Anytime I counsel a client about whether they should get a puppy or rescue an adult dog, I always compare the puppy to a newborn. This clear comparison helps people realize how much work a puppy actually is and can help them determine what is best for their lifestyle.
As with a new born human, a puppy will wake up in the middle of the night, will need to be potty trained, will need some kind of care (feeding, cleaning, playing, etc.) every 2-3 hours, will need to be taught how to behave in a variety of situations, and may have a temper tantrum from time to time (often called the “witching hour” by my clients). Puppies also have their own unique personality, just like humans, therefore, as the puppy grows into an adult, they may not be interested in the activities you had planned for them. For example, you may adopt a puppy with the hopes that it will become a therapy dog but as your puppy grows, you find that he is afraid of strangers. Or maybe you adopt a puppy with the hopes of doing dog agility but your puppy grows into a couch potato. Just like we cannot determine what career, sport or hobbies our newborn children will have, we cannot determine what our new puppies will prefer either.
One benefit to having a puppy over a new born child is that you can, AND SHOULD, leave your puppy home alone for a period of time every day. This is not a problem I usually see with working individuals; however, it is very common for people who are retired, homeschool, work from home or people who don’t leave their house on a daily basis. Puppies need to learn how to be left home alone and need to learn how to entertain themselves. When puppies do not learn how to entertain themselves or do not spend time at home alone, they are at risk of developing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be very serious and can require medication to control it. When a dog has separation anxiety, they panic when their people leave or when they are left alone. It is much easier to prevent this problem than it is to “fix” it.
If you are considering adopting a new dog. Take time to consider if you are prepared for a “new born” or if your lifestyle is better suited for an adult dog. Although you have less time with an adult dog, you can get a better idea of an adult dogs’ personality and you don’t have to deal with the “puppy stuff”. If you are still set on getting a puppy, remember you want to teach the puppy how to be a confident, resilient, good mannered adult dog which means your puppy needs training, socialization, and should be left home alone sometimes!
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