10 things to know before you get a puppy

1. Hard work. Puppies are like newborn babies. They need to be walked in the middle of the night, comforted when they are scared and crying, and plenty of interactions to help them grow up into well-balanced, happy pets.  Consider the amount of time this entails.  If your life is running from one activity to the next, maybe it is better to hold off until things slow down.

2. Cost.  Owning a pet, especially a puppy is expensive. Consider the fact that most dogs will live between 10-20 years.  They require multiple visits to a vet, monthly medicines (such as flea & tick preventatives), vaccines, licenses (in some states), food, accessories, grooming and vitamins. Typically, cost of ownership in the first year will be the highest.  Ranging somewhere between $1000 and $3000.  Total costs over your dog’s lifetime will range between $10,000 and $20,000.  If you don’t have it in the budget, time to hold off.

puppy puppies

3. Delegating Responsibility.  A common theme we hear in the pet industry is that a parent will adopt a puppy for their kids.  Even the most responsible of children will slack occasionally shirk their pet care duties due to homework, after-school activities and socializing with friends.  More often than not, the parents will be the primary caregivers walking, feeding and cleaning up after their pets. It is excellent to have your children involved in caring for the family pet but understand that many kids may not follow through with their duties when the newness wears off.

4. Destructive. I will never forget the day when I came home from work and my puppy Rocky chewed through a corner of our carpeting and into our security system wiring.  Thank goodness he did not get injured, but the cost to repair the carpet and the security system was staggering.  Puppies like to chew.  Some puppies are little Houdini’s too that can escape baby gates and crates.  Be prepared!  If you get a puppy they may chew your furniture, baseboards & molding as well as urinate and defecate in your home.

5. Grieving. When our other pet passes away, to fill the void we sometimes adopt a puppy too soon during the healing and grieving process. Our emotions are all over the place and with this emotional baggage, a new puppy may be confused. Dogs have an amazing way of reading our minds and sensing our emotions.  (This is one of the main reasons why I love canines so much!)  If your heart is still grieving with loss, give it some time before getting a new pet.  You may inadvertently create an unstable mind with your new puppy.  Think of it like this – every time you interact with your new friend, a wave of sadness comes over you, your new pet thinks you are sad because of him.  Dogs aim to please all the time so it is difficult to fulfill this role if they cannot accomplish this.

6. Multiple pets. Older dogs typically can ‘care less’ about a young whippersnapper in the home. General guideline is to keep the pets’ ages within 5 years of each other. Also, know your family. For example, I have two small children and they love our 14 year old Lab Janet to pieces!  If we brought a new, active, fun puppy into the home, my poor loving and loyal friend would be ignored for the younger more playful pet. That is just not fair to her.

puppies playing

7.  Training.  Like children, a puppy needs rules and boundaries.  You can either go the professional route and work with a dog trainer or you can do it on your own.  Either way, you need to practice, practice and practice.  This takes time.  If you do not have this time and dedication, it is best not to bring a pet into your home at this time.

8. Know the Breed.  Whether you get a purebred or a Heinz 57, each characteristic that breeders have purposely bred into these babies are alive and strong.  If you are an active person that wants to take your pet everywhere with you, consider a more high energy breed.  If you tend to be a homebody and less active, find a puppy that has those traits as well.  Don’t allow the adorableness of a puppy to dictate your lifestyle.  Also look into health concerns for the breeds and grooming requirements.

9. Life-Long Commitment.   The ASPCA estimates that 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide every year.  Here’s another estimate from the ASPCA post…“Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.”  Many pets end up in shelters because the owners were not prepared and have not thought through what owning a pet really takes.  The biggest reason for surrendering a pet is bad behavior.  This translates into not taking the time necessary to properly train your puppy and interacting with them often.  If you make the decision to own a dog, please consider this final and do not give your pet away when things ‘don’t work out as you thought.’  Pets are living, breathing creatures that have feelings too.  Being rejected by a family that they love so thoroughly can be devastating.

10. Be Prepared.  For unconditional love, friendship, protection, loyalty, devotion, companionship, laughs, joy, bonding, cuddling and sloppy wet kisses!  In a crazy world there is nothing better than a dog.

Puppies running

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