Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Puppy Chronicles - Deciding to Get A Dog

After a year of lockdown, and with the warmer summer months approaching it is a time when many people are considering adding a dog to their family. The school summer holidays are always a peak time for puppy breeders and rescue centres. Unfortunately after the holidays are over and the children have grown bored many of these dogs then find themselves in shelters or even worse abandoned.

It is also very often the case that people buy puppies without doing their research and either end up with a sick puppy or one that they have no idea how much work it entails to care for a puppy. Now let me point out I am not labelling everyone here, a majority of people get dogs for the right reasons. Unfortunately you do get some selfish people who buy them as a quick fix for their children over summer who then cannot be bothered with the upkeep. A sad story and one that many many rescue centres all over the world will confirm.

With that in mind over the next few weeks I will be adding articles on guides for getting a new puppy or dog as well as training tips and tricks, common health complaints to watch out for and nutritional needs.

If you are considering either adopting a dog or purchasing a puppy then you need to think carefully about your own home and circumstances first. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs, some need much more exercise then others, some don’t need as much. First look at your home and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have enough space to accommodate a dog?

  • Is the breed you are considering suitable for your home?

  • Are there any hazards eg stairs with no banisters, steep drops etc

  • Do you have glass furniture? Sharp edges, large windows that are easily mistaken as open doors.

You need to think about the size of the dog you are considering, and how big it could possibly grow. Look around and see if your home has enough space for a dog to get around easily, places to sleep etc. Remember many dogs also run around indoors so consider the possibility of things getting knocked over. Glass topped furniture especially. Whilst thinking about your furniture, would you be happy having to cover your sofa’s with throws, would your dog be allowed on the sofas?

Personally in my home nowhere is off bounds for any of my fur babies, they can go wherever they like and sleep wherever they like. They all have their own beds but choose to sleep on my bed or the sofas. So everyday I vacuum to stay on top of the moulted fur.

If you are considering a dog or puppy accept the fact that they can and will make a mess.

Dogs can be kept in flats as well as houses, if you are in a flat then a dog can still be very happy as long as they get enough toilet breaks and walks.

If you have a garden ensure it is safe for a dog. Check there are no holes in fences, or loose fence panels. This would cause you to fail a home check with a rescue centre.

Once you have thought about the practicality of your home, think about how much time you can dedicate to your dog. Dogs must be walked at least once a day, some dogs more then once. How long are you usually out of the house each day? Is someone home throughout the day. If you are out most of the day and nobody will be at home then you’ll need to consider hiring a dog walker or dog sitter who can check in on your dog throughout the day. Many dogs suffer with separation anxiety and if left alone for too long can become destructive. If you are considering getting a puppy then it is best if someone is home for most of the day as they will require extra attention and training.

It is also important to consider the financial commitment to getting a dog or puppy. There are a lot of costs involved that you need to consider carefully. Veterinary costs, insurance, dog walking, food. It all soon starts to add up.

The best advice I can offer anyone considering either adopting a dog or puppy is to definitely take everything I’ve mentioned into consideration then do your research. If you are considering a puppy then research different breeds to find a few that will match your home and lifestyle. Think of breeds that you like and then look at their exercise requirements, how big they may get and whether they would suit you and your family and home. If you are considering adopting a dog from a rescue centre then they will sit down with you and discuss in detail your current lifestyle, home and family life and match you to dogs that match your situation.

It’s worth considering that there are some dogs in rehoming shelters that have specific requirements. There are older dogs who may suit someone who is not very active and may only require one walk a day. There are dogs with ongoing medical conditions which should never put you off adopting them. Many conditions are very easily managed these days and if you have a good vet your dog will live a long and full life. There really are so many possibilities.

One thing I would like to add is that there are an awful lot of Staffordshire bull terriers in rehoming shelters. Due to bad press many people are reluctant to rehome them. There is no such thing as a bad dog, it is the owners who are bad. Any breed of dog can become aggressive if not raised properly. I see so many people refusing to rehome a staffie and there really is no need to be so concerned. I have met many absolutely lovely staffies. I do not believe in writing off a certain breed just because of a bit of bad press. So if you are matched to a staffie don’t panic, it has been matched to you as you match his or her requirements.

Talk to other dog owners and find out about their own experiences, talk to staff at your local veterinary practice. Get as much information as you can to be able to make an informed decision. If you do your research you will not end up with just a dog. You will end up with a new family member who suits you perfectly.

My Experience

Before I welcomed Phoenix into my family I had done plenty of research. At the time I was with my former partner and as we both worked in the music industry found we was not at home a lot of the time. Adding a dog to our family was something we wanted to do together when we had the time to focus on the dog. We had been considering it for well over a year. 

I am someone who will always recommend adopting any pet from a rescue home. Everyday there are hundreds of dogs looking for their new family. I did a lot of research on a number of rescue organisations and looked at their policies. In the end I decided we would buy a puppy purely because we already had two cats who had never been around dogs. Whilst some dogs are tested with cats at the rehoming centres there was no guarantee that they would get on as they could not meet beforehand. If you already have a dog they require your current dog to meet your prospective new dog prior to any adoption taking place. With that in mind I made the decision that it would be best for both of my cats (Sox & Vixen) if we got a puppy. That could then grow up around the cats and learn how to act around cats. For us this was the best plan and one I never regretted.

Afterwards I spent a lot of time researching different dog breeds. We considered many; Poodles, Collies, Cockers. Then finally settled on Labrador. I had previously had a gun dog before so knew a bit about the breed group. I researched Labradors extensively, or so I thought. I had been under the impression that all Labrador’s were the same. It was only when Phoenix was a little bit older and still had so much energy that I researched her pedigree family tree and found she was a field Labrador. Also known as a working Labrador or American Labrador.

Later on I will share how we came to find Phoenix.

Next week I will be talking purely puppies in my guide to choosing the right breed and breeder for you.

As part of this series I would love for you to get involved, if you have any questions in regards to getting a dog or puppy or any behaviour, feeding or training questions please use the contact form or reach out to me on Instagram. Answers will appear at the end of each blog post in this series.

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