Adopting a puppy is a big decision. Before taking the plunge, it is a good idea to research breeds, training techniques, breeders, and shelters.
Dogs have long been referred to as “man’s best friend.” They are often used in working situations (therapy dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, etc.) and make great companions. America has had a long love affair with its dogs, and each year more and more people adopt or buy a dog.
Pre-Puppy Adoption Process
Before deciding whether to adopt a dog, it is a good idea to research a few key things. For starters, research the many breeds of dogs. Information such as average size, amount of required daily activity, and other idiosyncrasies is readily available. Not all breeds will fit all lifestyles.
Another area of research is training. There are several popular training techniques practiced and taught (through books, websites, TV shows, and DVDs) by dog trainers. Some training techniques use positive reinforcement through affection, while others preach the use of treats. There are trainers who advocate shock collars for problem dogs, while others shun this practice. Classes exist from Puppy Kindergarten to Agility Training to Dominance Training. Before bringing a vulnerable puppy home, it is good to know the various types of training techniques. Practicing a specific training technique will make the transition process as smooth as possible.
The third area of research should consist of where to get the puppy. Most cities have county-run shelters, and there is an increasing number of private-run shelters popping. Both The Humane Society and The SPCA are excellent resources to utilize when looking for shelter.
All shelters have different rules and regulations; however, many do put unwanted dogs to sleep. Therefore, adopting from a shelter can potentially save a life. In addition, shelters are typically less expensive than buying a purebred dog from a breeder.
When a specific breed is desired, many choose to buy a puppy from a breeder. Before buying from a breeder, ensure that the breeder is reputable and that inhumane practices are not occurring in order to turn a large profit. Things such as over breeding of dogs and keeping the dogs in small, filthy cages do happen, so get references and visit the breeder before buying. Consult the Humane Society’s website for tips on how to find a reputable breeder.
Purebreds do exist in shelters, according to the Humane Society, one in four dogs in a shelter is a purebred. The challenge is finding the exact breed desired. A great resource for breed-specific puppy adoption is Petfinder. Petfinder is an online resource that enables users to key in a few search criteria, and it returns a list of dogs from area shelters and rescue groups that match the criteria.
Bringing the Puppy Home
Once proper research has been done, and a puppy has been chosen, it will be time to bring the newest family member home. This is an exciting time for the owners, especially for small children. However, this can be a very traumatic time for a young puppy. The puppy has most likely only been living for 8-10 weeks, and all that time was probably spent with his littermates and/or mother.
Before the puppy enters his new home, the owners should procure any necessary items the young dog will need. Keys items are a collar, a leash, food, treats, toys, and a crate. It is not necessary to focus heavily on training the first day, instead slowly introduce the new puppy to his new home.
The puppy needs to create a bond and build trust with his new owners. This is not something that will happen immediately, but with a lot of patience, positive reinforcement, and of course, love, a smooth transition will occur, and a lasting healthy companionship will grow.