Dog’s Eye View: Puppies are for life, not just for Christmas
This is one of those articles that should be published every year.
They took me away from my litter mates and my Mom. Now, I’m pushed into a hideaway, isolated from everything that gave me comfort and helped me feel safe. Oh no! They’re squishing me, passing me around and touching me all over. I don’t know what to do. Maybe if I hold very still they’ll stop … “Oh!” they say, “He’s so mellow, he just lies there, curled up in a little ball.” “Isn’t he just perfect?”
Finally, they stop, and I can sneak away. But now, I have to find a place to potty. Oh, this carpet feels familiar, like the grass at home … “Stop!” they scream. “No, you’re a bad puppy! Go outside!” They yell and make me go outside, alone, closing the door behind them. At least they stopped screaming.
Now the family settles in to open the rest of the Christmas gifts. Soon, Mom and Dad preach to the kids about how this puppy is going to teach them responsibility. It’s their job to clean up after him and to feed and brush him, and they’d better do it every day.
“Oh no,” the kids think. “I didn’t ask for a puppy. I don’t even want one. I just want to ride my bike or play on the computer.”
Meanwhile the little puppy who was taken away from the comfort and safety of his litter mates and mom is now isolated in the backyard, because no one really thought about all the responsibilities involved with raising a puppy. Puppies should never be given as a surprise or a present.
This is not the way to bring a puppy into your life. A living, breathing being is not a gift. It’s a responsibility and a commitment. Adding a furry family member to your household requires much planning. It’s a life-changing experience and should be cherished and nurtured.
Realizing this little being will not know you or your household rules, have you planned how you will keep him safe and nurture and care for him? Have you resolved basic issues, such as where he will sleep and how the responsibilities for feeding him, teaching him to potty outside and making sure he has adequate play, exercise and training every day be divided among the family?
Where will he stay that is safe and comfortable when you cannot be with him? And are you and your family prepared to teach him manners, such as “no jumping,” “sit for greeting humans, “no biting,” no mouth on human skin and “no chewing Mommy’s new shoes”?
If not, have you researched for a knowledgeable family dog trainer who can teach you these lessons and more? Do you even have time to add the responsibility of a new puppy to your schedule?
If you are thinking about getting a new puppy, you must plan ahead. Wait until after the craziness of the holidays. Spring break might be a good time, while kids are home and family can get a schedule started. Summer is even better, with warm days and people at home.
If you really work on training this new pup, he can accompany you almost anywhere. You prepare for the arrival of a new baby for months, anticipating his or her needs and planning and arranging to have everything ready to help the infant thrive. Why should a puppy or kitten be any different? We nurture our children throughout their lives. A family pet needs that true bond and guidance, too.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25 years of experience. She has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.
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