When deciding to get a puppy it’s important to understand the implications. The ads are right, a puppy isn’t just for Christmas. Before getting a puppy – especially if you haven’t had a dog before it is worth knowing what I think are the 3 biggest mistakes that people make when taking this step.
1. Ensuring that you have enough time.
The first few months are critical groundwork to the raising of a happy healthy and sane dog. I strongly recommend that you organise getting a puppy with taking holidays or being able to work from home for a least the first few weeks. Apart from being exhausted from disrupted sleep and the full on flat out (or totally pooped) puppy they need feeding 3-4 times daily and teaching how and where to toilet, how to interact, how to explore and how to connect with you, to follow you and respect you and love you.
If you can’t do this, then you need to find a dog walker who works with puppies to start this process, check up on the puppy through the day. To leave the little one alone all day while you are at work is not the basis for a happy dog.
Then there is the ongoing commitment to having this little entity as a central part of your life. The more you put in the more you will get back, it really does work like that. You need to exercise, socialise, educate, groom, inspire, connect, cuddle, play, love and especially feed this addition to your life and that is not a 2 minute exercise. It is a total pleasure to do all these things, whether that is couch potato on the lounge together or out and about, all of it feeds the connection and developing love story. But make no mistake, it takes time and that time has to be made available.
And if you don’t have time for this, get a cat.
2. Wrong breed for the lifestyle of the human.
I strongly recommend doing your research before falling for a puppy. All puppies are adorable, but not all adult dogs will suit your particular needs and way of living. If you thrive on exercise, or love cuddling up with a book, there is a breed that will suit, and a breed that will clash. The clash is very sad for both parties. Not all small dogs can live in an apartment, and not all big dogs need a lot of space or exercise. It is not the scope of this blog to talk breeds but Google the breed, talk to owners, go to the park, find out the upside and the downside of breeds you think you might like.
Never buy from a pet shop. This practice encourages puppy farms and as we currently have no legislation in place to enforce standards, there is no way of knowing the conditions that your puppy was born into. Puppies taken too young from their mothers frequently have ongoing social adjustment problems, if kept in cages are difficult to toilet train etc etc. It just isn’t worth it.
Better yet, adopt from a rescue or shelter and give a dog a second chance at happiness.
3. Little knowledge of what dogs need in order to thrive.
It is a universal truth that dogs need:-
- To feel safe
- To be loved
To feel safe is a fundamental need and often overlooked. Feeling safe comes from a number of sources. They are tribe members, much like we are, and need their tribe even if that tribe is just you. They need to feel they can trust you, their human; they need a place to be that is their place, their sanctuary whether that is a bed or a spot on the lounge, where they can go and rest, secure that they are safe from predators and poking fingers and tail pulling. Safety to me is also about boundaries, they know what is right and wrong for you, they have a routine that you follow so that life is predictable, companionship, that they are not left alone for long hours.
To be loved sounds simple enough, what is not to love about a dog, but so often we forget that they are simply being, they are not thinking, they reflect us back to ourselves and the love we feel and show is the love they feel and show. To embrace their essential nature, that is fun loving, playful, just being in the moment, is one of the greatest joys in having a dog in our lives. Understanding the breed of your dog and what they love most to do, and all dogs love to socialise, to go out and smell the roses. Socialising is vitally important to the sound development of your dog, to explore the world with you and that is your gift to them.
Nourishment. It is your responsibility to do your absolute best to provide food that nourishes and creates a healthy vital and flourishing dog. You are what you eat, and your dog is what you choose to feed him or her. If you are on Wellbeing for Dogs website you will know that we advocate feeding dogs real food not factory made commercial pet food that is an extruded waste product with a vitamin premix. You wouldn’t feed a (human) child food from a packet or tin for their whole life and expect them to thrive, so why do we expect to do this for our dogs. Yes they have some different dietary needs to us, but these are taken care of with the Wellbeing Essentials, your good honest healthy food, and our mix makes for the best opportunity for your dog to thrive.