As a Former Veterinary Nurse with over 15 years experience under my belt, I think I am more than qualified to add the odd article to this section. Many times over the years my friends have called me day and night with questions, about “Pet Care”. So lets start with all the basics.
There’s a whole lot more to choosing a dog than simply walking into the pet shop or pound and picking up the pup with the cutest expression.
True dog lovers first will have delved into some of the following questions such as the pup’s family history, daily cost to feed the dog, the amount of backyard it will require, whether it will be indoor, outdoor or both, how much exercise it will require, the annual costs associated with veterinary maintenance etc etc.
So much to think of, but sadly the average Joe out there buys on looks without thinking about the consequences of the purchase associated with the inevitable trials and traumas that lie ahead.
WHEN TO BUY
The average life of a dog is about 15 years, a short span compared with our own. Ideally, the family puppy should be acquired when your eldest child is about five years old so it can provide companionship until the children leave home or change their lifestyles late in their teens.
At five, the child is strong enough to be resilient to a boisterous young pup, keeping in mind that the pup will grow fast, reaching full height and weight at seven months.
Some common breeds like Labradors weigh about 25kg when fully grown. When this weight is running at you at high speed and you are smaller than a five year old, you can cop quite a hit. I have seen children with broken bones from a playful puppy at say 25kg.
The second most popular time to buy a dog is when the parents need a companion after their children have left home and the original family pet has passed on.
Even if you don’t want to wait until you have completed your family, do not get a dog until after your first child is born. Naturally tremendous affection is bestowed on the new baby and if the dog was in the family first, you can end up with a very jealous pet on your hands.
In this situation make an extra effort to show affection to the dog. Let it know it is still important to the family and don’t suddenly relegate it from the number one spot on the lounge to the backyard. It has feelings too.
Subsequent children are not psychologically disturbing to our canine friends, because by this stage some semblance of human-canine pecking order has been established. Again ideally, you should try to assess your movements over the next 15 years before taking responsibility for a pet.
If you know that you are going overseas for a long stay, or that your employment will mean lengthy periods of separation it is not wise to have a dog. You are the master of your pets destiny. It depends on you for its psychological and physical well being. The Australian municipal dog pounds are ample testimony to the number of dogs that are dumped – it’s a shame people don’t think it through first.
Finding the right dog is going to take time on your part, not every dog is a match to every family. By studying a wide variety of breeds before you even set foot in a pet shop, shelter or pound should assist you to make a more educated guess as to what type of dog will work for you and your family’s lifestyle.
SHOULD I CONSIDER A SHELTER
Most pounds and shelters are full of excellent, but misunderstood dogs. By misunderstood, I mean most dogs are in the pound because they had owners who could not speak dog. These owners who didn’t give the dog what it instinctually needed created a dog with issues. The two main reasons a dog develops issues are lack of exercise and lack of leadership.
Humans forget they are dealing with a canine animal and too many times do not give the canine what it needs as that animal; when the dog does not act like that picture-perfect image they had in their minds they assume they “didn’t get a good one” and they “get rid” of the dog. That’s the bad news.
The good news is since dogs live in the moment—meaning they do not dwell in the past or think of the future—it is absolutely possible to take a full grown dog and start over as if it is the first day of the rest of its life. If you do it right, you will see a totally different dog from the owners who dumped the dog at the pound saw.
NEXT TIME [ARTICLE #2] Considerations before Purchase