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Are you and your family considering getting a puppy or shelter dog? Getting a dog is extremely exciting, especially for the kiddies! But just remember that owning a dog is a long term commitment, as dogs live between 10 – 20 years. You must make sure that you and your family are ready for this commitment as your fur child will rely on everyone to take care of it.
Before going to the breeder or shelter, there is a list of things to consider, such as do you want a dog, getting your family ready, baby proofing your home. This article will take you through that list. You will know by the end of the article if you and your family are ready for a furry family member.
Before Getting A Dog
Lots of people get dogs out of impulse. A dog should never be brought home out of impulse. Yes, puppies are cute, and everyone loves them, but dogs are a huge responsibility, and not everyone is up to the task. People get caught up in the cuteness moment and bring a dog home, only to find they cannot take care of it, or they do not want the responsibilities that come with being a dog owner.
Do You Really Want A Dog?
As I said, a dog is a long term commitment. Being an owner is fun and rewarding, but they can also be expensive, dirty, noisy, energetic, and they tend to think they are in charge. You may love dogs, but looking after and playing with them is a different story.
By purchasing a dog, you automatically become a dog parent. If your child is misbehaving you wouldn’t give it away would you? Your puppy will grow up and become an adult that will take up a lot of your time and can be destructive.
Research, Research, Research
You should figure out what breed you want before getting a dog. If you have a family with children, then you will want to look into family dogs, like the Golden Retriever, or The Bernese Moutain Dog.
Do you want a puppy or an older dog? Puppies are prone to have accidents in the house while older dogs will have already been through training and be better behaved than a puppy.
More importantly, you need to choose the breed that will suit you and your family. Personality is an essential factor when selecting a dog. Don’t make a mistake and choose the dog based solely on looks. So, you have to research the breed before you go out and purchase. Here are a few articles that can give you some information on types of breeds.
So, if you want a dog that will just hang out and not need much exercise, then I would go for a lap dog like a Yorkie. If you are active and want a dog that is just as energetic as you are, then maybe a husky would be the right choice, but only if you live in a house as these dogs cannot be kept in an apartment or condo. Again, it all comes down to doing your research on the type of breed you want.
Puppies Vs. Shelter Dogs
Puppies are cute, fun, and full of energy. They also require a lot of attention and affection. Their socialization period (the first six months of their life) is critical as this is where they bond with their families and learn most of their training. If you do not feel that you or your family can put enough energy or training, then it is better to get an older dog from a shelter who will already have gone through their socialization period and training.
Shelter dogs may not be as demanding as a new puppy. Most older dogs are housetrained and are less energetic than a puppy. So if you are looking for a chill-out dog, then maybe an older shelter dog would be better. You will have to work harder on creating a bond with an older dog though, as they have already gone through their socialization period, but it is worth it!
Consider Adoption or Foster Care
If you are not sure if you are ready for a dog, visit a shelter, and see if they offer foster care before adopting a dog. This will help you determine if you are prepared to become a dog parent.
Interview Veterinarians Before Buying or Adopting A Dog
Before getting a dog, you should ask friends with pets for a veterinarian recommendation. Once you have a list of vets, look up reviews online and pick which one you would like to talk contact. A veterinarian is an excellent source of information to help you choose the best dog for your lifestyle.
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Getting Your Family Ready For A Dog
So you have chosen to be a dog parent. There are a few things to do at home to prepare the household for your puppy or shelter dog. Or instead, there are several things you need to do before getting a dog.
Baby-Proofing Your Home
Bringing a dog home is like bringing a child into your house. Dogs like to explore and eat anything they can get their paws on. So, you want to make sure things like cleaning chemicals, cords, plastics, certain plants, and medicines are not in the path of your new dog. You also want to make sure that stairs and porches are blocked off as you do not want any nasty spills.
There are quite a few plants, as mentioned, that could do some real damage to your dog. Farmer Jer has a whole list of common house plants you’ll need to keep out of your puppies reach, so make sure you check that list.
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It is a good idea to keep your dog in one place for a while until you get the entire house ready for your new family member. Your new member should not be left unsupervised for the first little while as it could get into trouble. It will make your life and the dog’s life more comfortable if you start training as soon as possible.
Regular Visits To The Vet
For the first while, you will want to make regular visits to your veterinarian. Before getting a dog, you should know it will cost you a bit in maintenance to take it to the vet regularly while it’s young. Your new dog will need to have all the necessary vaccinations to keep it from getting sick.
Once your dog has received all the required vaccines, you can start seeing the veterinarian once a year. I highly recommend that you do not wait a year for each check-up. The more often you go, the better the chances are that if there is something wrong, it will be detected sooner, and the appropriate actions can begin.
I have made it a habit to check Kiki (my fur baby) regularly, which ended up saving Kiki’s life. One day while doing my daily check-up, I noticed that she three bumps on her chest that were not there the day before. I made an appointment with her Veterinarian, and after a few tests, was advised by the doctor that she had two types of cancer in her breasts and that she would have to undergo a radical mastectomy to live.
The veterinarian said it was a good thing that I check Kiki regularly, and that it saved her life, as cancer spreads so quickly that a few more days and it would have been too late to save her.
I cannot express how important it is to check your pup regularly and to continue seeing the Vet more than once a year.
Decide on an Age and Breed Appropriate Food
You and your family like to eat healthily, right? Now you have to make sure that your dog is getting the right food. I would talk to your veterinarian about the best food for your breed. Yes, it may be more expensive, but you wouldn’t cheap out on a family member, right?
So don’t cheap out on your dog, who is, in fact, a family member. You can also research the best food but check with the vet to get the okay from them.
If you are bringing a puppy home, there is going to be an adjustment period. Just like a newborn baby, a puppy will cry at night, and you will have to check in on your pup from time to time during the night. It is not a good idea to take your dog to bed with you. If you do, then the dog will expect to sleep in your bedroom all the time.
During the day, you can let him/her discover other places in the house, supervised, of course. While your pup is getting familiar with the house, you will find out if you missed anything when you were preparing the home for the dog.
Training Your Furry Family Member
As mentioned before, the first six months of a dog’s life is its socialization period. So if you are bringing home a puppy, you should start the training right away. Dogs love to please, so make sure to reward when they do something right.
Puppies need to go to the bathroom every 20- 30 minutes after eating their meals. Bring your furry friend outside to the place that you want it to do its business. You should have a phrase like “pee time” or “poo time,” whatever you think is best.
The phrases I use for my pooches are “Do you have to go outside?” and once we are out there, “Go on,” and she does her business. You will figure out what phrase works best for you.
Remember the key is to praise your dog for doing its business in the right place.
Love Is All We Need
Your new canine friend will require lots of attention, affection, and love. You have to put aside at least half an hour a day for training, walks, and affection. If you do not put the time in for these things, then it will be that much harder to correct it later.
Patience is a virtue. You will need to have a lot of patience with a new puppy. There will be washroom accidents and maybe some chewing of items you would rather not have chewed! The puppy is new and does not know that these things can cause frustration, so you should never get angry at it. With lots of love and training, you will have a great companion. All the hard work put in will be worth it in the end.
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