Before you get the puppy

I’m excited to share our first Blog Series!  In light of so many people adopting or considering getting a new four-legged addition to the family, I wanted to share some thoughts for before, during and after you’ve made your decision.  I’ve divided this information into short, easily understandable sections and will share them over the next three months.  I hope you’ll find this information helpful and, please feel free to check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/trulyforcefree/) for more information and to ask questions.  I hope to see you there!

PART 1

Choosing your pet:

Questions to ask yourself before deciding to get a puppy:

1. Are you sure your family is ready for a puppy/ dog?

  • How long will the puppy be alone?
  • How much time do you have to exercise/ play and train the puppy?
  • Do you travel often?  Who will watch the dog when you are gone?
  • Does everyone is the family want the puppy?

If you don’t think you will be home often or have enough time to spend with a puppy, but you want a pet, you may consider getting a cat or kitten.  They need less human interaction.  If you are unsure, talk to a Professional (Animal Behavior Consultant, Animal Trainer or Veterinarian).  A puppy will become an adult dog.  They will be in your family for 12-18 years.  This is a decision that should not be taken lightly.  In some cases, getting an adult dog may be better for your family than a puppy.

Once you have decided that a puppy is in your future, the next thing to consider is what breed will be best for you and your family.

2. What breed is right for your family?

  • Is your family active?  Or quiet?
  • Do you plan to do a lot training or activities with your puppy/ dog?
  • Do you have a yard?
  • If you don’t have a yard, do you plan to walk the puppy/ dog daily?
  • Do you have other pets?  Do they have experience with puppies or dogs?  How do they handle the interaction?
  • Do you have small children that may be frightened of a puppy/ dog?
  • Do you have teenagers that will be leaving for college?  Will you still be interested in having a dog when they are no longer at home?
  • Are you financially able to take care of a puppy/ dog?
  • Do you need to get a pure breed or can you rescue?

Reality Check:

Getting a puppy that will soon be an adult dog comes with a lot of responsibility.  Every day, dogs are surrendered to animal shelters and rescues because people did not honestly think about getting a puppy before they “fell in love”.

A puppy is like having a new born with the perk that you can leave them home alone for short periods of time!  They need to be taught where to potty, they need to be taught manners.  They need to get out in the world so they won’t have fears as an adult.  As a general rule, puppies can be left alone for about 1 hour for every month they are old (plus one extra hour). For example, if you have a 12-week old puppy, he can be left alone for approximately 4 hours. Although this is a general rule, I personally don’t believe any dog/ puppy should be left longer than 4 hours without an opportunity to urinate and defecate.

If you have a stressful family life, busy schedule with the kids, long work hours, or other activities that create a busy family life, it’s helpful to consider these when thinking of a puppy or dog.  Some dogs may be OK in a busy family.  However, a puppy, has many more needs and will take more time.

OK, you are ready for a puppy!  What to look for in individuals?  Now that you are sure a puppy will fit in with your lifestyle and you are also pretty sure you know what breed you are interested in, now it is time to consider individual personality.

Considerations when getting a puppy:

  • In general, a more “balanced” puppy will be interested in you but not overly obsessed.  The more “balanced” puppy also will interact with people and the other puppy, should not hide from all activity.
  • A very outgoing puppy, is likely going to be more active and have more basic energy.
  • The puppy that hides from everyone may be very shy as an adult.
  • Make sure the puppy appears healthy – whether at a breeder or rescue.
  • When adopting from a breeder, make sure the parents are not only healthy but good-natured dogs. If you are not allowed to see the parents, use caution!
  • Ask a lot of questions! From either the breeder or a rescue.  If they are not willing to discuss any potential behavior issues, consider going elsewhere.
  • Breeders should know any potential health issues of the puppy:
    • Hip dysplasia (OFA, Penn Hip)
    • Eyes (genetic)
    • Heart murmur?

Remember, choosing to adopt or rescue a puppy or dog, is a big decision.  Be sure you take your time to make a good decision for you and your potential future four-legged family member!

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