I saw this on a bumper sticker the other day while sitting in traffic.  “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”.  I loved the quote and it got me thinking.  When I arrived home, I searched the quote on the internet.  Come to find out the quote originated from a dog rescue/humane society, Dog Trust, which is in the United Kingdom.   Dogs are wonderful animals; they always greet you at the door and are happy to see you.  Dogs have that calming aura that helps us reflect when our day didn’t go so well, letting us know everything is going to be alright.

A pet should not be purchased during a moment of impulse.  Planning is important and knowing your life is ready for a pet is the first step.  If you are single and work during the day what is your plan if your dog has a severe case of separation anxiety?  You should have the funding available for day care and training.  Are you prepared to be a responsible pet owner?  Write out a list of pros and cons of dog ownership.  What type of a dog would fit best in your life style, a little happy lap dog or a large dog?  Dogs, no matter of breed, have different energy levels.  Do you want a calm low energy pet that will be content with a walk a day or something with more energy that needs a lot of activity to burn off his excessive energy?   If you are interested in dog sports, make sure you find a high energy dog.  A breeder or trainer in dog sport can help steer you in the right direction.  They will be able to help you find a nice working line puppy. Other options are rescues and humane societies.  Rescues and humane societies can help match the right dog for you.  Whether you adopt a rescue or purchase a puppy from a breeder, plan on training and have the resources available to hire a professional if needed.  Training classes can range from group to private and the cost can run from $100-$1000, depending on the level of help you and your dog needs.

What type of containment system do you have?  If the yard is not fenced do you have the funding for fencing or an invisible fencing system? The AKC has a wonderful program, Canine Good Citizen, which teaches good manners.  There are programs for puppies and adult dogs.  If every pet owner completed this program there would be a lot less dog complaints and dogs turned into Animal Control.  The program has a ten prong
test that include, walking nice on leash, accepting strangers, calm greeting behavior, grooming, and very basic obedience.  The program also includes the Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge; I will be responsible for my dog’s health needs, I will be responsible for my dog’s safety, I will not allow my dog to infringe on the rights of others, and I will be responsible for my dog’s quality of life.  The program teaches proper exercise, nutrition, dog identification options, obedience, etiquett, and commitment.

Before bringing your dog home make a list of the supplies you will need.  These supplies should include a crate, water and food bowl, collar, short and long leash, toys, and food.  On a general note don’t buy cheap grocery store dog food.  They have a lot of filler and it is not good for your dog.  Look on the back of the package at the ingredients. Protein should be the main (first) ingredient.  “Chicken by product”, “meat and bone meal” should be avoided.  Ask the breeder what they feed?  Another source for information is dog trainers.  The internet is a great source of information, just search “dog food comparison”.   The final preparation is to dog proof your home.  Just like if there is a toddler in the home, a young dog will find a variety a things to get into.  Make sure electrical cords are tucked away, poisonous plants, anti-freeze, and trash cans are secured.  Walk around each room and put away anything that may injure your puppy.

Preparation and planning will help immensely in bringing a pet into your life.  I have been an animal lover for all of my life.  I cannot remember a time growing up when my family did not own a pet.  We have had dogs, cats, birds, fish, and turtles over the years.  The quality of life is first and most important in a pet’s life.  They have the right to be happy and well cared for.  The effort you put into your dog’s care will be paid back tenfold in love and companionship.

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