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Well-Made Goods for Dogs & Cats
Well-Made Goods for Dogs & Cats

Bringing Home A New Dog or Puppy

So you are thinking of adding a new dog to your family. Congratulations! Bringing a new dog into your home and your heart can bring years of happiness for everyone. I am going through this myself now after losing our sweet boy last summer. It has been over 17 years since I last decided to get a dog, so I thought it was worth revisiting the thought process so that I can be sure my family is prepared for the lifelong commitment of a new dog.

Adding a new puppy to the family?

Here are some things to think about as you move forward:

1. How much time will you have to spend with your dog? Remember that you need enough time to train and socialize a puppy to raise a well-mannered dog. And shelter dogs can come with their own unique challenges. In both cases, it is important to enroll your new dog in a basic obedience class and remember, dogs left alone for long periods of time can be destructive and develop separation anxiety. If you are away a lot this may not be the best time to bring a new puppy or dog into your home.

Is your lifestyle active or sedentary?

2. Honestly assess your home and lifestyle before picking a dog: Do you have small children or other animals in the house? Do you live in an apartment or do you have a big yard? Are you active or fairly sedentary? Is there anyone in your family with special needs (e.g. allergies, anxiety, etc.)? Do you have the financial means for regular vet visits and any unexpected health issues or special needs that may come up?

Are there children in the household?

3. Research different breeds and temperaments. Use the answers to your self-assessment to find a breed that has the temperament, personality, and energy to match you and your family. Be open to new or unexpected breeds – you may be surprised to find the perfect fit in a breed you had never considered before. For example, I LOVE herding dogs – I just had a border collie/cattle dog mix for 17 years – but my spouse has dangerous allergies, so I have to switch to a hypo-allergenic breed.

What breed will work best for your lifestyle?

4. Decide on whether to adopt/buy from a shelter or a breeder. Many people fall into one camp or the other on this question. There are way too many homeless dogs in shelters, but responsible breeders aren’t adding to the problem. I believe there are compelling reasons for either approach, so consider both. A great dog can come from anywhere!

Reasons to adopt from a shelter: There is something magical about watching a rescue dog learn to relax, trust, play, and emerge from their shell with a new family. Our country has a serious pet overpopulation problem, with many deserving animals in need of a loving home. Shelters tend to have a good selection of types, breeds, ages and sexes of dogs of every shape, size, coat, and personality. With all of that choice you should have no problem finding a dog that will work in your family. Finally, adopting your new puppy or dog could save you a lot of money. While this shouldn't be your primary motivation, it is a nice benefit if this is the route you choose to take. The adoption fee for dogs is usually less than breeders, especially if you are going for an older dog. You could also save on veterinary costs - most shelter dogs are already spayed or neutered, have their initial vaccinations, are dewormed, and are microchipped. You may even get a voucher for a free veterinary examination or a free training class.

Shelter dogs come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and sex. Which works best for you?

Reasons to adopt from a reputable breeder: Note that when we say a “reputable breeder”, we are talking about one who loves their breed and takes great care in producing healthy, well-adjusted pups who accurately represent the breed in both looks and temperament. They find good homes for every animal they breed, and they keep track of them once they leave. For some people looking for a dog, the breed and temperament are critical for their home situation and can only be found through a breeder. There are tremendous benefits of getting a puppy who has never known anything but the safe, loving home of a breeder who is dedicated to bringing healthy puppies into the world. Good breeders breed for conformation, health – they do preventive medical screenings on potential parents - AND temperament. While this doesn’t guarantee your dog won’t end up a holy terror, these puppies are ideally set to be well-adjusted adults. With a breeder, you get to meet the puppy’s parents in advance, so you can have a pretty good idea of how your puppy will turn out. This was important to us to ensure no allergic reactions to the breed. Breeders make sure their adopters are/will be good dog owners, will steer adopters towards the puppies that will fit best in their life and many have a policy to take back an animal if something unexpected happens. Before you get your puppy, they will socialize her, make sure she is comfortable with noises and new experiences, and may even teach her some basic commands. You will know just about everything about your puppy’s life up until the day you bring her home. Finally, a good breeder will be available to you throughout your dog’s life - they like to stay in touch with the owners they sell puppies to and can be available if you have a question about your dog. They have probably experienced similar issues at one time or another.

A breeder can give you more predictability when selecting a puppy. Is this important to your family?

5. Be prepared for your new dog. Stock up on basic supplies before bringing your dog home. Be sure you have a collar, leash, quality dog food, a dog crate or bed, and a couple engaging toys to start. Once you get a better sense of your dog, invest in appropriate toys for the way she likes to play (e.g. tough toys, cuddle toys, tug toys, etc.). If she will be a second (or third?) dog in the house, introduce her carefully and keep an eye on toys to avoid squabbles.

Have supplies ready when you bring your new puppy home

6. Enjoy your new family member!

Have fun!

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