Let’s keep this short.
Don’t choose a dog when you are feeling bad or sad or even excessively glad. Basically beware making a highly emotional decision. (I see these sorts of decisions literally come back to bite people years later with their rescue dogs or with the fearful pup that they wanted so desperately to love on).
Don’t choose the dog in the shelter or the pup at the breeders that just “chooses” you. I know I’m going to get hate mail for this one but doing this is often a bad move unless you don’t mind dealing with rude and manipulative behavior from a dog that desires to lead or control the interaction between you. This age old belief that “the dog chose me,” besides being emotionally-based anthropomorphism, often sets up the dog as leader in the relationship right off the bat. If you truly desire to know more about why this is and/or the dog language and how many dogs truly will take a mile if given an inch I’d highly, highly recommend you read Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! The book will set you and your canine companion up for amazing success as you walk towards a healthy relationship together in a natural way. (No food required with training and no harsh handling either!)
Don’t pick the sickly pup. I know I’m coming off a bit harsh here but unless you’ve already dealt with several dogs with health issues I’d simply advise steering clear of the weak or sickly puppy. To be honest with you (as I always am on this fine blog) several dog owners living in these instant gratification days barely maintain the commitment to walk and feed and pick up after their dogs. Many are not prepared to dole out daily medications and pay costly vet bills throughout the life of their pet. If you truly are prepared for that then I believe that’s a special calling for a very unique individual but not perhaps the best fit for the majority of us. This does not mean you care any less it simply means you are using your head as well as your heart – which I think is a marvelous idea to employ towards most situations in life.
Don’t, Don’t, Don’t let the breeder talk you into buying TWO puppies because they’ll “play together!” This plagues many a household. What the breeder (who is making a good chunk of change in the exchange) often fails to tell the buyer is that as the litter mates age – particularly if they are the same sex – they can get into serious squabbles and fights over who’s who in the family or what belongs to what in the household! The breeder also fails to mention what naturally occurs as far as training goes with two pups of the exact same age and litter let me enlighten you here and now…they often ignore you so they can fool around with each other. They will need to be trained together and also trained apart if you hope to have any form of decent training. They will also need to be socialized together and socialized apart if you want to make sure they don’t suffer with separation anxiety or other bizarre behavior.
When you finally get one pup to do a down stay guess what happens with the other pup? He runs over and distracts the one in the down stay and then that one is up and they are both chewing on each other. Unless you have a farm – I never advise getting two from the same litter. Double the vet costs, double the crap in the yard, double the trouble of training, double the socialization, double trouble!
(If you want to hear my take on the double puppy issue – get a pup and wait until that dog is either a year or two and already trained and socialized then get another pup. Over the years I’ve found this a sensible approach that is a win-win for both dogs and the families involved.)
Don’t let your kids pressure you. As stupid as it sounds this happens. Be a good parent because, let’s be honest, you’re going to have to take care of the thing when it comes into your home. Kids often will for the first couple weeks until or unless they are forced to because you made it a daily chore for them. But don’t make a life changing decision because your kids think puppies are cute.
Here are the Dos…
Do take your time and make a very informed and thoughtful decision. Do your research on breed and longevity and temperament. Do look around at other “good” dogs you know in your neighborhood and ponder what their owners did and why they act accordingly and then ask where they got them.
Do talk to different breeders and ask the right questions and don’t believe everything they tell you! When picking a puppy Do see and interact with both sire and dam. If they are aggressive or fearful or injured that’s a clear warning sign waving in your face. Do heed it.
Do seek out the medium level energy pup or dog. Energy is so important and folks often get a dog or pup that is terribly wrong for them and their household. With that being said, all puppies have high energy at several points throughout their day. Do not assume that because the first couple weeks were calm due to the growing pup’s sleep schedule that a whirling dervish isn’t just a month away from developing. It is.
Do make doubly and triply and quadruply sure that you can TOUCH the dog or pup EVERYWHERE without a bad reaction from them. This is critically important and almost always overlooked (of course, because, as mentioned before the dog training industry and vets and other professionals are lightyears behind where we should be on truly interpreting dog language which is incidentally based in touch and spatial movements)! Do pay close attention to how the dog gives and received touch. This reveals everything if you know what to look for!!!!
Do your due diligence and understand that any dog or pup is work. Do the work. Do.the.WORK! It pays off in little ways in the present and in big ways in the long term. Do invest in your future and your dogs and do the work of socialization. That is probably the most important work one can do with a pup or new dog. Do the work of training too. Do the work and you’ll see the results.
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