Getting a Dog: Part 2

Selecting a Dog (or Puppy)
Adoption vs. Breeder

Adoption can save two lives. The first is the one that goes home. The second is the one that takes its place. Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). There are dozens (if not hundreds) of shelters and rescues across the city and state that would love to save as many of those lives as possible. Some are foster based, some are breed specific, some are open intake, and some are not. Meet with multiple dogs, multiple times. Have them meet the whole family. Take your time in selecting a pet from a shelter or rescue. Consider different ages, breeds, and ask a lot of questions. Most of the time, the volunteers, fosters, and/or kennel staff can give great insight into the dog’s personality. Did you know? The percentage of purebred dogs in shelters is anywhere between 25-35%.

As for breeders, do your due diligence. The goal is to find a responsible breeder and prevent contributing to the awful world of backyard breeders (puppy mills). When looking for a breeder you should be able to see where the dog lives and meet the mother. Most puppy mill owners will try to meet you at a location other than where (s)he lives. Ask a lot of questions. They should be responsive to those questions. Most breeders are very knowledgeable about the breed, temperament, and traits. If they are not, that is a red flag. Do they care about the pups? Will they require you to sign a contract? Concerned about their health? Are they friendly? A responsible breeder understands the importance of socialization and should require to wait until the puppy is 8-12weeks old. Most are willing to take the puppy back for any reason including a life time guarantee for disease or temperament problems.

Must Haves
The required must haves before bringing home a dog include a well-fitted collar, harness, a 6ft leash, and identification tag. Other items that should be purchased include an ample amount of toys, 1-2 Kongs®, an appropriately sized crate, and dog bed.

Transitioning to the Home
Your new pet won’t know the house rules immediately. You can expect a few accidents, maybe a knocked over trashcan and counter-surfing, jumping, sniffing, mouthing and some chewing. Be patient during this time. Keep in mind, dogs are impressionable in a new environment. It will take some time for your new dog to learn the house rules and expectations. Invest some time during this transition to socialize, teach, and get acquainted with your pet. Depending on their personality, dogs may act differently within that initial transition period vs. once (s)he’s comfortable. Go at their pace and try not to push them.

Importance of Obedience Training
Training is one of the most important activities you can do with your dog. The important thing to remember is it’s all about the relationship that you build with them. That relationship should be built on trust, respect, and understanding. Training from the beginning will help with those undesirable behaviors that may arise. It will happen. Through simple modification or redirecting his actions, you will give him the proper tools to not only respect you, but to learn how to be a member of the family.

Remember, everyone is a trainer. We can teach good behavior or bad behavior and great dogs don’t just happen. There is a lot of work that is involved. According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey 2015, pet problems are the most common reason that owners rehome their pet, accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs and 42% of rehomed cats. Pet problems were defined as problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, or health problems owner couldn’t handle. Being prepared, will allow you to work on any issues and stay committed to your pet.

Proper Identification
Ensure your pet has proper identification including ID tags, a current license, and microchip. Most cities require a current license for their resident’s pets. It is highly recommended to microchip your pet. For microchipping questions, speak with your veterinarian. If not available, there are plenty of low-cost microchipping services available. Reach out to your local animal services or mobile vet clinics. Microchipped dogs have a much higher chance of being returned to their owner than those without. Microchips should have the most up-to-date information including current address and phone numbers. Update your contact information immediately, should you move.

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