By: Alistair Fernandes, The Dogfather Training Services
Some of the greatest moments in life include the day we met our pets for the first time or the day we adopted them and they came home with us. Here are ten things to consider before bringing a new dog home.
#1 CAN YOU COMMIT?
Before bringing in a dog, you need to evaluate your circumstances and consider if you’ll be able to walk your dog three times a day or
exercise him/her every evening and spend quality time with your new pet. If the answer is no, and you have no one who can perform these essential tasks, you should stop right here and consider a fish or a parakeet as they are low-demand animal companions.
#2 WILL YOUR PET
FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE?
Choosing a pet based on how popular or cute it is, is probably one of the worst decisions people make. Too often these pets are dropped at an animal shelter when they show themselves to be highly energetic, too needy, too intolerant, too dependent … the list is endless.
It is essential to get to know the breed you are interested in and keep your options open,
in case it doesn’t suit your lifestyle and capability to provide for the pet. Before deciding upon a particular breed, ask loads of breed specific questions about the dog. You can also go ahead and join an online group or forum to gain maximum knowledge about your prospective pet. A great example is the Labrador craze. Sure, they’re adorable and cute, but the catch is that they are highly energetic dogs and people fail to help them release that amount of energy resulting in the creation of a dog that is hyper and frustrated because he’s not able to vent it out or channelize it properly.
#3 INTERVIEW VETERINARIANS BEFORE THE ADOPTION
Before you have settled on the type of pet most likely to suit your lifestyle, ask your friends for their veterinary recommendations. A veterinarian can impart a wealth of knowledge and guide you accordingly; thereby enabling you to make the right selection of pet that will go a long way in benefitting you and your furbuddy. Not all vets are good. Thus it is critical for you to invest proper time and conduct research on finding one as per your requirements. Your relationship with a veterinarian is likely to last a lifetime and as such, the choice is significant. Read online reviews of the vets in your community, ask groomers, trainers in your area who they recommend, and make appointments with them.
Our tip: Don’t rely entirely on a vet’s friendliness toward humans (i.e., you). A good veterinarian relates better to animals than people. It is also your right to ask the vet to provide a few references.
#4 MAKE YOUR
Did you know that something as simple as chewing gum can be deadly for dogs, or that ibuprofen is toxic to cats? It is essential for you to inspect your entire home before bringing in the new pet. You might come across certain hazardous stuff which includes cabinets at pet level, counter tops, bottles of chemical on the floor, small toys, electric cords and curtain cords. In addition to this, you will also need to check your home and its surroundings for toxic plants.
#5 CHOOSE AN AGE AND BREED APPROPRIATE FOOD
Not all pet foods are alike. Some are better than others; while many go on to make claims that aren’t always backed by facts. The easiest thing would be to grab just about any bag containing pet food with the flashiest advertising and get going. However, this won’t guarantee your pets’ long term health. Choose the best food for your pet and always check for the label. Go in for a complete and balanced diet for your pets which must meet the specific parameters based on their particular needs such as lifestyle, life stage and activity level. It is advisable to carry out your own research to get an idea about why it is important and what to look for, but you must also consult your veterinarian and others who have the same breed to know what food works well. Home food is widely accepted by most families who don’t mind putting in the effort and time required to cook for the pet. But one needs to acknowledge that it is essential to read up what foods can and cannot be given to the animal.
#6 BE PREPARED FOR AN ADJUSTMENT PERIOD
If it’s a puppy you’ll be adopting into your home, be prepared to cry. Yes, just as it is with human babies, baby dogs cry at night during the first few days in their new home. But unlike human babies, it is not a good idea to take your puppy to your bed to soothe him. The best thing you can do before bringing the puppy home is set up a quiet, enclosed space with a comfortable bed, or a kennel that can be closed, keeping your puppy from wandering. Choose the location that will be your dog’s permanent spot. During the day, let your puppy have free, supervised privileges to roam around the house and smell everything. This will also be a good way to spot any hazards you might have missed on the first go. Things get a little bit trickier when you are bringing another pet to a home that already has pets. You will need to make sure that your resident pet does not feel threatened enough to strike out at the newcomer.
#7 TRAIN YOUR PET
If your happy home is going to remain a happy home, the pet’s home training routine will need to start immediately after bringing him/her home. If it is a puppy, leash him up and take him outside to start getting to know his neighborhood (provided all vaccinations are complete). Most puppies will be intimidated by their new surroundings, and you don’t want to frighten your puppy. Take him out for a short walk on the first outing (ensure he doesn’t chew off the ground).When the puppy relieves himself outside; while he is doing it use the “praise and reward” technique. Repetition of this technique will eventually enable your dog to form a habit so that you can take your dog out in any weather without worrying about how long your dog will take to relieve himself. Engage in a reliable trainer before getting the pet home, have a counselling session with him and check how good he is in educating you along with the pet.
#8 SELECT APPROPRIATE PET TREATS AND TOYS
Giving the right treats is essential, especially for puppies. Treats are one of the best tools for behavior training when used sensibly. Experiment with a few different dog treats and stick with the one that has the highest value for your puppy. This will be the treat for which your pooch will do anything, including staying by your side even when a clowder of cats goes by. Stay practical when giving treats. It is tempting to be liberal when it comes to treating our little babies and just like giving candy to a human child, too many snacks can lead to an unhealthy body; even healthy snacks can add up to excess weight. Do always keep a bag of treats in your pocket for training opportunities. Be careful with rawhide as it can be torn to pieces and swallowed in large chunks, potentially leading to choking or intestinal blockages. Toys should be free of all kinds of buttons, strings, and anything that can be bitten or swallowed. Stick with rubber balls made for dogs (they are harder to tear apart), nylon-bones, non-toxic stuffed toys, and ask other dog parents for advice on toys that hold up under puppy pressure.
#9 CONSIDER SPAYING AND NEUTERING
Neutering, a term that can refer to spay or castration surgery, can typically be done as early as eight weeks of age. Generally, the neutering procedure is performed when the dog is around four to six months old. But we recommend post 9-12 months for males and post the first menstrual cycle for females unless you have adopted the pet and it comes with a neutering clause. Some people choose not to get their pets neutered based on the feeling that the animal will lose its sense of identity (male) or will be missing out on the life milestone of giving birth (female) or that the animal will lose its ability to be protective. None of these reasons are based on fact.
The best thing you can do for your pet’s health is to have him or her neutered. Yes, neutering does decrease aggression in most instances, but it does not make a dog any less protective of his or her human family. And your female pet will not feel less-than for not giving birth. It would be worse for her to have her babies taken from her than to have never given birth at all. She will not know the difference. She will also be less prone to cancer of the mammary glands and ovaries. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.
#10 TAG YOUR PET WITH PROPER ID
Finally, ensure that your puppy is properly tagged so that if he/she should ever get loose —which does happen with mostly everyone eventually — you will have him returned safely to you. Have your contact information on your pet’s collar, either on a tag or printed directly onto the collar (the latter can be custom ordered or made by you). Also, keep photos at hand. This is good for not only tracking your pet’s growth, but you may need those images if the time comes to post them around town or to leave with the local shelter in case your pet is delivered to them. A GPS device that attaches to the collar is a clever way to track your pet, but it loses its efficacy when the collar gets lost.
Apart from the above mentioned tips it is important to be patient with your dog at all times as he would love you more than anyone else in this world and that too UNCONDITIONALLY ! The least you could do is never give up on your pets.
Alistair Fernandes is the Founder of The Dogfather Training Services and an accomplished dog trainer from Mumbai.