It’s puppy season…Do you have what it takes??
In my years of training dogs and working in animal shelters I have heard countless (and I seriously mean countless) times the excuse of “we just don’t have the time he needs…”. It is a sad fact of life that people go about bringing a puppy into their family in a completely backwards fashion. It is usually all based on looks, bravado, fluffiness or a false sense of their own life reality. I have seen it time and time again, someone gets a high energy puppy with the thought “Oh THIS will make me get in shape” or “I want to do agility with him” (when they’ve never even stepped into a training class) Or they get a guardian breed dog and never socialize him and wonder why he growls and tries to bite strangers. Now, that is not to say that these scenarios can’t work and create some fantastic relationships and impart much wisdom and humility on people, unfortunately though that is the exception and not the rule.
The first thing (and I mean even before you start looking at dogs) you should do is write down your families schedule for one week, including impromptu visits from friends, trips to the store, library, school functions, etc. and then sit down at the end of the week and take a look at it. Is there time for a puppy in there? If someone is not home most of the day, (an 8-12 week old puppy shouldn’t be only for more than 3-4 hours max.), do you have the means to hire someone to come and exercise and let your puppy out to potty? Asking friends is great but someone you pay is often more reliable. Is your home easily set up to be puppy proofed? Gated off rooms, no small toys lying around, shoes and laundry off the floor, trash inaccessible, etc. A puppy needs plentiful and positive socialization and play time; do you have time to take your puppy in the car multiple times a day and expose him to lots of people and places and take him for walks in new neighborhoods? Are you able to supervise your puppy 100% of the time, especially during the potty training phase? Puppies need to potty at least every hour and almost immediately after they wake from a nap, play or eat/drink. Are you prepared to take your pup to proper training every week at least through his first two years of life? Yes, that’s right AT LEAST two years! One puppy class isn’t going to cut it. By the time the pup is between 6-9 months they hit adolescence and all training goes out the window, you wonder what alien has taken over your previously sweet and well behaved puppy! It happens again around 18months!
Am I making it sound like having a puppy is hard? You bet your life it is! It is constant work and supervision and mistakes and being on the ball! You have taken responsibility for another living being and that should never be taken lightly. Having a puppy in the home is like having an infant...do you have time for that? If you can answer all of my questions in the affirmative and you have done your research and talked with your family and figured out schedules and training classes and puppy proofed your home than I encourage you to go find the puppy of your dreams. Having a dog in your family is a great joy, just remember it is also a big responsibility and not something easily taken back once taken on.