Saturday, 11 July 2009

Before You Buy That Puppy

"How much is that doggy in the window, the one with the waggly tail...?" Familiar words to an old tune suggests that many people at one time or another consider having a dog as a pet. They might have fond memories of the old Boxer or Cairn terrier that they grew up with. Maybe it was a good-natured mutt or even a neighbor's well-behaved German Shepherd. Some folks imagine owning a beautiful and heroic dog such as "Lassie" of book and screen fame.

Often, the reality is that many pups purchased on impulse wind up in shelters or banned to a chain in the garden because they didn't measure up to the dream. This is written to help you consider the answers to the questions you should ask before buying that cute little puppy.

Are you ready for a life long commitment to responsible dog ownership? Let's think through and visualize what dog ownership is really like. It is fun to imagine walking an obedient dog on a beautiful day, but remember, the same dog will need walking when its hot, cold, raining or icy out. The "Obedient" part will take time and effort. In deciding whether a dog will fit into your lifestyle, the biggest consideration in the long run will be "Do you have the TIME it takes to own a dog?

Dogs needs:

Puppies and adult dogs have daily needs. The basics are shelter, food and water, grooming, health care, training, exercise and social interaction. The earlier in life you start teaching a pup what is expected of it the better, but the more it has to learn. With an older dog, there may be some bad habits they'll have to 'unlearn'. Early social experiences set the tone for a dog's development into a dependable companion or a destructive nuisance.


Socialization Puppy Training (9-18 weeks.) will certainly mold the pup during its most impressionable period and helps provide an environment for learning positive associations with new people, places, experiences and other dogs. Patterns are set for life in these formative weeks. However it is essential that young dogs from 4 months to one year attend training classes.


Besides training, there are other expenses incurred with dog ownership. After the initial purchase, the biggest portion will go toward veterinary and feeding bills. A high quality food costs more 'per bag' but is very cost effective in terms of better health and food efficiency (you feed less). Veterinary start-up costs, including immunizations and worming, Microchips are also required by law for identification is not cheap. Neutering and spaying usually takes place around 6 months. Semi-annual vet visits, heartworm testing and preventative medications, unexpected illnesses or accidents all add up! Then there is the control of internal and external parasites to consider (worms, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and mites etc.)

Grooming requires the proper tools to care for coat, ears, teeth, and nails. (For some breeds, there is the additional expense of a professional groomer 8-9 times a year.) Microchips are also required by law for identification.


Do not make the drastic mistake of choosing a breed solely on its 'looks'. Although this is one consideration, the temperament, size, activity level and coat care are even more important considerations. Unfortunately a pup is sometimes chosen impulsively because it looked like a 'cute little teddy bear' and then the teddy grows up to me more like a 'grizzly' because the breed is a type bred for high levels of aggression. Or a pup may prove to have an energy level that requires more exercise and attention than can be provided.

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