Bringing a puppy or dog into your home is one of life’s most exciting and rewarding experiences, but it’s important to be prepared to make the transition as smooth and successful as possible. Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment and you will need to provide for the dog for the rest of its life. The dog will also need to be properly trained and socialized to become a valued member of the family and society.
Here are some important tips to help you make the right decisions about getting a dog:
1. Should I get a puppy or an adult dog?
Puppies melt even the hardest of hearts and we are naturally drawn to the soulful eyes and endearing behavior of a puppy, but there are many advantages to adopting an older dog that is often overlooked. Adopting an older dog may be a better option for some people, especially first-time dog owners.
Older dogs generally have a more balanced temperament than puppies, and with an older dog, you get what you see. An adorable puppy can grow up to be a threatening and difficult-to-manage adult, but with an older dog, you know what you’re getting. Older dogs are less prone to many of the diseases that puppies are susceptible to, and many are already house-trained, which will make your life much easier. An older dog can also be a better dog for a home with children, as puppies can be very rambunctious.
Since each dog has a unique personality, the choice should be made on a particular dog and you should base your decision on getting the best dog for your particular situation.
2. Where is the best place to buy a dog?
Not all dog breeders are honest, so be careful before buying from a breeder. Make sure you do your research to avoid falling victim to an unscrupulous breeder, they are rare but they do exist. Insist on visiting the breeder’s premises and take a skeptical look around. Try to arrive earlier than expected to get a better impression of the place.
Take a good look at the cages in which the animals are kept. If they are dirty or if the dogs look neglected, move away. Trust your instincts, if the place makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to do business there.
3. What breed of dog should I get?
There are many breeds of dogs to choose from and you should try to narrow down your choice. If you like a certain breed, you need to research that breed thoroughly. Since many purebred dogs suffer from genetic problems and many breeds are prone to certain diseases, the more you know about a breed, the better informed you will be when making your final decision. Knowing the potential health problems of a breed before you buy a dog can save you a lot of heartaches later on.
Ask breeders about the breed you’ve chosen and research the breed on the Internet. There is a lot of information online, so take advantage of it. If you are interested in getting a dog of a breed that is known to have certain genetic problems, there are genetic tests that can be done on dogs to determine if they are at risk for developing a disease.
4. When should I start looking for a trainer for my new dog?
Training and socialization of your dog are essential aspects of dog ownership. A well-trained dog is not only a pleasure to own, but will also be a good canine citizen, reducing the risk of lawsuits arising from bad dog behavior.
You should find out what options are available to you before you bring a dog home. There are special dog clubs and puppy kindergartens where you can take your dog to be trained.
5. When should I choose a veterinarian?
Don’t wait until you have an emergency to start looking for a vet. It’s much better to choose a good veterinarian before you need one. Ask your family and friends if they can recommend a good veterinarian they have used by word of mouth. By asking around, you will be able to make an informed decision.
Try to find a quality veterinarian close to where you live, as this will make your life much easier in an emergency. Communities can help you do independent research on the quality of veterinarians in your area. Try to choose a veterinarian that is open after hours and is on call overnight (emergencies tend to happen at the most inconvenient times!).
6. Should I enroll my new puppy in a training class?
If you adopt a puppy, you should try to enroll him in a training class as soon as possible. This will allow the puppy to be properly socialized with other dogs and people. Another benefit is that puppies learn faster than older dogs, so delaying training your dog is not a good idea. That said, you can teach an older dog new tricks, but it may take a little longer.
Puppy training classes can help you learn a lot more about your new puppy and teach him how to behave around other dogs and humans. He’ll learn to face new situations confidently and courageously.
7. Should I ask other dog owners for advice?
Bringing a dog into your home can be a daunting experience if you are a novice dog owner, but sharing stories and experiences with other more experienced dog owners can teach you a lot. You should try to seek advice from experienced dog owners to learn more about how to care for your new dog.
8. What is a puppy?
Playtime is vital for puppies; they learn to interact with their environment through play. They also learn important canine social skills through play, and you should spend some time each day playing with your puppy.
Buy your puppy toys to keep him entertained and provide an acceptable means of chewing – puppies are teething and need something to chew on. Buy toys that are appropriate for your puppy. Cheap, flimsy toys can be swallowed and cause serious health problems; choose only good quality toys that are safe for your dog, as you would for a child. If your dog’s toys are damaged or worn out, be sure to replace them.
9. What should I feed my dog?
There are so many diets and brands of dog food available that choosing what to feed your dog can be daunting. Cheap, low-quality supermarket brands usually don’t provide the nutrients your dog needs, so read the ingredient list carefully before choosing a brand for your dog. Ask other more experienced dog owners and breeders for advice on feeding your dog.
Don’t overfeed your dog, because an overweight dog is not healthy. Be sure to monitor your dog’s weight for any sudden changes that could be a sign that something is wrong with him.
10. Do I need to take my dog in for veterinary check-ups?
You should have your new dog examined by the veterinarian of your choice within a few days of his arrival home. First, this will help you determine the dog’s general health, and second, it will help you establish a relationship with the veterinarian.
Ask the veterinarian any questions you may have about the dog’s breed, if the dog has any specific needs or requirements, and ask if he or she can recommend genetic testing. You should maintain a regular vaccination program for your dog and have him examined regularly to detect any health problems at an early stage before they lead to serious health problems. Early detection is critical to the successful treatment of many canine diseases.