There are many things to consider when bringing a new dog home. What is your living situation? Do you have children? Are there Cats? What supplies do you need? How are you going to train the dog, or are you the one that needs to be trained? What is the best breed for you or your family? What are the responsibilities that come with dog ownership? What are the challenges and rewards?
Rescue vs. Pet Store
Should you get a rescue from animal services, the humane society, or other pet shelters, or should you pay big bucks for a puppy of a particular breed? Most shelter animals are mixed breeds; however, it can be a waiting game, but purebreds do end up in shelters from time to time.
Puppies from pet stores or breeders can be wonderful but knowing you're giving a home to an animal that would otherwise likely be put down comes with its own peace of mind.
There are, on occasion, questionable practices in the dog breeding business. The term ‘puppy mill’ has a bad connotation, known for unclean and cruel conditions. They do exist, although they are not the norm. Do research about where the puppies are bred or try to meet the breeder and see the breeding conditions when possible.
Most dogs in shelters were abandoned by their owners. Some are puppies from unwanted litters, but most are adolescents or adults. Many animal shelters are over capacity and unfortunately have to euthanize unadopted dogs or send them to other shelters or pounds that will.
Puppy vs. Adult
There are advantages to buying a puppy and advantages to adopting an adult dog. There isn’t a big difference between the level of bonding that you will enjoy but nurturing a puppy to adulthood can be more of a parenting experience.
Adopted adolescent or adult dogs may not need to be housetrained, but a puppy will. Training takes time and patience. It is very important you possess both if you are going to invest in a puppy.
Also, some dogs don’t play well with others. Nothing could be worse than bringing a dog home that wants to terrorize your cat. Raising a puppy around cats is the easiest way to make sure everyone gets along. Raising puppies and kittens together can even result in them being best buds.
There are methods to acclimating older dogs to cats, but this is not recommended for some breeds like pit bulls, boxers, rottweilers, and other dogs known for their aggressive characteristics.
When choosing a new furry family member, it is important to know the needs of different breeds and sizes. Large dogs need room to run. If you want to own multiple large dogs, it is highly recommended to have a house with a fenced-in yard. Having a large dog in an apartment is completely doable if you are willing to take it to parks and go on walks frequently, but it is better if you have a backyard.
Small dogs tend to be high-energy and more attached to their owners. No matter what the size, if your dog is going to be home alone for extended periods, try to find a dog walker or neighbor to spend some time with them while you’re away. Some small breeds, like chihuahuas, can’t emotionally handle too much noise or commotion, so research different breeds and find out which is the best fit for your living environment.
Prepare Your Home and Have the Right Supplies
Puppies tend to chew on things like shoes, socks, wires, pens, pillows, and just about anything at ground level. Make sure you provide chew toys and try to keep the floor clear of smaller objects. If they have nothing to chew on, puppies will find something, so it’s very important to supply it, or you will be endlessly frustrated with the level of destruction those little teeth can achieve.
A crate and pee pads will help you train puppies and keep them out of trouble when you can’t be around. There are many different methods for potty training you can find on YouTube. Find what works best for you and your dog.
A crate can also be useful for bigger and older dogs that are unruly or anxious. It may take some getting used to, but positive reinforcement with treats can make a crate a safe space for your dog. Also, covering the crate with blankets can be a useful method for keeping them calm.
All the above applies to untrained dogs, regardless of age, but to a lesser extent.
Have food and water dishes. You may want to have a matt underneath to keep water and food particles off the floor.
A proper harness or collar and leash are needed as well. If the dog is a puller, you may consider a slip or prong collar. There are alternatives like compression harnesses and gentle leaders which tend to be a little more humane.
Treats and Food
Having healthy treats and food with the proper nutrition is also a must if you want your canine friend to live its best life. Consistency with food can be important for your dog’s digestive system. Some dogs won’t do well with rapidly changing diets. Picking the right dog food for the breed, size, and age can be a daunting task. Luckily there is a lot of information on proper dog diets out there. Seek advice from a veterinarian if your dog has digestive problems like loose stool or vomiting.
A mix of kibble and wet food works with most dogs. It can be both nutritious and appetizing for your loving companion. Also, try to feed them at regular intervals and overfeeding is not recommended. Being overweight will shorten the life of a dog.
With great power comes great responsibility, and to your dog, you might as well be God, or at least that’s how they’re likely to treat you. Taking care of a dog is just a fraction easier than taking care of a human child.
Dogs need exercise, training, regular veterinarian visits, grooming, lots of love, and tons of patience. Don’t think they are just a walk in the park, although they do love those. Make sure you can set aside time to spend with your pets and give them the care they need; these are prerequisites to taking on the responsibility of owner and guardian.
Pounds and shelters are full of animals whose needs were underestimated by their previous owners, and unfortunately, that led them to abandon or neglect these innocent creatures.
Seek professional training advice, when possible, either in person or through credible internet dog training sources. It is important to start training as early as possible. As a rule, dogs want to please their owners. Through love and positive reinforcement, a strong, functional, and healthy relationship between you and your furry friend can be nurtured.
Setting precedents and being consistent are two very important rules for a quick and smooth training process. Dogs are reactionary and will follow your lead if you are clear and consistent. Training takes time and patience. After the hard work is put in, the benefits will last.
The benefits of having a family pet are numerous, and the companionship a dog brings is irreplaceable.
Learning to take care of a dog can be a great way to teach small children the concept of responsibility or be a stepping stone to bringing a child into a young couple's life.
They can also be great motivation to be more active and enjoy the outdoors. Dogs are great icebreakers on many levels, whether it is with neighbors or at the dog park.
One thing is certain. If you can meet the needs of the dog you choose, it will love you till the day it goes to doggie heaven, and it will create a special place in your heart that will last a lifetime.