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So, You Want To Get A Puppy...

So, you are considering getting a puppy. Before making such a big commitment, ask yourself: How will the dog fit in long term with the family? Lifestyle? Work? Travel plans? Is the puppy for your family or meant as a gift? Raising a puppy takes anywhere from 12-18 months and requires an insane amount of time, patience, commitment, training, and money if you’re going to do it right.

When considering a dog, take a deep look at your family and lifestyle. If you have young children you will want a dog that seeks out human companionship and has a high tolerance for lots of stimulation. If you only exercise on an occasional basis, you may want to steer away from hunting, herding, or working breeds. Looking for a dog to take to wineries, browse the local parks, and visit the brewery with? Make sure to research breeds that adapt easily and are social. For those of us who do not wish to be smothered with love on a 24/7 basis, Terriers, Hounds, and independent breeds may be a more suitable fit. Looking for the ultimate snuggle buddy? Look for a breed that seeks human contact and is less independent. Make sure to diligently research breed types before buying or rescuing a dog.

When getting a dog - take the breed’s grooming needs into careful consideration. Dogs such as the Labra - Golden - Aussie - St. Berna - Doodles require professional grooming every 6-8 weeks. A bill to the groomer can range $150-200  per visit. That’s easily around $1000 or more per year in grooming expenses. Over the lifetime of the dog … let’s not even go there. Other breeds such as Australian Shepherds, Huskies, and Golden Retrievers may require regular visits to maintain shedding, but require significantly less work. Wash and wear breeds with short sleek coats can be groomed from comfort of your own bathtub. Keep the time and budget in mind when deciding what you are willing to commit to grooming.

Whether you are purchasing a dog from a breeder, or welcoming a bundle of joy from your local rescue - the most important criteria should be temperament. A dog which appears shy or hesitant may not develop into a very tolerant or socially outgoing companion. That’s fine if you don’t have kids and just want a snuggle buddy to watch Netflix with, but not ideal if you want are looking to participate in activities with your dog. In a perfect world, pick the puppy that is eager and outgoing, but will settle down. The ideal puppy is not overly pushy, but not shy or hiding either. Looking to get involved in competitive sports? Make sure to select a dog that meets those needs!

Unfortunately, not all dogs are created equal…for your lifestyle. Sure, they are all deserving of love, shelter, and care … but not every dog will be a good fit for you and your family. Just like purchasing a house, buying a car, or making any other investment in your life and future … make sure the dog meets your needs BEFORE committing.

I see way too many owners on a daily basis who make excellent dog owners, but they absolutely have the wrong dog for their household. They simply either did not do their homework before getting their dog (and did not know what to look for in a breeder or rescue), were unprepared for the work required to meet the dog’s needs on a daily basis, or a puppy was just a decision based on various factors or commitments.

Before getting that next pup - ask yourself first:

  • Why do I want a dog? What role should the dog have?

  • What exercise am I able to commit to?

  • Am I able to budget veterinary bills?

  • Who will watch the dog when I’m out of town?

  • Am I willing to do regular grooming?

  • What kind of dog will match with my kids?

  • What disposition would go with other dogs in the household?

  • Who will be responsible for the dog?

  • What behavior traits am I unwilling to live with (aggression, fear, anxiety?)

  • How committed are other members of the household?

Compatibility in a multi-dog household must also be considered. If you are already sharing your home with one or more dogs - you have to take into account their age, breed traits, disposition, play style, and social flexibility. A Golden Retriever and Springer Spaniel may do fine in the same household with some effort. Having a high drive puppy like a Malinois join a household of crotchety senior Chihuahas may be super challenging for the average owner. Keep in mind that bringing in a new dog means diligent management, training, consistency, and commitment with all members of the household! Are you biting off more than you can chew?

Are you sure you want a puppy? I say it all the time - puppies are assholes. They require significant more commitment than an adult dog. The road can be bumpy and cumbersome until your pup becomes a well adjusted and trained companion. Do you have the time? Are you physically capable of keeping up with the demands of the puppy? How’s your patience? Alternatively to getting a puppy, rescue an adult dog who has been fostered, or open your home to a retired breeding/show dog.

Many loving parents want to gift the joy of dog ownership to their children. It teaches responsibility, right? However, when the kids grow up, friends and activities take over, college is around the corner, and the novelty wears off … who will be responsible for the dog? Parents must be willing to commit to the care of a pet when children are unable or unwilling to. If that’s a deal breaker … then you may want to reconsider your choice of pet or look into getting a stuffed animal instead.

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