Parents at one time or another are faced with the begging and pleading of their children to adopt a puppy. Puppies are adorable and hard for anyone to resist. If your family has decided to adopt a furry canine family member, please take your time to find the right dog for your family. There are many things you should weigh and consider.
As a family, discuss your lifestyle and expectations of this new family member. Where and how can a dog fit in? Here are some things to consider: breed, exercise needs, vet costs, monthly heartworm prevention, shedding and age of the dog. There are many wonderful books and websites available to assist you in your research. Try to find ways to include your children in the research process. There is much to learn together! But one of the first and most important decisions you will need to make is if you are looking for a puppy or an adult dog.
When our family was interested in adopting a dog we contacted several local rescue groups. Originally, we believed that a puppy was what we wanted. We felt that the children and the puppy could grow up together. We were also nervous about adopting an older dog with an unknown history. We soon learned that puppies and children might not always make a safe and happy combination for many reasons. During our research we fell in love and adopted (after several meetings) a four-year-old German shepherd. It is with our success and experience that I now share with you some things to consider when choosing a puppy or an adult dog to add to your family.
Puppies are irresistible to most. They do, however, grow up very quickly. Families with toddlers and preschoolers may find having a young pup quite a challenge as well as stressful. Puppies teeth just like infants do. They mouth anything and everything! At times they make poor choices and choose to bite fingers, toes, toys and whatever they can find. This can be scary and painful for children. The pup is not "biting" rather it is "teething". This teething behavior is tough for children to understand. Puppies also have extremely sharp nails that hurt when they jump on you. Greeting you appropriately will take time and some training. Until then your pup will jump to express happiness and excitement. Keep in mind puppies gain weight very quickly. Some may outweigh your child by the age of 6 months or less! Young children quickly forget how cute the puppy is once they experience discomfort from typical puppy behavior. This can lead to rough beginnings and a negative association of the pup.
There are other concerns that can become a real and dangerous problems. A Puppy may view young children as littermates. Puppies usually leave their litter between six to eight weeks of age. Consider for a moment how they may have communicated up until they came into your home. Mouthing, yipping, jumping and growling all may have been ways they communicated with their "pack." Now your family becomes the "pack" and you have to be sure to set the guidelines from the beginning. It is important that proper leadership be displayed here even with a pup to ensure a happy and safe environment between pups and kids. If a pup feels it is in charge of the show then there can be real serious consequences. Leadership is gentle communication in a manner the pup understands. There should never be pain or abuse involved in communication of any kind with a pup or dog. It is best to seek a canine behavior specialist when bringing a pup into your home. This can become a life saver for many families! Do you research and shop around for a trainer that is right for you. Please do not do anything that you feel is wrong by your dog. A positive trainer will listen and respect your input regarding your opinion and personal approach towards your dog. At no time is pain or fear appropriate for training methods.
As I said before we originally intended to adopt a puppy. Moose was four years old with some baggage. He had been in a foster home that took a lot of time to get to know him. He was ready to be in a family and we were a perfect match. There were many stages that we did not have to go through with him. He was done teething, housebroken and had manners. Not having to go through housebreaking was a huge plus as we were potty training my older son and my younger son was still in diapers. I really did not need to be potty training my dog! Moose knew basic commands and adjusted to our home very quickly. The best part of all was his maturity. He had grown up and his personality was exactly what we wanted. It can take some time to know your puppy's personality as they grow into it.
There are many wonderful companions waiting for the right home. It is important to decide on what you are looking for so that an organization can help find the right match for your family. Adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter saves a life and helps yours! It is a wonderful feeling each day to be greeted with thankful eyes and a wagging tail that communicates so clearly unconditional love!!!!!!!!!!!!
Family Paws Owner
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