September is a time of maturing. The heat begins to give way to cool autumn breezes, the leaves on the tops of trees burst out in cinnamon, gold, orange and brown colors as the lush green of summer fades. Schools are back in session, returning many to the rhythmic daily motion that took its hiatus with summer vacations. Students rise to the challenges of a new, more difficult year. It won’t be long before the scent of coffee in the morning is mixed with pumpkin, and you wake before the lazy sun. Winslow Animal Hospital Pet-Parents will be getting ready for our annual Blessing of the Pets event on October 4, 2018.
September is also Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Winslow Animal Hospital is bringing you a series filled with advice so you can be the best dog owner possible.
Today’s topic is getting a new dog! If you are thinking about getting a dog sometime this year, or if you have a dog already, there are some things to consider to be a responsible owner. Here are some steps to consider when bringing an animal into your life.
- Recognize the Commitment
Owning a dog is huge. You are accepting a new family member into your life, and there is a lot of physical, mental, and emotional work that goes into that, along with a financial commitment of food, bedding, toys, & veterinary care. Before you get a dog, sincerely consider whether your home is right for the dog.
2. Consider Lifestyle
A dog will become a big part of your life. What traits do you need in a new furry friend? Are you athletic? You might not be as happy with a low-energy dog. Are you neat and tidy? A dog that sheds might be irritating to you. Think of hobbies, personalities, work & school schedules, and whatever other aspects of your life might be right for a particular dog.
3. Choose a Breed
When you have considered the kinds of needs you have based on your own life, it’s time to look at which breeds will match your family’s needs. Do you want a dog to cuddle on your lap while you watch TV, or a big dog? Do you need a dog that is great with children, or will your dog only be around adults anyway? If you rent your home, are their rules about what kinds of dog you may have? Do some research to determine which breeds will fit your family’s needs. Don’t forget that mutts are sometimes the most amazing dogs around!
4. Ask Around & Look at Shelters
When you know which breeds are a good fit for you, it’s time to find one who needs a home! Word-of-mouth and social media may help you find what you’re looking for, but always be cautious. Looking at Shelters is a great way to go, because you don’t just get a new family member you want; you give a home to a great dog who needs one.
If you are unable to find the dog you need at a shelter, get in touch with breeders in your area. Let them know that you are interested in their breed, and demonstrate that you would be a good fit for their puppy, too. Even if that breeder does not have available puppies, they may know another breeder in the region. This is a big decision, not one to make quickly.
5. Be Prepared to Ask & Answer Questions
Good questions bring out the most important information. A good, responsible breeder will ask you questions to make sure you are the right fit for their dog. They are as committed to the well-being of the dog as you are. And they are usually very knowledgeable about that breed, so ask as many questions about the breed as you can think of, including questions about health problems with the breed, what kind of activities the breeder’s dogs enjoy, etc. Consider your breeder’s input about which puppy is right for you, and whether you go with a puppy or rescue an older dog, ask your contact person for information about the health, temperament, behavior, and history of the dog.
6. Beware the Holidays
Many people want to get pets as Christmas presents for family members. This may not be a great idea, depending on your circumstances. If it’s a puppy, the dog will need your undivided attention in the beginning, and that is rarely possible during a busy holiday season. Even if you are going with an adult dog, the dog and you will be trying to adjust to life together, and having the commotion of holiday parties or commitments can make that all the more stressful.
7. Take the Plunge!
Time to pick that pet! Be sure to get information about the adoption or sale in writing. The contract should include details about any fees, spay-neuter agreements, health guarantees, and restrictions that are applicable. There should also be instructions on what to do if the dog simply doesn’t work out for your family, despite your best effort. Many responsible breeders insist the dog be returned to them.
Responsible Dog Ownership Month