Should I get a puppy? Caring for a puppy isn’t hard, but it is a commitment. Answering the next few questions will help you and your family determine if you are puppy ready or not.
Adopting a puppy can be the most wonderful thing you do, or the biggest nightmare if you are not ready. You will need time, money and a huge amount of patience.
The first 2 to 3 years of your dog’s life are the most important ones. And the most intense!
During this time your dog learns to be part of the family and will form habits. If you can’t take the time to learn and teach your puppy manners, you will end up with a naughty dog that is very hard to control.
There are also many other things to consider. So, before you move on to thinking about the exciting bits (like breed and names), you need to think about what caring for a puppy dog will mean for you and your family.
Here are the questions to answer your question "Should I get a puppy?". If you want to skim, click any one to go straight to that section.
Should I get a puppy? Puppies need to be taught where to pee and poo.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how much time you will need per day because this will depend on the puppy you get. Some puppies are very easy going and they come fully potty trained. However, this does no happen very often.
Potty training a puppy may take a few weeks to a few months. The first couple of months you will need to take your puppy out (or to the designated spot) every couple of hours or so. You will also need time to clean up pee and poo all day long.
Should I get a puppy? Puppies need attention, physical exercise, mental exercise and social time (with dogs and people).
They like chasing and biting mostly, which can be become very irritating, very fast. Are you willing to be patient and teach your puppy to control its mouth in a positive way? This requires you playing with your puppy and letting those needle teeth hurt you a little bit (until puppy learns).
As your puppy grows, you will need to spend time taking your dog for walks and to the dog park for play time and socialization. This may take up to 1 to 2 hours a day, more if you get an energetic breed.
Should I get a puppy? Puppies need to pee as soon as they wake up. No time for coffee or bathroom. Maybe throwing something on you super quick.
Dogs need to go potty early in the morning, which means you won’t be able to sleep in. You can teach your dog to go in a specific spot inside the house or outside in yard and still enjoy your morning sleep, but this will take extra time for training.
It may also happen that your dogs likes going potty outside, and will refuse to go inside, giving you no choice but to wake up for a morning stroll. EVERY day. Including Sundays.
Should I get a puppy? Socialization is the single most important thing you need to do with your puppy.
Your puppy needs socialization during the first couple of months. During this time puppies are open to new experiences and need to interact and have a positive interaction with many objects, people, dogs and other things.
It is important and time-sensitive. The socialization window for puppies closes between 3-4 months of age, so make sure you have the time to do it!
You may spend up to $1800 per year on your dog. This estimate is a conservative one, assuming you won’t buy any extra items or cute toys. It also assumes your dog is healthy and won’t need more than one veterinary check up per year.
Should I get a puppy? Many people adopt a dog without learning about this wonderful species. Dogs are amazing animals but they are not human. They will have their own set of normal behaviors, some of which will seem unnatural or “wrong” to you.
If you learn about their behavior, you will be prepared for everything and be able to provide for what your puppy needs. It will also help you stay calm and understanding, something a puppy will definitely need from you.
Should I get a dog? Dogs, specially young dogs need a lot of exercise. Is there a dog park near by? Do you have a yard? Do you have the energy to play with your dog? Dogs need to be able to run and play. They can play fetch and play with other dogs.
It is inhumane to keep a dog indoors at all time, it is also inhumane to keep a dog tied up or confined to a kennel at all times.
You don't need to live in a house with a backyard to own a dog. You can live in the smallest apartment and choose the biggest breed in the market. That's fine! As long as you give the dog the chance to walk, sniff, run and play.
Dog toys and home games are also necessary to keep a dog's life enriched. Can you provide all of this?
Should I get a dog? Can you stand a little mess in your home? A little filth, dog hair, vomit and chewed up things?
Reading and doing some research may help prevent home destruction, but it’s not certain. Puppies make mistakes, they pee and poo where they shouldn’t (because they are learning) and they like to chew on everything (because they are exploring the world).
Even if you are lucky to get a calm puppy, you will live with dog hair EVERYWHERE: your clothes, your furniture, your floor, your food. Can you stand this?
As I mentioned before, puppies make mistakes, dogs make mistakes. You must be able to be calm and never punish your dog.
Teach your puppy manners and obedience using positive methods.
But they may still makes mistakes. Several times. Can you be calm and forgive your dog?
Should I have a puppy? Are dogs allowed where you live? This is a make it or break it question!
If you rent, you must ask your landlord whether pets are allowed. This is a basic question and you need to know the answer before you fall in love with a puppy fur ball.
In addition, think about the future. If you move, will you be able to keep your dog? Once you adopt a puppy you must commit to care for him for the rest of his life.
Should I get a puppy? Can you keep a dog for the rest of his/her life?
If you are planning on traveling a lot, then maybe it is not the right time to get a dog.
If you plan on moving abroad do your research about what is required to bring your pet to the new country. Sometimes, just the airplane ride may be too stressful.
If you are planning on staying away from home for long periods of time every day, maybe a dog is not the best option. Dogs get lonely very easily because they are social animals. They need to spend time with you, they need to be around people often.
If you are lucky, your dog may live up to be 20 years old. Where will you be in 15 years?
Hint: the answer is "Taking care of my dog!"
Should I get a puppy? Vacation time is not as straight forward with a dog. It is not always easy to travel with a pet and find pet-friendly accommodations.
You can always leave your dog at a board and kennel. Just make sure you factor in money and preparing your dog to stay at a strange place.
Should I get a puppy? Is this your sole decision? Or are the other people living with you?
This is a very important questions. Every household member should agree on having a dog. You may divide dog tasks as you wish but it's very important the everyone follows the same rules.
If there are older kids in the house, it could be a great experience to have some responsibilities like feeding the dog, looking online for home-made interactive dog toys (and make them!) and walking the dog.
Sit everyone around and talk about the consequences of not following through with the responsibilities of owning a puppy dog.
Should I get a puppy? Not if you or anyone in your household is allergic to dogs.
You can adopt hypoallergenic dogs, but I highly recommend that the allergic person spends several hours with a hypoallergenic dog belonging to a friend or family member to ensure health issues won’t be a problem.
Should I get a puppy? Do you have small children that may be afraid and or get hurt when puppy plays with his mouth? Puppies will chew on everything, including you and your toddler for the first 4-6 months of the puppy’s life.
You can teach them to play without hurting but this takes time. It may take a couple of months for your puppy to regulate the pressure he makes with his jaws while playing.
In the mean time scratches will happen.
Is there an elderly person that may trip and or fall if the dog jumps on them? Puppies have a lot of energy, they run, jump and chew. They also grow very fast, so the first month or two these things may not be a problem because the puppy is small.
However, as the puppy grows, so does its energy level and potential for accidents.
Should I get a puppy? If you are the kind of person that works a lot during the week and likes to go out on weekends, or maybe go out on weekend trips; you need to think whether a dog is going to get enough time with you or not.
If you are willing to take your puppy with you on your outings, that’s great! If no, then maybe this is not the time to get one.
If you think a puppy can go everywhere with you, please make sure you think everything through.
I once had a client who adopted a puppy. He was going to go on a car ride all over Argentina and wanted to take the dog with him.
He hired me for training and everything went very well.
However, a few months later he called me saying he needed to give the puppy away because traveling around the country with a dog was…very stressful for the dog!
They encountered several street dogs that would try to fight with his dog, and the traveling and sleeping in different places part of the adventure turned out to be too much for the puppy.
If you answer yes, don’t worry. You can still get a puppy!
But I must warn you… A new baby takes a lot of work and having a puppy at the same time may drive you insane. It can be done, and if you do… Please hire a positive dog trainer that will help you prepare your puppy to become a loving, obedient and confident family dog.
If you have the drive and passion to do it, there is nothing more fun than kids and puppies! It can be a great experience.
Should I get a puppy? Just like having toddlers. You need to puppy proof your home.
This means that you may have to take every decoration and pillow from the puppy’s reach for the first few months. You will need to cover and secure cables and outlets.
Teaching your puppy to spend time in a crate can also be very helpful, specially when you can’t supervise him. However, this must be done in a positive way. You can’t just put the puppy inside a crate and hope for the best!
Should I get a puppy? Can you keep your puppy safe?
A Part of puppy proofing your home is making sure your puppy can’t escape. Puppies don’t naturally want to “escape” but they are curious creatures and that can get them into trouble.
So, make sure your backyard and/or front yard are fenced in (no invisible fences with shock collars please!).
If you live in an apartment, make sure the balcony is also safe and the dog cannot jump out of it. This is serious, I actually met a dog who did just that. It was heartbreaking.
So, secure windows, secure balcony, fence yards.
Should I get a puppy? Your puppy needs training!
Hiring a positive and professional dog trainer can be one of the best investments. Dog trainers have studied animal behavior, learning theory, training techniques. They know what exercises are the most important ones and how to prioritize your time to raise a great, happy and obedient dog.
Contrary to popular thinking, you can start training your puppy from day 1. Yes! As soon as you get your puppy home you can start a training program that focuses on all the important things puppies need to learn the first 2-4 months of their lives.
After that, it’s important to continue training in a regular basis until your dog becomes and adult dog (between 2-3 years of age). Adulthood, if you spent the time during puppy-hood and teenage-hood, is wonderful.
Invest in a dog trainer! You can find can find a Certified Professional Dog Trainer near you on this site.
Should I get a puppy? Puppies grow into adult dogs, which go on to become senior dogs.
Dog’s can live up to 10 to 20 years. It certainly is a very short time.
You must be willing and able to take care of an older dog that may have failing eye-sight, hearing and bladder problems.
Older dogs also get joint-pain and may be hard for them to move on their own. He won't want to play fetch or cuddle next to you as often anymore.
A puppy is cute and adorable and adopting it can take only a heartbeat.
But a dog is for life.
Should I get a puppy? Try imagining...
This is really an exercise. Sit down with your family, and try to imagine how a day with your dog would be like. Go through it hour by hour.
Imagine possible accidents (opps! You just stepped on pee!, What do you do?).
Imagine it’s a busy day and get home from work exhausted … but there is a puppy that slept ALL day long and now is READY to play!
You can also think about the nice things, like taking your dog for a nice walk in the spring or cuddling on the couch together to watch a movie.
This is a fun exercise, and may give you an idea of how you really feel about getting a puppy.
People often think that caring for puppies is all fun and cuteness. Well, that's certainly a part of it.
But those things should come only after you've thought first about the overall situation. It will be much easier and enjoyable if you've headed off some of the problems before they arise.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a start.
So, gather your family around. Brainstorm it. If there is a particular situation that concerns you, make sure you talk about it with everyone involved. Don't be over-optimistic and don't bury your head in the sand.
You may have the best experience with a new puppy and never have a problem at all. But if some kind of crisis arises, you will be ready.
Learn how to teach your puppy to control its mouth, play without hurting you and use his toys.
Tips to potty train your puppy.
Get the best, most effective and positive tips to potty train your puppy dog!
Teach your puppy the "Quiet" cue.
If your puppy barks a lot, teaching him the "quiet" cue can save you a lot of stress! It's easy and positive. Try it!
Still not sure about getting a puppy?
Answer YES! to these five questions to be certain you are ready for a puppy dog.
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