Welcoming a new pup into your household should be a time of absolute pure joy – he or she is a new family member after all, but sometimes it just turns into something akin to pure chaos, which is a shame.
In many cases, the reason for this is simply not enough planning, a rash decision, or the heart ruling head. A new puppy is a living, breathing absolute commitment for, let’s say at least 12 years and, hopefully, a lot longer. So many times, I wish I could un-pick a few choices or decisions that have been made. This way, perhaps the problems, issues and behavioral symptoms may not have occurred and a lot of heartache could have been saved on all sides.
Why Do You Want a Puppy?
On my pre-puppy visits to clients, this is always my first question. It stumps a lot of owners, but also gets them to think inwardly. Hopefully, the reasons will include enriching your life, companionship, fulfillment of the dog’s life, enjoying a wonderful and full life together etc. But if your reasons include suggestions such as a new playmate for an existing dog, or a fix for behavioral issues for an existing dog, then maybe think again.
Lockdown has really caused me to question many of these reasons and I’ve heard a lot – playmates for children, boredom relievers, and even a source of income when the dog is old enough to breed! Some of the comments have amazed me. If your reasons are not genuine from the start, I recommend you think again.
Dog breeds go in and out of fashion. Certain mixed breeds might be the ‘dog of the moment’ or a particular pure breed might be a celebrity dog to go for, but is this a good reason to choose that particular breed?
Research breed traits and think about whether you can cope with the amount of exercise that breed demands, the space that dog will require when he’s fully grown, the amount of mental stimulation he will need, and ask yourself if you can cope with the breed peculiarities and quirks.
It sounds obvious but that tiny, cute little ball of fluff that you see as a German shepherd puppy is going to grow mighty big!
There are so many rescue pups that need homes. In my opinion, we really should not be breeding incessantly – and only then if we can find loving forever homes for our pups. If you take on a pup or slightly older rescue pup though, make sure you can actually cope with what may be a little more of a challenge.
Choose your rehoming shelter carefully and make sure they provide you with as much information about the puppy/dog as possible and can give you post-rehoming support. The very last thing that anyone wants, especially the puppy/dog, is to end up back in the shelter.
Can You Handle A Puppy?
When you progress through a whole doggy lifespan and then come crashing back down to the puppyhood phase again, it can be a bit of a shock to the system. Despite all your best intentions, you do forget how things were when your dog was little. Also, things move on – different ways of thinking, different approaches, different products.
Consider whether you’re as tolerant as you were 12-15 years ago, whether you are up to the challenges of house training, mess, gnawed furniture, getting up at night, nibbling teeth and basically a lot of hard work. Having a pup can be tough and can put a strain relationships.
Is Everyone Onboard?
Is everyone in the household as keen as you? This has to be a family decision. When you’re training, puppy will only thrive and learn if there is continuity and consistency in your approach.
If you have children, are they willing to understand that they must be kind and gentle and allow the puppy calm time as well as have fun together? If you have other pets, are you sure that they will be happy to accept a puppy too, especially if your existing pet is older?
Think about what you will do with your puppy and what your approaches will be. Take advice early on from a qualified behavior consultant or trainer and work with them to ensure all your questions and concerns are addressed.
Ensure that you thoroughly socialize and habituate your new puppy and start as you mean to go on.
What I always say to all my clients is think how you would like your dog to interact with you, other people/animals, within and outside the household as an adult and start applying your boundaries now.
If you allow your puppy to run ragged, leaping, jumping at visitors etc. whilst she’s little, thinking it’s cute, and then chastise her only when she’s bigger at 6 months, how is she to know the difference? You will only cause confusion and anxiety. Start teaching appropriate manners, meet and greets now and other polite behaviors.
A little foresight goes a long, long way when it goes to welcoming a new puppy – a little bit of this and you’ll take some great steps forwards to a happy future together.