Now you know what breed or type of dog. Now you need to decide between a puppy or adopting a mature rescued dog.
Puppies give back everything they get. No deposit, No return.
If your family includes youngsters, then they have undoubtedly been begging for a puppy. A puppy in the family is a joyful experience that your children will remember long after they have forgotten the promises they made to “do all the work”.
Your puppy will need to be trained so that they learn the boundaries, the do’s and don’ts’ of your household. Think repetition and consistency with puppy training.
You will need to socialize them with other people and animals so that they feel comfortable in new and different situations. Puppies like children have many stages of development before becoming the “adult” friend you may be looking for. Training and socialization doesn’t end after the intro puppy class. Many often forget that a child exposed to a different language as a toddler will forget it if they don’t hear or use it again. The same can be said for “dog language”. Don’t forget to keep the learning going through the equivalent “teenage” years.
Remember this is a commitment for a decade or more, and your dog will need to be able to handle life’s changes with you.
They’ll need lots of safe exercise and play so that their body develops properly, and diet is very important at all stages but especially during early growth and development. Remember a young dog will eat more often during the day until they are old enough to have only maybe only two meals a day.
As your puppy develops you will gather wonderfully comical tales to share at dinner parties about what your puppy
- tried to eat,
- did eat,
and the general mess they made.
But be prepared. Our human children and our fur baby’s have both been the cause of many a distressed moan of “this is why we can’t have nice things”, 🙂
Unless adopting a puppy from a breeder, the size and health of your puppy could be a surprise.
Puppies who are available for adoption through shelters and rescue organizations sometimes offer additional challenges because they come from less-than-ideal situations. Chances are good that their parents were not screened for inherited health or temperament problems, or that optimum pre-natal or post-natal care was provided for mama dog and her pups. Shelter and rescue puppies may have been taken from their mothers at too young an age for optimal emotional development. Veterinary attention may have been lacking prior to the pup’s coming into the shelter or rescue group. Responsible shelters and rescue groups provide medical care, treatment for parasites, and vaccinations against infectious disease when appropriate; however, sometimes adopted puppies don’t show signs of illness until they move to their new home.
We aren’t saying only deal with purebreds, absolutely not. In fact here at the dog hotel we are definitively in support of rescuing and almost all of us here have a member of our family who started out as a rescue, many of them puppies. But you do need to be aware that even a young puppy has a history, and you may need to give them some extra care to make up for it.
They ended up in a shelter once, don’t make it a second visit.
Purebred or mixed breed, you can’t always predict how the puppy you adopt will mature. If you adopt a puppy, make sure you’re ready to accept them as an adult, no matter how they turn out.
Adult and Senior Dogs Can be Great for First-Time Dog Parents
If this is your first dog, or if you cannot devote the time necessary to train, socialize, and exercise a young or adolescent puppy properly, an adult dog could be a better option for you. If you’re not sure, talk to people who are currently raising puppies or have done so recently to get a realistic picture of what it’s like. If dealing with puppy pee on the carpet and needle-sharp teeth for months on end sounds like too much chaos for your taste, then consider an adult.
You Know What You’re Getting with an Adult or Senior Dog …..well sort of!
When you choose an adult dog, you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting. You can see their physical traits (size and coat appearance) and get some idea of their basic temperament and energy levels.
But please remember dogs in shelters and dogs newly in rescue foster homes may not always show their true personality right away, question and look for feedback on how much the caregivers at the shelter or the foster family have been able to determine about the behavior of the dog. When you walk through the shelter or visit them at their temporary home they don’t always know how to “sell” themselves or that they need to. Talk to those that have been able to get to know them about what they are like when outside of the cage and if possible a little about where they came from. A behaviorally sound dog will improve and blossom once settled into your loving home.
Adult and Senior Dogs Will Love You as Much as a Puppy
If you are concerned that an older dog won’t bond to you, don’t be. Dogs are remarkably resilient and open-hearted. Some completely overcome their pasts in a matter of days; others may take a few weeks or months, and a few will carry a little baggage for even longer than that. Working with your adopted dog to help them overcome any hurdles necessary to enjoy their new life can be an incredibly rewarding experience — and result in a long-term, loving relationship.
We have a dear friend and client here at the Pet Hotel who has religiously rescued seniors, the dogs that no one else seemingly wants. He provides the loving home and family that they have either never experienced or may have had when younger, but circumstances conspired to try and deny that to them in their retirement. He is one of the most kind hearted and emotionally strong gentlemen we know, and Lulu, Tommy, Sasha and the countless others who will one day experience his kindness have repaid him with their unconditional love and gratitude.
The long and the short of it, is that there is a canine friend out there for everybody and every family. Whether it is a puppy, mature or even senior dog who becomes a member of your family, think long and hard, avoid the absolute “can’t do” and then follow your heart after that.
In our next installment we will talk about what to look for in a breeder and what exactly is the definition of a “puppy mill”.
Jenn Dahinten has been involved in health and pet care for over 25 years and is currently a part of the caring team at The Royal Pets Hotel & Spa, a 5 star Pet Hotel just north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario.