Now that you’ve decided you are, in fact, ready for a dog, another important question is should you get a puppy or an adult? Puppies are undeniably cute, but come with a daunting workload.
Young puppies are much like human babies in that they are totally helpless. They have little to no control over their bladder and bowels and therefore need to be let outside to attend to mother nature about once an hour or more. They can be crated (which helps them learn some bladder/bowel control as they do not like to eliminate where they sleep) but only for short periods. The general rule for puppies is that they can hold their bladder for 1 hour per month of age. This means you are probably going to have to wake up several times during the night, and certainly won’t be able to leave your young pup crated for a full work day. Penning is acceptable for longer periods, but will be a detriment to your house training.
Puppies also require a lot of energy to keep up with them. They must be constantly monitored to ensure they do not get into trouble and develop bad habits. Inappropriate behaviours, like chewing, need to be consistently redirected to appropriate objects.
Puppies do not come pre-programed for the human world, and therefore good, positive training right from the start will be a huge help. I highly recommend anyone with a new puppy to enroll in a positive puppy class with a qualified instructor (I am happy to help find someone in your area, just ask!). Puppy classes not only give you a jump start on teaching your dog some English language, they should also cover common puppy issues such as jumping, barking, housetraining, nipping and more. Your puppy will also get to socialize with other dogs and humans in a safe, sterilized environment which can be invaluable. Socializing has to be done by 16 weeks of age and earlier is better, so I recommend finding a training class sooner than later. Your puppy could safely start 1 week after their first set of vaccinations.
If you have thought it over and decided a puppy is not in the cards for you at this point, I have good news! There are many wonderful pure and mixed breed adult dogs waiting to join your home. If you have your heart set on a certain breed, check with reputable breeders to see if they have any adult dogs that are looking to rehome, or look on Petfinder or research into breed-specific rescues. You will be surprised at home many lovely purebred dogs are in need of homes! If you are cool with a mutt, the choices are endless. Petfinder allows you to search by proximity, age, sex, and breed if you want to try and find a certain mix. However, be aware these breed listings are often just guesses and not a guarantee for temperment! You are better off to make a list of qualities you want your dog to have (calm/energetic, good with kids/cats, etc.) and look for an adult dog who matches your needs. Guaranteed you can find an amazing dog that will fit your family to a tee! Rescue dogs make awesome pets, and many need little to no training. They are so thankful to have a family, home, and good meals and will never forget the kindness you have done for them.
Stay tuned for part 3! Check out Part 1 if you missed it.
Sarah Fulcher is an owner of Barks and Recreation Pet Services and a Certified Dog Trainer in Trail, BC.