February 23, 2018 © Hearts and Hounds Dog Training /
Puppies are adorable, and hard to resist. Advertisers use them to sell everything from toilet paper to beer to stereos. We have to “say hi” to every puppy we see, and they make us laugh with their awkward gait and wiggly rear ends. So how do you know when it’s the “right time” to bring a puppy into your life? This is an important question and it merits careful consideration. After all, dogs live on average 10 to 13 years (and often longer) and will be dependent on you for all of that time.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re ready for a puppy:
DO I/WE HAVE TIME FOR A PUPPY?
Puppies are like babies; they have biological, physical and emotional needs that we must commit to fulfilling if we are to provide the best care for them.
Puppies need to eliminate many times a day: after sleeping, after playing, after eating, when first let out of their confinement area, before bed, often during the night, and whenever “nature calls.” Getting it right from the very start and preventing accidents as much as possible are key to successful housetraining. While you may set up an indoor potty area at the beginning for when she cannot be supervised, you (or someone) will still have to take your puppy outside as often as possible for her to learn that she is supposed to potty outdoors. The good news: there will be lots of opportunities to practise!
Young puppies need a lot of sleep, but they also need gentle exercise for their little growing bodies and brains several times a day. A combination of short-distance “walks” where they get to sniff and explore their environment, supervised play with an appropriate dog or puppy, play with humans, and supervised self-directed play provides a variety of experiences for your pup.
It is critical that you dedicate time to properly socializing your puppy by the time she is twelve to sixteen weeks old. The time and effort you devote to exposing her in a positive way to as many novel items, people, and experiences as possible will affect her for the rest of her life.
Puppies come to us behaving like, well, puppies! They bark, dig, chew, jump up, help themselves to food within their reach, among other things that (most!) people don’t appreciate. It is up to us to teach these little creatures how to fit into our human-centric world.
Can you fit all of the above in with your work, family, and social commitments?
CAN I/WE AFFORD A PUPPY?
Along with the time commitment, a puppy is a financial commitment that will last on average 10 to 13 years. Here are some of the costs you’ll need to consider:
Cost of the puppy
Cost to travel
• Surcharge at hotels
• Pet sitter
IS MY PERSONAL SITUATION CONDUCIVE TO HAVING A PUPPY?
We all go through various stages in our lives. Some transitions can be anticipated while others come out of the blue. Because a puppy is a long-term commitment and we can’t know exactly what the future has in store for us, the best we can do is assess our current situation.
If you currently have a set schedule, you’ll have to rearrange it to accommodate your puppy’s needs. If you’re used to going out a lot, you’ll likely have to curtail that for awhile, particularly at the beginning while you’re doing housetraining and feeding your puppy three times a day. After that, you may need to modify your activities to more pet-friendly ones. Alternatively, you can arrange for someone else to help, but that can cost money, and you’ll want to choose someone you know you can trust with your fur-baby.
You may not be able to stay out as late because you have to get up early with the dog. If your dog gets sick, you might have to cancel plans to stay home and look after her. You also might not be able to see certain friends as much because they’re afraid of or allergic to dogs.
Maybe you haven’t settled down with someone yet, or you end up with someone different down the road who doesn’t love dogs like you do or is allergic. What happens then? (I know what I’d do, but not everyone is as crazy about their dogs as I am!)
Having a dog will also influence your vacation plans. If you’d like to take your dog with you, you’ll need to consider your mode of travel, accommodation, and types of activities that will be appropriate for your four-legged travelling companion. If your plans do not include your dog, you’ll have to arrange for someone else to care for her in your absence. There are more alternatives these days than just a boarding kennel; your choice should be based on what you think best suits your dog and is within your budget.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find pet-friendly accommodation whether you are renting or trying to buy a home. People are having to make heartwrenching decisions to give up their beloved pets because they have to move and can’t find a place that allows pets. Or, the landlord or strata impose restrictions on the type and/or size of pet. No one knows what the future holds for us, but if a move could be in your future, you need to be aware of the possible challenge you may face in being able to bring your dog.
The bottom line is that getting a puppy is a big commitment and one that will last for, hopefully, at least ten years. Many things can change in that time, but the one constant will be your dog’s dependence on you. Unlike a child, she will not grow up, become independent and “leave the nest.” Her needs, too, will change throughout her life, often requiring different levels of care from you. Are you prepared for that responsibility? If so, congratulations! Get ready to have the time of your life!
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