Is a Puppy Right for You? Finding the Right Dog for You
Have you had a puppy crush?
Perhaps you saw a cute pug with trusting ‘love me’ eyes and it was infatuation at first sight. But before your heart rules your head and you go out and buy a puppy, paw-se for thought.
Taking on a puppy or a dog is a life-long commitment. In fact, think of it as a canine marriage contract. In sickness and in health your must love, cherish, and provide for your furry friend, no matter what the changes in your personal circumstances.
Can you commit this? Be honest with yourself as you ponder the following…
OK, so a puppy fits right in just now, but what about in 5, 10, or even 15 years’ time? Ask yourself where is your life heading and can your dog follow. Perhaps you have an ambition to go back to college or travel abroad – in which case how does a dog fit in to that plan?
The initial purchase price of the puppy is just the beginning of a big ‘hole in your pocket’. Work out for yourself if you can afford their upkeep and write down the anticipated costs. Consider monthly outgoings such as food, deworming, and parasite treatments, treats, toys and yearly costs such as vet checks, and not forgetting those one-offs such as desexing and a microchip. You must also budget for the unexpected such as accidents or ill health, so add on a monthly pet insurance premium. Finally, if your work hours are long or changed can you afford the services of pet day care or a dog walker?
The RSPCA found that the average dog owner spends about $1,600 per year on their dog.
Now, is a dog still a financially realistic proposition?
Imagine your daily routine and then fit in an extra two hours a day for dog walking, play, grooming, feeding, and the undivided attention they need.
How does this work out in the long term?
Sit on the floor and swing your arm from side to side like a Labrador’s tail. Are your antique china ornaments crashing to the ground or is yours a dog friendly room? How would you feel about sharing your space with a dog with muddy paws and occasional urinary accident?
Still an appealing prospect?
When you get in from a long hard day at work, what do you most want to do? If the answer is anything other than: Devote your dwindling energy to making a fuss of a lively dog, heading out for a walk or visiting the local park to play fetch, then don’t consider getting a dog.
Your decision to get a puppy affects other people (and pets!) in your life, so consider their feelings about a canine bombshell dropping in their midst.
Satisfy Both Head and Heart
Well done if you are honest and recognise that you have a dog-shaped heart, but a long-term commitment isn’t right just now. Don’t despair. There are ways to satisfy your longing for canine companionship by helping others.
If you are able to welcome a dog into your home, but for a limited time, then consider fostering. Many rescues or other dog welfare organisations are desperate to find temporary accommodation for animals whist they are waiting for their forever home. Or you might consider volunteering at the local rescue shelter or even pet sitting.
Finding the Right Puppy for You
Congratulations! You answered honestly and are in the happy situation of being able to satisfy your puppy love. Now all you need to do is be sure your heart doesn’t rule your head when it comes to choosing the puppy! Consider the following: Familiarity Breeds Companionship!
What role do you see the dog playing in your life? Cuddled on your lap or guarding the house? Some dogs are better suited to some roles than others so don’t chose on looks alone and read up on their character, temperament and nature.
Do your homework. For instance, if considering a large breed dog find out which breed prefers to protect and which is a gentle giant. What about health problems? Many pedigree breeds come with specific health risks, such as Cavaliers and heart problems. But if you know the risks and are still set on a particular breed, are you prepared for the vet bills and potential emotional roller coaster your choice may entail?
Purebred vs Mixed Breed
Does the dog have to be purebred at all? Mixed breed dogs have something called ‘hybrid vigour’, which means the wider gene pool of their mixed parentage gifts them better health as a general rule. Of course the downside of a mixed breed puppy is less certainty about the personality characteristics he may have inherited.
Puppy vs Adult
Yes, puppies are cute and you get to socialise the youngster from the start, but you can only guess at his adult character (and in some cases, their size). Whereas an adult comes ‘readymade’, which means you can assess their character to see if they fits in and there are no surprises with regard to their grown size.
Male vs Female
Many differences between the sexes are diluted when they are desexed. Choosing which gender is more a matter of personal preference, and indeed, your existing dog might have an opinion, for instance if they get along better with the opposite sex.
You can adopt a puppy, rehome, or buy direct from the breeder, with each option having different moral and financial implications.
But remember, one sign of a good breeder is that they check out your suitability as a prospective owner! And always see the bitch; walk away from a breeder if she’s not there, no matter how convincing the reason.
What Not to Do
And finally, when looking for your dream dog be careful whom you get them from. Do not encourage back yard breeders or puppy farms. No matter how sorry you feel for the puppy, walk away. Buying one of these puppies only feeds this hideous industry. Without buyers, these unscrupulous people would have no reason to breed. By patronising their (cold-hearted, mercenary) businesses you are condoning and encouraging the mistreatment of dogs.
Don’t go there.