Puppy or adult?
Babies are a lot of work — whether they have two legs or four. They need to eat often, pee and poop often, and they need frequent cuddle time and playtime. And they can’t be left alone all day. Four hours is the maximum time you should leave a young puppy in a crate. Crate training is the widely-accepted best method for house-breaking, preventing inappropriate chewing and other undesirable behaviours. Click here for more information: Housetraining your puppy.
A crucial aspect of raising a puppy is daily training and socialization to help them grow up to be a well-adjusted Fido. Raising a puppy takes a lot of time, commitment, patience and consistency for the first year, but it will pay off for the life of the dog. A puppy is not the best choice if you have a very hectic schedule.
If you are considering a puppy, please take the time – before you make the commitment – to learn what it takes to raise a good canine citizen.
Here are some excellent resources:
- Before You Get Your Puppy – a free downloadable book from world-renowned dog behaviourist Dr. Ian Dunbar.
- After You Get Your Puppy – also by Ian Dunbar.
- Many excellent puppy training books, DVDs and other resources from highly respected dog behaviourist Patricia McConnell: www.patriciamcconnell.com
You’ll also need to devote plenty of time to an adult dog – getting to know each other, developing a routine, and learning to trust and respect each other.
Many grownup Fidos are already house-trained and socialized, which will spare you the havoc of a puppy eating your slippers, chewing your furniture, and peeing on your plush carpet!
And because an adult dog’s personality is already established, you can be sure that the goofy, sweet Fido you meet at the shelter will be the same goofy, sweet Fido two years down the road.
Of course, some grownup Fidos were never taught proper behaviour, so you’ll need to provide leadership and a structured environment to teach them some manners. Obedience classes that use positive methods are a great way to bond and learn to communicate with one another.
How about a senior Fido?
There’s something very special about adopting a senior dog. These sweet, gentle souls seem to appreciate a loving home to live out their greying years in comfort. Of course, they are calmer and mellower than the crazy puppies and adolescent dogs. But they still need at least twice daily walks, playtime and plenty of affection.
With senior dogs, what you see is what you get; their personalities won’t change. (However, a shy dog that lived a somewhat neglected life will often come out of its shell in a stable and caring environment.) People often say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It’s not true. Dogs are amazingly adaptable and can learn new things at any age.
The downside of adopting a senior dog is that they probably won’t be with you as long as a young dog would. But your life will be enriched by this sweet soul and you’ll be rewarded knowing you’ve given a gift to a senior dog in need of a caring home to live out his or her life.