How to Adapt to Owning Dogs
© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.
Things to Consider First
So, you're thinking about adding a dog to your family, but you're not sure where to start. Do you want that puppy you saw at the pet store, the one with the cute, pink bow in her hair? Or, do you want to go back to the animal shelter and save that sweet, 3 year-old German Shepherd before he has to be put to sleep?
However, before you make a final decision, there are some things you need to consider first:
- Owning a dog costs money. Aside from the fact they need to eat, there are many other expenses, including grooming costs, veterinary care, flea treatments, dog treats, toys, and dog licensing.
- Dogs are like children. They have to be potty-trained. They make messes and tear things up. They love to chew on things.
- Time, time, and more time. Dogs require a great deal of attention. They need regular exercise, whether it be playing catch, tug-of-war, or going for walks.
- What type of dog will fit best with your family. If you have small children, you might want to consider getting a larger, more durable dog. I do not think small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, adapt well to little kids.
I believe that if you want ultimate success in dog ownership, then you need to start from scratch with a brand new puppy. The reason this fact brings success is because your puppy will never have a chance to adjust to any other family except yours. I have been housing rescue dogs and strays most of my life, and as cute and adorable as some of these canines are, sometimes their previous living environments and training (or lack of) can bring bad habits that are difficult to break. However, I have seen rescue dogs turn out to be great pets, too.
Getting to Know Your Dog
When you first bring your dog home, it might take some time to get to know your dog. Every dog is different when it comes to their mannerisms. Like humans, dogs need time to adapt to their environment and the people (and other animals) around them, especially right after they have been separated from their mother or a previous owner.
Dogs have various ways of communicating with you. My dog, Lucky, has never been one to go to the door to let me know he needs to go outside. He will stand as close to me as he can, with imploring eyes, to let me know he needs to "hike a leg". Only time will reveal how your dog is going to respond to you. Until then, be consistent with feeding times and let your dog out often to prevent accidents in the house.
Dogs love to play, and you may find your dog will prefer a ball over playing tug-of-war. Some dogs love to wrestle and play rough. Your dog will let you know what he prefers quickly.
Playtime is Good Exercise for Dogs
Heavy duty ball for your dog to chase.
Tips to Remember
Here are a few suggestions to help you and your dog transition well.
- Touch your puppy frequently! Learn how to groom him, trim his nails, and bathe him. Take him for short, frequent walks on his leash. The sooner you adjust your puppy to certain behaviors, the easier it is to complete these tasks when he grows larger and becomes stronger. For example, I always touched my dogs' paws and massaged the inside of the paw pads gently with my finger. Because of this, they do not resist me when I trim their nails, which I do every week.
- Obedience training is a must! You want your dog to behave and follow basic commands such as "Come" or "Sit" or "Shake." Not all people aspire to be dog people. Dogs speak a language all their own, and just as you have to learn Spanish to communicate in Mexico, you also need to learn the language of a dog. Not all aspects about dogs are the same. You are never going to get the perfect dog that learned every trick in the book in two seconds. But, you will have a dog who loves you unconditionally and will stay by your side. Obedience training will determine whether your dog can stay with you off a leash while out for a walk or if you will have to chase him in your car until he finally wears himself out! I have a dog who is 6 years old, and I have had him since he was 6 weeks old. I have never been able to train him to speak. He only barks when someone knocks on the door or I tell him we are going for a ride. He never learned to go to the door when he has to go outside. Instead, he sits right in front of me and stares me down until I figure out what he wants. I have, however, taught him to shake, beg, lay down, roll over, and he also knows the word "out."
- Puppies need to chew! Puppies are no different than human babies, they teethe and their baby teethe fall out. Dogs need their own toys to play with and chew on. This is handy when you catch your dog chewing on your favorite shoe because you can tell your puppy "no" and distract him with his own toys, which he already knows he can chew on. My dog chewed everything up, so he had to be crate trained. He did not finally stop chewing things until he was 2 1/2 years old. Rawhides are an excellent choice for teething puppies.
- My dog is doing what? I know this tip is a little bit off the hook, but dogs hump. Dogs do not decipher the difference between girl and boy. When a dog attaches himself to another dog, he loves that other dog. And if you learn more about dogs, you will find out that dogs do many other things to each other like keep each others' ears and faces clean. And dogs like to hump. Especially males dogs! If they are not fixed, it is worse. As Bob Barker said, "Get your pet spade or neutered..."
Keep fleas and ticks away.