Is a Puppy Right For Your Family?

children, mother with puppy

I am the first to admit that a cute, roly-poly puppy is almost impossible to resist! When those cute eyes stare up at you and you are bathed in kisses that have the wonderful aroma of puppy breath, who can say no? Unfortunately, too many people say yes to a puppy with their heart but don’t think about what the decision really involves.

Puppies are hard work! They are equal to having a newborn baby the first few months you have them. Just like with human babies, some are easy, and others are beyond challenging. As a puppy goes from newborn to an adult in 12-24 months, it can be compared to a child growing from birth to 18 years old! This reality cannot be taken lightly. Because they develop so quickly, the first 6 months are very important. An un-socialized puppy is destined to have behavioral issues as an adult.

Factors to Consider Before Getting a Puppy

It is important to carefully think about getting a new pet; it should not be an impulsive decision.

  • Lifestyle – The first thing to consider is your lifestyle. If your life is already chaotic and busy before a puppy, when are you going to have the time and patience to work with the puppy?
  • Other Family Dogs – If you already have a dog, you must consider if the dogs will get along. Will you have time for two? Plus, getting an additional dog doubles all your dog expenses (vet bills, grooming, boarding, training classes.)
  • Your Children – If you have children, it is important to seriously consider if your children can be around the puppy safely. If you are away from your home a lot, who is going to house train the puppy?

Choosing The Right Puppy for Your Family

If you know you are ready for a puppy and that your family is able to give that puppy a good home, then you want to be sure you get the right puppy. Every puppy has its own unique personality, just like humans. Personality is determined by breed, genetics (parent’s demeanor) and the puppy’s socialization experience. If you are a very mellow house, you do not want to get a high-energy puppy. If you plan to compete in agility, you will want a puppy with more drive. This is really important because the main reason I see puppies needing to be rehomed is a human-puppy match that did not work.

Start Puppy Training Immediately

To help your puppy become a healthy, well-balanced dog, be sure you begin to socialize and train him immediately. Puppies should be meeting new people and see new objects every day. Allowed them to play with healthy, vaccinated dogs (that get along with other dogs well) and take them to new places. Do not visit dog parks or other places where unvaccinated dogs may have been until your puppy is fully vaccinated. It is important to start the socialization process before your puppy’s vaccines are complete. Typically, vaccines are complete around 4-6 months. But if you wait that long, your dog will be out of the “prime” socialization period and be entering it’s first “fear period”. Check out my past blog on socialization to learn more about these issues.

Puppies take time and patience. With love, guidance, and teaching you can have a wonderful dog but you must do the work. Just like trying to lose weight, there is no “easy” way to train a puppy.  However, if you do the work, you will be rewarded!