When considering a puppy, the best time for purchase is around the twelve-week mark. By this time the puppy should be fully weaned off it’s mother, and have had its first inoculations, medicated to combat Whip, Hook, Tape and roundworms and show no signs of fleas.
The first few weeks in your new home will include feeding your pup four times a day, and of course potty training.
If you opt for an older dog, be prepared to work overtime to establish a solid relationship. This is particularly important if the dog has been badly treated in the past and has built up a mistrust of people. If possible, have the dog examined by a vet before becoming to involved. Credible places like the Lost Dogs Home and Lort Smith Animal Hospital do many series of temperament testing on animals before re-housing. Sadly if they don’t meet the requirements of a well-adjusted animal, then they are put down.
My own experience re-housing a six-month-old abused german shepherd
I personally took on another persons neglected dog. It was a German Shepherd of 6 months old. This dog was a pure bred dog, and the abuse it endured psychologically scarred him. When the Local Ranger and I were called out to the house (after neighbours reporting what they saw) I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see. The dog was housed in a crate with no roof and it measured 1 and a half meters square. The dog was also chained, and due to pulling at the chain around its neck, it was lodged into the neck so far in, it had to be surgically removed and stitched right round its neck. It was so infested with fleas that it required many flea bath treatments and skin creams, as it had hardly any hair left on what should have been a long coat dog.
My Bear, happier than everHe was lucky to get water, when it rained or the neighbours turned the hose on him, and as for food, he wasn’t given a bone or a bowl of food daily as he should have. He was lucky to get a meal a week. I was told by the Ranger he would have to be put down, but then I begged him to let me take the dog and see what could be done. It took a lot of convincing, and many many months of rehabilitation.
After his stitches were removed around his neck, it was time for a collar. Every time I tried to attach the lead to the collar, he was pulling at it with his teeth, as to him, he thought he was going to be chained to a wall and live in a box again. Bear was his name and destruction was his game. He destroyed everything in my back yard, even in one night pulling a complete 6 seated wooden chair and table set apart. I had to spoon feed him until he learnt to eat out of a bowl. You are probably wondering why I persevered.
He was such a magnificent dog, and as a vet nurse, I knew I had the patience and training to break down the barriers.
Then one day, we set off for our regular walk in the park. He was doing fine, but then the old Bear appeared, when he started to pull at the collar and lead. He pulled so hard at it, it was cutting into my hands and I had no choice other than to let go. I was so angry at him but didn’t realize why he behaved like that, after many months of being good. Behind me, about a meter away on the ground was a red-bellied black snake. I was heading straight for it and never would have seen it, but he knew it was there. He ran at the snake, and bit it in the middle then ferociously shook his head so that the tail broke off and flew one way and the head broke off and flew the other, leaving him with the middle of the animal still in his mouth. That day, he earned his position in our house and I never had another problem with him until he had to be put down after being diagnosed with cancer.
Older dogs can be a treat as I have just explained, but you seriously must be prepared to put in the long hard yards, as you really have know idea about their past experience and how deeply they were affected by it.
In the case of children, they may be good with your dog, but your new “older dog” won’t necessarily reciprocate their affection particularly if it has been mistreated in the past. In fact, your new pet may have a positive dislike of children and may even dislike a particular gender, racial colour, dress sense, or personal odour or perfume.
Bear for some reason, never liked the look of dark skinned people. He would growl at them and misbehave on the lead. Obviously I never knew why he had this problem, but it most definitely came from his past.
It does make sense to buy an older dog with a reliable medical history from a shelter. It will have been vaccinated, toilet trained and perhaps, desexed and microchipped and temperament tested. Great savings to be had.
MALE VERSUS FEMALE
DESEXING YES OR NO???
Desexed females make the best pets, they tend to stay at home and are less trouble. Desexing contrary to old wives tales does not alter the dogs personality, nor does it cause it to gain fat. Dogs which get fat do so because desexing at six months of age often coincides with the end of a dogs growth period. Hence food, previously channeled into the growth of the dog, becomes surplus and is laid down as fat. Therefore the diet of a six month old dog, desexed or not, should be restricted. Reduction of food intake should be the rule in dogs of all breeds once they reach six months.
Don’t forget, it is humans that domesticated them. Think of pack dogs, like wolves and dingo’s, you never see a fat one because they can go days without food. This is why, I always recommend a balanced diet where your dog still has to work for their food and it doesn’t come always easily.
The first day, perhaps give them a tin, the second day only bones. The bones they will gnaw away at for hours and this stimulates the gums and keeps the teeth clean.
The third day can be dry food, and then again just bones. Your dog wont starve. This is the routine I use for my dogs and they have never had any problems with weight or their teeth. Try and get the rib bones or neck bones that the dogs can eat all of. Whilst marrow bones are good, they cant be consumed. Once the marrow has been extracted, you will find your dog will loose interest. However the Rib and neck bones, they can chew at for hours, days in fact and it will fill them up. Everything in moderation and always give variety.
The same advice for cats. Just use chicken necks instead, and chicken giblets. They are so tough, again the gnawing action will keep their teeth and gums healthy. Always remember to have ample water available and if you can, change it twice daily.
In my opinion, if you aren’t a registered breeder, desex your pet and do it before they become sexually aware at 6 months of age. A sexually active dog will do everything and anything to try and mate. Undesexed bitches more often develop infected wombs and tumors of the mammary glands. They also come into heat every six months on average and can follow this with a false pregnancy. All these conditions are harmful to the dogs health and cause unnecessary veterinary expense. The only argument against desexing bitches is that a very small percentage suffer from urinary incontinence in later life. But this can be remedied. Male dogs unless intended for breeding, should be castrated at six months and will then make good pets. Non Castrated male dogs like to wander around the neighbourhood in search of females to mate with. This can last several days and while so pre occupied, the dog is neither a pet nor a watch dog. The roaming dog also is more prone to car accidents and dog fights which can find them doing time in the local pound and you having a costly bill to bail him or her out. Apart from the worry that these escapades cause the owner, they also cost a lot of money.
In addition, male dogs have such undesirable traits as “riding” young children or the outstretched leg of you or your visitors. Whilst doing this activity, they also seem to have bottomless bladders. They can end up letting go of their bladders whilst riding, but also when marking there territory as a means to deter other dogs from their property. Both dogs and cats that aren’t desexed “spray” and you may not know about it, until after they have been spraying in the same spot a few times. Once that smell gets into the carpet fibres or furniture, it becomes virtually impossible to get rid of. Be prepared to rip up the carpet or toss out that favourite lounge suite.
In conclusion, if you own a dog or cat in a suburban area, it is kindest and best for you in the long run if you desex the animal.
NEXT TIME [ARTICLE #3 ] BREED SELECTION