So now you have decided what breed you think will best fit your family. And now comes the fun part: the whole family gets into the car to go to the breeder or shelter and pick out the new family member.
So now you have decided what breed you think will best fit your family. And now comes the fun part: the whole family gets into the car to go to the breeder or shelter and pick out the new family member. A little trick to remember when choosing a puppy is to turn it over on its back and hold it there. A shy puppy will freeze, a dominant puppy will try and get away and perhaps growl. The puppy in the middle will wag its tail and be happy to be on its back. This way you will be able to select the personality that best suits you.
If you have decided a shelter is the way to go, please know dogs that have been in shelters for any length of time may not be showing their true selves and may become depressed, overly excited, fearful or any other number of temporary changes in behavior. Don’t be afraid to take your time in selecting a dog. Give the shelter dog some extra time to see if some of its real personality might peek through.
Bring the dog home
I am sure you will already have found a good veterinary clinic, purchased premium food — dry and canned — chew toys, collar, leash and dog bed before you bring your new canine companion home. If you are not sure about housebreaking and obedience training, purchase a good book or video and consider making an appointment in the near future with a trainer and enroll your pet in obedience classes. These classes are for the entire family, so everyone can learn how to interact with your new dog. If both adults work outside the home, the optimum time to bring home a new puppy or dog is when one is on vacation for a week or two, so the dog can be walked frequently (especially important when housebreaking a puppy), and get used to its new home. Should both parents of the new family member have to work, and there are no children coming home from school to play with the pup, it is important to find a good doggy day care for a couple of days per week so the dog can socialize and not become depressed. Depressed dogs can be destructive.
Establishing who is the alpha is critical to the dog so it will not become the dominant pack member. That leads to behavior problems and sometimes aggression. How you establish this is more or a personal choice. We do not let our dogs sleep on our bed — this is the way we convey humans are the leaders of the pack. Feeding depends on who lives in the house — twice per day for puppies in a quiet area, where they will not be bothered by the children. Since we do not have children in the home and our dogs are not overeaters, we just leave the dry food out 24/7 and the dogs eat as they want. But neither dog is aggressive when it comes to their food bowl, meekly standing back when the alpha cat wants to see what is in the bowl.
Work with dog
Trainers, such as John Gagnon of John Gagnon’s Pet Resort in Colchester, believe in positive reinforcement training. Keep your training commands short and do not yell at the dog. Saying too many words just confuses the dog, and women may need to lower their voice. Some dogs seem to better respond to a man’s voice. Once your dog knows the essential commands of come, sit, stay, down and heel, refresher work for the life of the dog is a good idea. A few minutes several times per week will keep the dog sharp and well behaved. Careful selection of your new family pet, good food and regular vet care means your dog will sit patiently and lovingly while being petted, instead of a barking, jumping and misbehaving.
Finally, and most important, dogs do not belong chained or penned outside all the time. A fenced area to enjoy for brief periods outside is recommended, but your dog belongs with you and your family. If this is not what you are looking for in an animal companion, please do not get a dog.
Contact Rene Knapp at email@example.com.