Are you thinking about getting your first pet? Are you wondering what to consider before bringing that adorable little furry ball of kisses and wagging tail home?
My daughter loves dogs. She always has. She has been married now for several years and her two daughters also love dogs. Her husband has given the green light for a family dog and they are all looking forward to having a dog baby. So, I have been thinking about ways to help her be ready for her new baby. This article is for her and any other person thinking about adding a new pet to their family.
Here are a few things to consider BEFORE you start looking at shelters or online at places like www.petfinder.com. Please rescue your pet as a first choice. There are so many pets looking for a family. Many are purebred pups that turned out to be too much work for their families. Many have been abused and neglected by people that had no idea what was involved with raising a puppy. Mixed breeds can also make for some pretty awesome family pets. They are often hardier than purebred dogs because inbreeding among purebred dogs can increase the likelihood of many health problems. Okay, now that I have that out of the way, I can get off of my soapbox and get back to some other considerations to make before bringing that adorable puppy home:
- How much room do you have? Some dogs need a lot more space than others do . Research breeds and learn a little about general dispositions of breeds. All dogs are different but the breed does matter.
- How much time do you have to train a pet? A puppy will need a lot of attention. It will not necessarily sleep through the night. It is a baby. It is very similar to bringing a bay home. They are adorable — but a lot of work too.
- How old are your kids? Kids and pets are wonderful together if properly trained and introduced.
- How often is someone home? It is not fair to bring a dog home that will be alone all day. Bored dogs are destructive dogs.
- Are you physically strong enough to manage and exercise your pet when it is full grown? Smaller pets are easier to manage if you are older, less active, or have a disability that would affect the management and care of a pet.
- Will you be able to keep the pet for the rest of its life? 5–20 years? A pet deserves to be kept for its entire life. I am not bashing anyone that has ever re-homed a pet. I have been in a situation where I have re-homed a pet. It was not planned and it broke my heart. I still feel guilty about it — even though my pet went to a much better home than I could provide at the time.
- Can you afford a pet? Vet bills, food, grooming, etc. are not cheap. Can you budget for all of these items?
- What do you want to be able to do with your pet? Again, be realistic about your lifestyle goals for your new pet. A chihuahua may not make a great running buddy. It makes a great couch buddy though. Most border collies don’t want to lie around watching tv all day either. They do make great hiking buddies though. Check out different breeds to know their tendencies.
Okay, now that you have figured out that you are really ready for a dog and you are ready to find your new family member, what do you need to be ready?
- Is the puppy old enough? Has the puppy had a chance to be with it’s mother and litter mates for at least 8 weeks? This is the law in many US states. There are many reasons that puppies need to stay with mama for at least 8 weeks in addition to just the health reasons. Critical socialization occurs with mom and the litter. Do not take a puppy any sooner.
- Bedding should be comfortable and fairly inexpensive at this point. Puppies and fearful older dogs have a high likelihood of chewing up whatever bedding you provide. This is not the time to spend $100 on a designer dog bed. A simple blanket will do for now.
- Crate — I highly recommend having a crate for your new dog for their safety as well as the safety of your home. New puppies and newly rescued dogs can be very chewy. For tips on crate training, read my article on crates.
- Food — There is just as much debate about dog food as there is about people food. www.dogfoodadvisor.com is a great objective website that compares all the major brands of food. Many people are huge advocates of raw feeding. It can be a great option with one caution. If you have anyone in the family with a compromised immune system (babies, elderly, sick), I do not recommend raw because if the increased chance of salmonella or Ecoli. Therapy dogs are not allowed to be raw fed for this reason. A dog that is raw fed can spread bacteria with their kisses.
- Food and water bowls — Ideally durable bowls that can’t be destroyed easily and are dishwasher-safe.
- Collar and leash — You won’t get far without these. A flat collar is a good choice for a puppy. Puppies will outgrow them quickly. Leashes can be chewed through in about a minute if you don’t monitor a new puppy. Have a few — just in case. I always keep a spare collar and leash that I have picked up at a dollar store (In my doggy first aid backpack) in my car. You never know when you will need a new one. Best to be prepared.
- Clicker if you plan to use clicker training. I like them because they consistently mark the desired behavior at the perfect time. Think of it like taking a mental picture for your dog of the exact behavior that you desire. Many people also use a “yes” instead of a clicker. I have done that when I don’t have a clicker handy.
- Treat bag and treats — I like ones that have holders for poop bags and magnetic closures at the top. A waist belt to secure the bag will drop less than one that clips onto a waistband.
- Vet address -The location of the nearest emergency Vet is something that you need before you need it. Plus puppies need a lot of shots the first few months. Check with your vet to see what is recommended in your area.
- Poop bags — Lots and lots of these little bags. You can always find them at dollar stores. It is the law to pick up after your pet in most US States nowadays. You do get used to it
- Patience -lots and lots of patience. You could get really really lucky and get a dog that is a breeze to train, doesn’t chew anything up, and never causes trouble. The chance of that is about as likely as finding a unicorn in your backyard though. It is going to take longer than you think. Be consistent and patient. Having a dog is one of the best things around in my opinion.
Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.