We have a new baby in the house! Everyone, meet Bear, our seven-week-old Schnauzer puppy. He is simply adorable! So you decided you want a puppy? I cannot say that I did.
I Do Not Want a Puppy!
Bear is a rescue. He and his brother were born in a house with lots of other dogs. They were not able to get a lot of attention in their short little lives. When my friend asked on Facebook if anyone was interested in a puppy, I commented quickly. But my comment was “I do not want a puppy. I do not want a puppy. I DO NOT want a puppy.” Yes, it was me I was trying to convince. You see, I am the person that adopts full-grown, house-trained dogs that only need some socialization and obedience training. Within days, I had both of them and Bear’s brother went to some friends at a local rescue organization.
A Little Love Goes a Long Way.
The little guy was very timid. After a little cuddling and love, he was wagging his tail when he saw me. It is obvious that he is a smart fella. He already gets a little panicked when he has to potty and runs to the side door. Our last few rescues have been miniature Dachshunds, which are notoriously stubborn and seldom ever truly housetrained.
It All Started With Animal Rescue.
It started probably ten years ago. We adopted our first Dachshund from the local shelter. And then we started fostering dogs through a local rescue. Fostering animals is a great way for kids to learn responsibility and how to care for animals before you commit to a pet. Working in animal rescue, I saw cases of abuse, neglect and sheer irresponsibility. I am hoping this post will give you something to think about and share with friends and family that may be considering a new pet.
Before You Get a Dog or Cat
Many neglected and abandoned pets were once loved and cared for by families who didn’t take the future into account. Cats live an average of twenty years. Before you consider bringing that cute kitten home, ask yourself if you want him to be around longer than your children.
Puppies or even adult dogs take a lot of time and energy to train. Like human babies, they don’t sleep all night. Nighttime is scary for wee puppies and they tend to whine and even howl when they realize they are lonely. They need to be fed often and leaving a bowl out where they can feed on demand is best. That is how mama dog handled it and they don’t like empty tummies. And then they must be taken out or they will go on the floor and walk through it. At that point, you will want to bathe them or your house will smell awful!
Feeding your pet should not be the only financial concern. Veterinary bills can become quite expensive if your pet becomes ill or came to you with an illness. You must be prepared to pay for vaccinations, treatment for parasites, rabies, and heartworms every year.
So You Are Ready for the Time Commitment
Please consider your local shelter or rescue organization when choosing a pet. There are so many abandoned animals that need loving homes. The shelters and rescues in our area will usually take care of the first round of immunizations, spay or neuter, and screen them for heartworms and other ailments. Contrary to popular belief, you can get pure-bred dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies with rescue organizations.
Take the time to bring your dog to obedience classes. The benefits become apparent after only a couple of lessons. You will learn quickly what will work and what will not and have an expert to give you feedback when needed.
What to Consider When Choosing a Dog:
- Try to match the activity level of your family to the activity level of the breed. You do not want a Great Dane, Labrador, or Australian Shepherd in an apartment unless you walk or exercise them daily. A bored dog tends to misbehave. You also should not have an English Bulldog or Basset Hound if you are an avid hiker or cyclist.
- Consider whether the breed tends to stay underfoot if getting a pet for an elderly relative. A Dachshund will very often follow their owner everywhere and can become a tripping hazard.
- Know that dogs may chew on your shoes, furniture, baseboards, kids toys, dirty laundry etc. The home should be pet-proofed like you may do with a baby.
- Think about how much you work and how much you are home. Dogs are pack animals and need regular interaction with their people.
- A puppy (under a year old) will need almost constant supervision and training for months.
- All animals shed unless they are hairless. Think about how much hair you lose daily. Dogs and cats don’t wash and brush theirs every day.
After You Get Your New Pet:
Start cats off in one room with the door closed until they get used to you, your family, and other pets in the home.
- Introduce new dogs to your existing pets on neutral ground (not your home) with both pets on a leash and take it slow.
- Consider crate-training rather than leaving them unattended. A dog will start to feel cozy and comfortable in her own kennel in your home. It is likened to a child with their own bedroom. The dog needs his own space.
- Pets need regular exercise and mental stimulation. Play with your dog or cat daily. Give them toys they have to figure out while you are gone. Take your dog for a walk, even if it is just downstairs or up and down the driveway.
- Do not leave a dog unattended with children. Do not allow children to climb or hang on a dog. It can make an animal uncomfortable and you do not know how he will react. Behavior training is for the dog and the humans.
- Do not leave your food where it is easily accessible to the pet until they are trained to leave it alone. She will eat it. She may also dig in the trash if given the opportunity.
- Take him to the vet annually and feed him good, quality food and fresh water daily.