With Christmas fast approaching, it’s one of the times of year where big and special presents come into play.
While it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring a new member of the family into the pack… unfortunately, the stats bear out that each year, dogs are brought into what they think is their fur-ever home, only to find themselves discarded, confused and lonely in a shelter a couple of months later.
In short, a lack of planning and impulsivity when it comes to the excitement of getting a new puppy.
So, before jumping head first into it, here are some important questions that every potential pet parent should think about:
1. Can you commit long-term?
Taking a dog home during holidays can seem like a great idea. The kids are off school, you’re free from work and the pup gets all the attention they could possibly need.
But this time soon passes and everybody’s back in their daily routines.
Is the pup still getting walked enough each day? Are they getting enough stimulation for their developing brains? Or are they home alone getting bored and destructive?
They can’t understand why you’re hardly there anymore and it frightens them.
While they’re a big part of your life, they don’t necessarily need to be your whole life. This will be important long-term as you find balance. An important strategy for this is:
- Getting your new pup comfortable being by themselves early on. It’s something so easily overlooked when the whole family is around over the Holidays.
- Select short periods where you your pup spends time in the area they’re likely to be while you’re at work, whether this is outside or in a confined area.
- Start with 30 mins and slowly increase - even while you’re at home.
- While the first two or three times this may mean a pain-staking 30 minutes, in the long term it will help ensure your pup is relaxed and comfortable on its own, rather than stressed and anxious (cue separation anxiety later on)!
Even with the above and other supporting strategies, it’s important to think years into the future. If you can’t see how your new best friend will fit into that, then it’s time to make some conscious changes or let them be someone else’s best friend!
2. Does a dog fit with your lifestyle?
Do you live alone or is there usually somebody there? Do you work set hours or can they be irregular? Travel a lot or quite settled at home?
These are important things to consider before bringing home a new pup.
Dogs are creatures of habit and do best within an environment of routine and consistency - especially as pups. They need to know what to expect from their owners and their daily lives. If they’re given this secure base, they’re much more adaptable and resilient later in life - that holiday without you won’t be so traumatic.
Good practices to put in place first up:
- Work out how many times a day you will be walking and feeding your pup
- While 3 short walks each day are fantastic very early on, weaning these gradually back to a short work morning and night will get your pup in the right routine to work around work and / or school times
- The same goes for feeding.
If you can’t work your lifestyle around routine, then there are other ways to do this – figure out whether you can get help for dog sitters or trainers. There are many great businesses out there who can help you support your new pup, you just need to factor this into your financial decision in getting one!
3. What breed of dog is most compatible with you?
Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors in dogs being abandoned is the reason they were chosen. Too often, particular breeds are chosen because of their ‘cuteness’ or because it’s ‘trendy’ to have one.
Temperament, energy levels, size, housing and even climate should be bigger considerations than looks!
- A working breed like a Springer Spaniel or Shepherd will require infinitely more exercise than a chilled Bichon Frise
- An Irish Wolfhound could take up an entire downtown apartment
- Malamutes and Huskies will struggle in the heat unless thoughtfully provided for
- An Australian Shepherd will need lots of attention and stimulation
Before you jump in and decide ‘that’s the one’, inform yourself as much as you can and ensure you can meet their particular needs. With this one, be really honest with how much exercise you’re able to give it and how much time you’re going to put into training.
In the long run, both you and your pup with thank each other for it.
4. Are you ready for the period of adjustment?
Be prepared for crying.
Lots of crying.
A pup will instinctively know they’ve been separated from the pack and whining is their way of calling out for their family. So expect your sleep to be disturbed for their first few nights. It’s heart-breaking to hear but don’t be too doting - this only reinforces the behaviour and makes it happen even more.
The whining may also indicate a need for toileting so you will be on duty during the night.
Because puppy’s bladders are so small, either make sure they have somewhere to toilet (puppy pads) or make the commitment to wake up at regular intervals to take them out during the night.
We opt for the latter as we find it helps teach them if you want them to go in a particular area – just be prepared for some slightly grumpy mornings and an extra coffee here and there!
In the days and weeks that follow bringing your pup home, the greatest resource you will have to draw upon is patience! And start out the way you intend to continue.
If you’re completely new to puppy parenting, then head down to your nearest Puppy School. This will help in a number of ways including starting to:
- Teach basic obedience commands (sit, down, stay, stop)
- Socialise your puppy with other dogs – really important long term for a balanced, happy dog
- Help you understand how to use positive and negative corrections in training, so you can decide which balance you would like to use going forward
As cute and adorable as they are, they will find ever more ingenious ways to test you. Just got them the best chew-toys money can buy? Huh… your brand-new trainers are in shreds at the door.
Turned your back for a second on meal prep Sunday? Oops… your balanced diet is all over the floor.
Hoping for a nice Saturday morning lie-on? Nope, need to go to the bathroom… for the fourth time that night!
Keep patient, keep teaching, stay loving and firm - it’ll pay off in the end.
5. How about giving a second change at happiness?
So you’ve thought it through, and realised that, yes, you’d be the perfect pet parent!
Why not think about giving a fur-ever home to a neglected or abandoned doggo?
As we mentioned, the weeks and months after Christmas are a busy time in animal shelters and what greater gift could you give than a second chance?
One of the great things about adopting a rescue dog is the ability to go and meet them beforehand to see if they’d be suitable for you and your home. You can visit them, get to know them and take them out for walks before finally deciding. At worst, some beautiful doggos will get some much-appreciated attention while they wait to be rehomed!
Of course, regardless of age (after 4 weeks), size or breed, we’re always going to recommend putting your pup straight onto a raw food diet.
Feeding raw makes sure they have access to the nutrients they need, it helps with healthy joint development, keeps their teeth clean, supports healthy coats (we might need to write some blogs about the benefits… oh wait we have!).
For more reading check out:
If you’re completely new to feeding raw, check out our ..
We already know some of our CDK9 Raw family are rescue dogs. Are there any more? We’d love to hear your stories and see their pictures on our Facebook page. We’re for happier, healthier dogs - for life!