By Joy Matthews
So you’re getting a new puppy! More exciting than all your birthdays put together; such cuteness that your insides turn to warm caramel; a huggable, kissable, wriggling snuggle-chum! But wait, there are a few other things you need to know about becoming a puppy parent. Here’s what they don’t tell you about your new ‘job’ …
Cash – You blew your credit card at the pet store: a crate for pup to snooze in and be safely contained, complete with soft cosy bedding. Toys – lots of toys – to keep him/her occupied. Special (puppy) food and treats and chews (apparently nothing else will do), food bowl, lead and collar, harnesses, brush, poop bag, vet bills, vaccinations, pet insurance…..
Sleep – or rather a lack of. Puppies can bark, howl, whimper for hours – it tugs at your heart strings but may also drive you bonkers at times! Of course, you can enlist the help of a pet professional to find out how best to address this.
Social Life – Now you can look forward to weeks, maybe months, of boisterous puppy play that takes over your ‘me- time’ or going out. But it’s a lot of fun!
Chewing – Every surface that your puppy can put his jaws around might be tested for taste, resistance to needle sharp pressure and nibbled for relief of boredom. Anything not fixed firmly in place risks being moved, shredded and indented with teeth marks. Skirting boards and stairs often particular favourites. Management, aka antecedent control is key here.
Illusions – The illusion of pleasant walks can sometimes start to feel like an obstacle course as you wrestle with various pieces of equipment and try not to step on your pup as he or she zigzags around you.
Embarrassment – Your puppy may well embarrass you at every opportunity: Muddy paws on white trousered strangers, peeing … everywhere! Tangling you up in other people’s dogs’ leads, mouthing at folks’ shoe laces/cardigans or indeed anything clothing that dangles. Again, a pet professional can set you and your pup on the right path.
Sniffing – endless sniffing. A beautiful day at the park becomes a view of your puppy’s bottom, tail in air, nose down exploring the local fauna, flora and wildlife and … rubbish. Puppies just love picking up and trying to eat rubbish – paper towels, sweet wrappers, poo bags. You name it.
Reality check! Buying a puppy is not like buying a sofa. It will be more demanding than you ever imagine; more expensive and will change your whole lifestyle.
Think before getting your puppy…
Try before you buy – See if you can puppy sit or dog sit for a friend. Offer to look after their dog for a day or two. Understand what its really like to have a dog. Feel the sharp end and volunteer at the local rescue centre.
Breed? Research what different breeds were bred for.
- How much mental and physical stimulation does the breed typically need?
- How much barking can you expect;
- How much pet hair are you willing to vacuum up?
What are you prepared to give up? Take a long, hard, look at your life style. Be brutal:
- Are you going to give up luxury furnishings, a pretty garden and your social life?
- Will your neighbours tolerate it if your dog barks while you are out? If not, are you prepared to work on the issue with a training professional?
- Are you self disciplined enough get up at 6 a.m. on cold dark mornings to walk your dog?
- Can you give up spontaneous weekends away and nights out?
- Will your love and sense of responsibility be enough to parent this young animal?
And finally …
Being a puppy parent is not an easy job! Rescue shelters are brimming with dogs whose pet parents found they’d taken on too much. So, think carefully before choosing your pup – make sure its the right decision for you, your family, your lifestyle and of course the puppy. If it is then here’s to you enjoying a loving, fun and long lasting relationship together!
Written by Joy Matthews – adapted from the excellent article by Kay Laurence
You can download Kay’s original article here.
Do Check PPG’s Puppy Training Resources to get your pup started on the right track.
About the Author
Joy Matthews is the Founder of Joyful Dogs, a Cheltenham, U.K.-based dog and puppy training firm. She shares her life with a rescue dog called Gerry and has been lucky enough to be tutored by some of the ‘Dog Training Greats’, like Kay Laurence and Helen Phillips. She loves working in this field and is delighted by the number of her clients who are now enjoying a more thoughtful partnership with their dogs. Trying to see the dog’s point of view and finding ways to make learning together fun is what makes her tick!