It’s Christmas season again. The time of year when so many families consider putting a puppy under the tree as a surprise. Dogs can be a wonderful addition to your life, but they come with an enormous amount of responsibility. When considering a puppy, this responsibility is greatly magnified. Far too many dogs are left at shelters or abandoned to the streets because their owners were unprepared for the time, effort and expense that go along with pet ownership. Answer these five questions honestly before you decide to bring a puppy into your home.
Do I have time for a puppy? Puppies require a lot of attention throughout their entire day. Someone needs to be home with them most of the time. It is not acceptable to leave a puppy alone in a crate all day while you go to work, even if you plan to return home over lunch to take them outside. This is a pack animal that has been recently taken from its family. It needs regular handling and attention so it may bond with its new pack, (your family) and will not do well being alone. Too much alone time will lead to house-breaking struggles and destructive behavior problems that can be difficult to rectify.
Does my home provide the right environment? A house with a safe, fenced, back yard is ideal. Your new puppy will need to be taken outside as frequently as every half hour when it is awake to prevent potty accidents. If you live on the 20th floor of a high-rise apartment building this can be a significant problem. Also take into account the activity level of your home. Puppies feed off of the energy level around them. Calm dogs come from calm environments. Loud parties can over-stimulate or even stress and frighten your puppy. Careless people coming and going a lot can allow your puppy to slip out and become lost, injured or killed. Puppies belong in stable family homes, not loud chaotic frat houses.
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Making the commitment to become a dog owner often comes with several strings attached that many new owners might not consider. In addition to all of the feeding and the medical care, you are also volunteering your services as an exercise companion to the dog that you are thinking about getting. Regardless of breed, all dogs need at least some exercise to remain happy and healthy. Often, the amount of exercise needed corresponds to the size of the dog. A small Chihuahua, for instance, may even get exhausted just walking across the length of your house, but what do you do if you want a big dog but just aren’t up for the multi-mile hikes or marathon fetch-sessions that some bigger breeds require? Luckily, there are some big dog breeds whose energy level doesn’t match their size. Get one of these couch potatoes, and you’ll have a pal who enjoys relaxing as much as you do.
- Greyhound – Yes, the first member of this list is also probably the most surprising. Just because Greyhounds are able to sprint at incredibly high speeds doesn’t mean that they are high-energy dogs. Most Greyhounds, in fact, are much more content to lie around the house. They don’t require much space, and are actually great apartment dogs. You should aim to take your Greyhound on walks for about 20 minutes a day. This is comparable to many smaller breeds and a much lower level than, for instance, a herding dog.
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Dogs believe that their teeth are designed for chewing everything, while their owners wish they would stick to bones and the occasional stick. To a dog, teeth are a tool that can be used indiscriminately on furniture and fur alike. In the fight to prevent chewing, there are several excellent weapons in a human’s arsenal.
1. Positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the best method to stop chewers, but it is also the one that takes the most time, patience and vigilance. It also requires a bevy of strategically placed toys and bones. The goal of this technique is a simple one: direct the attention away from the object being chewed on and towards a desirable object. If Fido is chowing down on an expensive pair of sneakers, replacing the sneakers with a juicy bone will be much more effective than yelling at him, or even worse, hitting him. Over time, dogs learn that the items they find around the house are not as tasty or fun as the yummy bones and squeaky toys you provide for them. Constantly supervising your dog ensures that whenever they get the urge to chew, you will be right there to give them something appropriate instead. A little common sense also goes a long way. Don’t leave that laptop charger or those headphones in easy reach. If your dog enjoys long, snaky treats, drape cords on lamps and blinds up and away. A dog is similar in some ways to a baby, so dog-proof your house. If your dog persists in destroying furniture and footgear, try lengthening its exercise schedule.
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