You might be surprised by how many similarities there are between bringing a new puppy into your life and having your first baby. With both, for example, you can expect to deal with: their howling/crying at 3am; toilet-training; chewing/swallowing anything and everything they can get their hands on; unexpected medical emergencies; fussy eating; and ruining your favourite possessions (shoes, clothing, furniture, you name it!) if given the opportunity. Yes, comparing dogs to children may bring on some eye-rolls, but like babies, dogs need their “parents” to sacrifice money and a whole lot of time for them – not just in terms of obedience training, exercise and vet visits but also in order to provide your pup with all the attention, love and care he or she deserves. It’s important to know that adopting a dog is a 10-15 year commitment, and you should only ever go through with it if you feel 100% prepared to do so.
If you are a full-time worker, live in an apartment building or do not have a garden, definitely look into either hiring a dog-walker or enrolling your furry friend in a doggy daycare centre. If you enroll your dog in daycare as early as possible (8-10 weeks is ideal) your pup has the opportunity to learn important doggy social skills that will stay with him or her for life, setting them up to be a happy, friendly and confident K9. Here at Happy Paws, we often advise those interested to visit our store in-person before enrolling their pup in daycare. This way, new dog parents can ask our staff as many questions as they like and can ensure their pooch will be looked after in the safest, friendliest and cleanest environment possible. Hiring a dog-walker is also a great alternative, especially if your furry friend craves more attention than average. Dog-walkers generally only walk 3-4 dogs at a time, which means your pooch has the opportunity to form a special bond with their walker (as well as fulfilling their daily exercise requirements).
It’s also important to research breeds and their corresponding temperaments/health issues to decide which breed of dog would suit you and your family best. For example, if you live in a small apartment, a large, energetic dog is unlikely to be a good match – likewise, living in a tropical, warm area of the world doesn’t really go hand-in-hand with adopting a dog typically bred to live in cold, harsh climates. Additionally, we’d advise families with small children to adopt a dog of a quieter, calmer temperament – this is for the sake of both the kids and the puppy. While dogs are very rarely aggressive unless provoked, their rough play can frighten or injure small children, and ultimately you can end up with kids who are terrified of animals and the dog feeling neglected and unloved. For advice on which breeds would suit you and your household best, you can contact breeders, friends or family who own dogs, vets or animal shelters for more information. Once you’ve decided upon a breed, it might be helpful to talk to members of a “breed-related” social club in your state e.g. if you were thinking of buying a beagle, there is a Beagle Club in almost every state of Australia that you could contact for information and/or advice on the breed.
One last thing to consider: traditionally, people have bought their dogs from pet shops and breeders without very much thought or awareness of any other option. These days, however, more and more people are choosing to adopt a dog from a rescue centre or animal shelter, such as the Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA). Adopting a dog is a great alternative for several reasons: you’re actively choosing not to support the ugly industry of puppy mills (for more info, visit: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/puppies); the cost of adoption is almost always significantly lower than buying from a pet shop or breeder – the adoption fee for a dog is usually around the $300-$400 mark, and this often covers the cost of de-sexing, vaccination and micro-chipping, whereas buying can end up costing you several thousand dollars (depending on the breed) without any de-sexing, vaccination or micro-chipping; many dogs in shelters are pre-trained in obedience and toilet “etiquette”; by talking to the dedicated, experienced staff who run the shelter or rescue centre, you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the dog that’s right for you and your home; and last of all, but most importantly – tens of thousands of dogs are abandoned every year in Australia and many spend the rest of their lives in shelters. By adopting a dog, you can provide them with a safe, happy home full of unconditional love to live out the rest of their days in.
Hope this helps! Thanks for reading,
Jean (Happy Paws Fitness co-manager)