Ready for commitment

Let’s start with a quick recap so far. You have read about the inevitable costs of dog ownership, the crazy world of dogs and the joys that they can bring to your life.

After all that you have decided you are ready for the commitment, but wait; what breed do you go for?

This is where your research really needs to come into play. There are certain breeds that can suit certain lifestyles/family structures. You really need to consider the following main attributes from the new addition to your family.

Temperament

We are all well aware that different dogs have different temperaments. This can be generalised by breed, however, not forgetting that each dog is individual. For example if you have a young family you will want a breed that is calm, tolerable and affectionate. The temperament is the basis of a dogs personality.

Size

Size is often something people forget about when looking at breeds. A lot of people see a dog, fall in love with it and go for it. Finally getting him/her home only for 18 months down the line they realise they have brought home a malamute which can grow to the size of a small child. This makes your home that little bit smaller.

Fitness levels

Each breed will have its natural state of fitness or energy levels. For example a husky (of any creed) will have a very very high energy level. Requiring many many miles of walking daily, remembering their natural instinct is to pull as a pack. I had a friend with two huskys that had to build a sled with wheels to take them for walks, just to wear them out and heed to their instincts.

Have a steady head when deciding on the level of natural fitness you are looking for in a dog, and be realistic with yourself. This, however, does not mean you are going to find a lazy dog that requires no walking, all dogs require a good daily walk.

So what’s next once you have created the attributes you are looking for? Well it’s to nail down which breed matches such attributes. Thus starting your many visits to breeders or rehoming centres. 

Picking your pooch

You can’t just visit a breeder/rehoming centre just once. Even if you meet a dog you fall in love with. It is important to introduce the family to the dog, especially kids if you have them. This is to make sure that your potential new family member gets on with all members of your current family; it will save awkward situations in the future.

After the initial introductions you want to visit a couple of times after that. You could have caught him/her on a good day. Take them for a walk. Play with them and judge how they are responding to you. This is up there with being one of the most important times of your puppy selection. Get this wrong and it could cause some serious problems later down the line.

Rehoming or puppy

I personally support rehoming a dog and giving them a chance of living in a happy home after potentially not having the best of times in the past. Giving them a brighter future. It is however, personal preference. The advantage for some by getting a puppy is they get to impart some of their personality onto their dog. Also early training and training how they want. Don’t forget though the concept that you ‘can’t teach old dogs new tricks’ is false. Dogs learn from repetition and reward, this does not switch off when they get over a year old.

If rehoming I would highly recommend that you a/ rehome from a reputable charity and b/ make many visits during your selection phase. There are benefits and rewards in either approach.

It’s home time

I mentioned previously that selection and spending time with your potential new addition was up there with being one of the most important aspects of dog selection. Well this stage is the most important between you and your puppies relationship.

Whether you have decided to get a puppy or rehoming an older dog, this can be a very traumatic time for them. In essence they have just been dragged from their current home/situation and brought to your strange unusual house. They do not know where they are. They do not know who is going to feed them. It’s a brand new world.

Take it slow. Let them take the time they need to settle in. Step 1 let them explore the areas of the house you are going to let them roam in. Some people limit this to the first floor, which is fine; there’s no harm in boundaries. Step 2 give them somewhere comfortable to lay their head and what will become their bed space. Do not overwhelm them, especially a rehomed pooch. Over the first couple of days get a family member at a time to re-introduce (they would have already met all of you during the selection phase, of course) themselves and have a stroke and a little play. This can then slowly increase to more and more.

As you can imagine if they are overwhelmed or rushed in their first couple of days they could recluse and try hide away, which has the potential to be a permanent aspect of their personality. Not too much in puppies but definitely more so in older dogs; you never know what they have been through.

This is also a good time to set out feeding times. Dogs like a little bit of a routine. And obviously feeding time is an important part of a dogs life. Personal recommendation is taking your dogs daily recommended intake of food (brand dependant) half it and feed your pooch twice a day rather than once. This will increase in puppies.

All settled

After a week or so they will have settled in nicely and you will really start to see your new best friends personality really come through. They’ll be bouncing around the house, sleeping in the same room and protecting the family before you know it.

Once again thank you for reading. If you have any further questions about this then please do not hesitate to comment and ask away. 

Also I do not claim to be an animal behaviour specialist, I’m going by personal experience and all the research I did before I ended up with Max. One of the main purposes of this post is to try and eradicate the stigma surrounding the rehoming of an older dog. It’s all based on negative reports where there are many other positive reports that people do not hear about.

Next up we will take a look at dog breeds and examples of what breed is good for families etc. 

Thank you for reading and Bark on.

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