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How To Choose The Perfect Pet
The sad Forlorn look of a Boxer
Choosing a Dog
A few years ago my wife and I decided that we should get a pet. We thought about both cats and dogs. Over the course of two years I read and listened to many accounts about the best breed of dogs to own. Many breeds were spoken of such as: Labs, Retrievers, various Terrier breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier, and the Boxer. I have known two people who owned Boxers and the vote was unanimous, Boxers are great loving dogs that are gentle with children (we have two) but they are notorious for noxious farts. That’s right the infamous silent but violent fart or the whispering winds as some might say.
In researching breeds I discovered that Labs, Retrievers, and terriers had a few instances of child snapping, they had snapped at a child and sometimes completely bit them. I don’t know if it is or was because of the child harassing the animal or what the case may have been, but I knew that I didn’t want to take a chance. Though they have notorious gas, I settled on the Boxer. After this conclusion I searched the internet for a dedicated Boxer site. I learned a great deal of the breed from this website.
I am by no means a sentimental guy or a “how cute” kind of guy either but I saw a picture of a Boxer puppy and instantly fell in love with the “look” of the breed. I had known that some Boxers have their ears clipped as well as their tails docked. I don’t like the look of the ears being pointy. This particular puppy had the floppy ears and a sad forlorn look on its face. I printed it out to show my wife.
That was all it took, that week we found a breeder. The breeder we spoke to had six puppies ready for adoption, two males and four females. The males cost $350.00 and the females were worth $400.00. We took $500.00 with us so after picking out the puppy we could go to PetSmart and purchase some supplies. We drove for an hour and a half to get to the breeder and when we pulled up the breeder was standing there waiting for us.
With introductions out of the way she led us to the holding pin for her dogs. Wouldn’t you know it; our dog was waiting at the fence for us. He was fawn in color with white socks on all his feet, white all over his belly and up his chest, and a black mask of a face. The wrinkles all over his face reminded me of a beloved stuffed pound puppy I had as a child. With the gate open just enough for him to squeeze out of he escaped, but he wasn’t going anywhere but into the awaiting arms of my wife. She scooped him up and held him close to her bosom; the children surrounded her while lavishing the puppy with affectionate petting all within about ten seconds of the gate coming open. I just stood there waiting to see what would happen.
The breeder closed the gate of the pin because she knew what had happened. That day I learned that people do not pick their pets, the pets pick their people. That dog somehow knew that we were coming and that we would need him in our lives. We paid our $350, discussed papers with AKC, signed an agreement, and left. The deed was done, we owned a pure bred Boxer. Now we just needed to get supplies for him. Off to PetSmart we went.
The thing I like the most about PetSmart is that you can bring you pet into the store. So we bundled up the puppy in my youngest daughter’s baby blanket and took the entire family into PetSmart. Another thing I like about the store is the people it employs. I think a prerequisite to working at PetSmart is that you have to love animals. Now you would have thought that “Chewy” (our puppy) was the Grand Marshal at a hometown parade with as much attention he was getting from everyone in the store. Not just the employees but the customers too. Everyone was commenting on how cute he was.
In reading on the internet about dog ownership I learned of the incredible responsibility it is to feed and train a puppy. So we bought puppy food, chew toys, treats, toys, a doggy bed, a collar, a leash, a pooper scooper, and considered purchasing a kennel for him but we both agreed that it was not necessary. We paid for our purchases and left the store with a couple of free treats. Doggy popcorn is what they called the treat; some are flavored with peanut butter, which was what we had. I read that you should give treats freely frequently when the puppy is little so they acquire a taste for them and then do tricks for them later on. So I sat Chewy down in the grass to let him do toilet (number 1 thankfully, otherwise I would have had to clean up the other) and then rewarded him with a treat. Back in the car he snuggled in behind my youngest daughter’s car seat and then we drove home.
Once we got back to our house the training started, not just the dog but the family too. I took Chewy around the yard to show him the boundaries of his territory, where I wanted him to poop, then took him inside the house. Inside I showed him where his bed had been set-up and around the rest of the downstairs. Then we all gathered around and played with him. Each time he started to sniff around we knew he needed to go potty, so we took him outside. When he fell asleep we put him in his bed and covered him up with the baby blanket he knew best, it had our scent on it and supposedly calms them down when they wake up in a new place.
It went on like this for a week. We played, we watched him for potty hints, and we started training him.
A great way to train a dog to sit is early on in their life, first you have to have the puppy’s attention. You can do this by placing a leg on each side of him and sitting in front of the puppy or you can kneel in front of the puppy. Either way will work fine. Point your index finger at him to draw their eyes to it then slowly raise your finger. The puppy will continue looking at your finger until his rear end hits the floor. We did this with him for about a week without treats; he learned the message, the action of the finger going up means to sit. Then we started to say “Sit” while moving our finger up so he could learn that the command “Sit” means to sit, giving him treats then as he did it and awarding him with treats.
I do not recommend spending too much time at once doing this. The puppy will get bored and you may get angry. Do it throughout the day, come up to the puppy, get on their level, and give them the command and action associated with it. Do not treat them every time, this will cause them to either lose interest in the treats or expect the treat each time. Do, however, shower them with affection every time they do it. A treat to a dog is great. It tastes good and fills up their belly. But, a lot of affection is every dog’s inherent need. In my personal opinion I think that you have to make associations of affection with everything your pet does.
Leash training can be a very irritating thing for pet owners. The Boxer breed was bred for game bird hunting; they can master that easily enough. A trait specifically related to the hunting dog is their watchfulness of where their master is. I had been trying to train Chewy for the leash from the time he was three months old. We couldn’t go very far and most walks I ended up carrying him home. So in the beginning I had no trouble keeping control of him. He walked by my side, which incidentally was more like a fast trot for him. I made that mistake, he learned that he should trot or run on a walk instead of walk. He soon had me running and pulling to keep him under control. I thought about a choker collar but that seemed a little cruel to me. Where I lived we had an area that was not developed but had a dirt road which led to a small pond where people often fished. I would take him to this area, which was about a mile stretch of dirt road, and take him off his leash.
Of course when I did he bolted, and when he did I hid. He ran to the bend in the road, stopped, turned around, and when he didn’t see me he came running back. When he got back to me I scolded him. We would walk together, he would run ahead of me and I would hide. We did this many times and the amount of times he would run ahead of me lessened each time we walked. Eventually I couldn’t hide before he figured it out. Soon I was able to keep him at my side while we walked. I still had to leash him around people because he is a people dog. He loves people, and he gets very excited. The ironic thing about my leash training experience is that I leash trained my dog by taking the leash off. I had a large, mostly deserted area to do this, if you do not have that please don’t try this. I also don’t know if that will work on any other breed.
In conclusion, remember that dogs choose you, training starts when the puppy is very young (6-8 weeks), never scold a dog for not doing the trick but do award them for doing it. If you have a spouse and are considering getting a dog, talk about all aspects of pet ownership with your spouse. Does the dog get to be on the couch or the bed, what do we train them to do, and etc?