the health of your relationship. You need to know that if you encounter a dangerous situation with your pooch, they while have a strong training bond with you and will follow your commands, even in a stressful or frenzied atmosphere. Dogs came from wolves, and still adhere to the pack structure of their ancestors, so it is very important to them to know where they stand. You need to be the Alpha from the beginning. There is a difference between being firm and being mean or abusive. Be a firm, yet gentle leader and avoid common training misconceptions. Don’t yell at your dog when he is barking. In his mind, you are joining him in the bark fest. Just as you would with a loud or upset person, stay calm and they will come back down to your level. Never rub a dogs snout in a mess they have made. They can’t make the cognitive leap that you are upset with them for pooping on the floor. They just know you are upset, and may become fearful of you. Reward good behavior, and you will get more good behavior.
Some might want to consider crate training as a way to help their dog feel secure, and keep them safe. Personally, I don’t crate train my dogs…I consider leash training far more important. When you take your dog its’ daily walk(s), which you should definitely be doing, make sure you’re walking your dog and he’s not walking you. Keep him at your side or slightly behind you…just don’t let him get in-front of you and start to drag you. As aforementioned, dogs typically adhere to the pack mentality…so if he’s leading you, he’s asserting himself as the head of the pack; you need to be the head of the pack or all sorts of behavioral mishaps are bound to occur.
Keeping your Dog Healthy
Choose a reputable vet for routine exams, vaccines, and to have on speed dial in case of emergency. Do your research before just arbitrarily choosing the one closest to you. Obviously, you should do your due diligence online…but one of the better ways to find a great vet is to simply ask around. Talk to your friends, family or co-workers who have dogs about their vet and whether or not they’d recommend them.
One final basic consideration when getting your dog is to ensure you have someone, or somewhere (there are facilities ranging in scale and expense) lined up to take care of your pooch if you need to go out-of-town for a period of time longer than a day. This will be essential to maintaining some level of freedom for yourself without endangering your dog’s life and well-being.
Having a dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences, and with the right research and planning, you and your dog can have a happy and healthy life together.