This is a guest post from Alison McEvoy at ipupster.com.
"Yay! Let's get a dog!"
You'd be surprised at how many intelligent, grown adults decide to expand their families (with fur babies) based on this one simple sentiment.
The truth is, there's a lot to consider before you bring a new dog into the house. Overlooking any of these qualities could result in a mismatch, which nobody wants.
Here are just some of the important areas to explore:
- Energy level
- Ease of training
- Sociable with children
- Long or short haired
- People friendly
- Dog friendly
- Attention seeker
- Coping with being left alone for long periods of time
This list is not exhaustive, but covers the most common points to think about when deciding on a new furry family member. With this in mind, let’s look at how these factors express themselves in the three main stages in a dog’s life.
Most pet owners will start with this age group, anywhere from 2 to 24 months old. This rapid growth period sees the puppy’s brain develop as she takes in all the stimuli of her surrounding environment — sights, sounds, scents, and touches.
The mouth of a puppy is sensitive and will allow for a lot of sensory input for what it finds on the floor or in the garden.
Dogs like to chew, but puppies bring it to a whole new level and anything is up for testing. In this regard, puppies are like human babies, so don’t leave any containers of household chemicals lying around.
Also be prepared for lots of puppy accidents as they learn to control their bladder and bowel movements.
From around 6 to 24 months the puppy will experience a high increase in her hormone levels, which affects her general behaviour and activity levels. You will notice that your calm, sleepy puppy has changed into an unruly teenager, with everything that entails!
She'll also become more adventurous and will start to roam around, and she will develop selective hearing or totally ignore your commands. But don’t worry; this is all part of the development of your puppy into adulthood.
Remember — this is a learning experience for your pet (and for you, too). This phase of puppy training is an important learning mechanism — it's where you set up the behavior-reward cycle... for better AND for worse.
It is much easier to train your dog from the get-go. Teach her the correct behaviour for food, how to walk correctly on a lead, how to behave in public and around children, etc.
Stop any bad behaviour by not responding. For example, if your dog wants to play tug-of-war with your coat sleeve, don’t encourage it. Instead encourage her to play with her doggy toys so she learns what she can and can't play with.
As puppies mature, they will calm down. Usually from 24 months onwards you will start to notice this change as their hormone levels start to reduce.
But as you well know, raising a pupster requires a lot of effort and arduous work. Raising a puppy is a privilege — and with it comes the responsibility to teach her good behaviour, so she can lead a happy and fulfilling life.
One of the advantages of adopting an adult dog is that he already has control of his bladder and bowels! And, he's less likely to chew on your sofa or destroy your valuables.
Despite not raising them yourself, you can still easily train an adult dog.
Here are a few things you might want to consider:
- An adult pup will learn faster, which is what makes them so appealing to wannabe pet parents who don’t have the time to train a puppy.
- They are less likely to turn your home into a war zone if left home alone.
- An older dog may have experienced long periods of isolation, and a greater effort may be required to help him feel safe.
- Talk to pet parents who have taken in rescue dogs. Listen to their ideas and experiences to help make the adoption process easier.
- At this point, your dog is now fully grown and the requirement for the continual renewing of upgrading dog collars and beds is now over. But if you need some... just sayin'.
- They will be more docile and a greater companion at this age.
It is a sad fact as dogs enter their twilight years, the expense on veterinary fees and medicine can prove too much for some owners. And it can be a lot to take in a family member you know will only be with you a short while.
That said, adopting an older dog can be an incredibly beautiful best-friend experience.
Pros of Adopting a Senior Dog:
- They require shorter, slower paced walks.
- Seek company and are at their happiest curled up at your feet.
- Already house trained.
- Looking for a quiet environment.
- Do not seek to destroy and chew on furnishings.
Cons of Adopting a Senior Dog
- Potentially higher, more frequent medical costs.
- Incontinence is on the increase as they get older.
- Sensory degradation of sight and hearing will start.
Remember — a dog is a member of your family. Re-homing dogs is difficult (and most likely traumatic for the dog), and can usually take much longer than expected.
So make sure you do your research! You know how awesome the dog-parent relationship can be when it's the right fit.
Armed with all that info, you're fully prepared to welcome a new best friend into the family. Check out the BISSELL Pet Foundation's shelter list, for over 3,000 shelters nationwide.
Ali is a lifelong dog enthusiast and is a pet parent to a Scottish Terrier named Pebbles. When Ali isn’t hanging out with Pebbles she writes at ipupster.com.
Image Credit: Pexels/Vladyslav Dukhin