Sharing your home with a four-legged friend can be one of life's greatest joys. Dogs, cats, and other pets give us loyalty and unconditional love, provide constant companionship, and even help relieve stress after a hard day's work.
Before making the decision of adopting a pet it is important that the family members discuss some of the next questions before obtaining a dog:
- Are you and your family willing to make a 10 - 15 year
commitment to this sentient being in sickness and in health,
for richer and for poorer, for as long as all shall live?
- Are you prepared to deal with special problems that a
pet can cause? Flea infestations, scratched-up furniture,
accidents from animals who aren't yet housetrained, and
unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common
aspects of pet ownership.
- Do you have time for a pet? Dogs, cats, and other animal
companions cannot be ignored just because you're tired or
busy. They require food, water, exercise, care, and
companionship every day of every year. Many animals in the
shelter are there because their owners didn't realize how
much time it took to care for them.
- Who Will Be the Dog's Primary Caretaker? Some parents
bow to the pressure their children put on them to get a dog.
The kids promise with tears in their eyes that they will
religiously take care of this soon-to-be best friend. The
truth of the matter is, during the 10 - 15 year lifespan of
the average dog, your children will be growing in and out of
various life stages and the family dog's importance in their
lives will wax and wane like the Moon. You cannot saddle a
child with total responsibility for the family dog and
threaten to get rid of it if the child is not providing that
care. It is not fair to child or dog. Choosing the family dog
should include input from all family members with the
cooler-headed, more experienced family members' opinions
carrying a bit more weight. The family dog should not be a
gift from one family member to all the others. The selection
experience is one the entire family can share. Doing some
research and polling each family member about what is
important to them in a dog will help pin down what you will
be looking for.
- Can you afford a pet? The costs of pet ownership can be
quite high. Licenses, training classes, spaying and
neutering, veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, kitty
litter, and other expenses add up quickly.
- Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you
have in mind? Animal size is not the only variable to think
about here. For example, some small dogs such as terriers
are very active, they require a great deal of exercise to be
calm, and they often bark at any noise. On the other hand,
some big dogs are laid back and quite content to lie on a
couch all day. Before adopting a pet, do some research. That
way, you'll ensure you choose an animal who will fit into
your lifestyle and your living arrangements.
The right Dog for you...
Now that you've thought out your decision to adopt a dog , and are dedicated to becoming a responsible dog owner the big question is: What kind of dog should I get? In order to find out what type of dog is best for you, you need to think about what you expect from a dog.
Do you want a jogging partner? Higher energy breeds, such as herding dogs, or working dogs are ideal exercise partners. They do require a lot of exercise, so if you aren't prepared to spend several hours a day exercising with your dog, maybe these types aren't for you.
Do you want a dog who's content to snuggle on the couch? Some hunting breeds, such as Basset Hounds, are content with shorter periods of exercise, or a good walk twice daily.
Do you want a dog that you don't have to bend down to pet?
Do you want a dog that you can lift onto your lap, or cuddle in your arms while standing?
Once you've decided on size and energy, it's time to look at other factors. Are there children in your home? A breed known for tolerance in children might be a good idea. Although any dog can be trained to be a family pet, some are more known for tolerance to the things children do (ie: screaming, running around, jumping). Never bring a dog into your home until you have taught your children how to behave with animals. No animal should have to put up with a child's abuse.
Depending on the origin of the dog you just adopted and its age, you may deal with different behaviors from fear, anxiety, confusion or resistance. In short words: It's culture shock, pure and simple. Put yourself in his shoes. So, be reasonable in your expectations. Be sensitive but don't let yourself be held hostage by thoughts of possible past cruelties and abuse. Don't treat him like a victim. The key is CONFIDENCE. Build his with consistent training and you'll turn him around. Don't worry; He'll get past it all. He'll become your dog. Be patient and constant and marvel at the transformation!
Before bringing your dog home, one important thing is to determine where your dog will be spending most of his time. Because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment (from shelter or foster home to your house), he may forget any housebreaking (if any) he has learned. Often a kitchen will work best for easy clean-up.
Also prepare a Dog-proof area where your pooch will spend most of his time during the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate, and installing baby gates.