With the holidays approaching I felt this would be a timely post. The following is a list of things to consider before acquiring a dog for the holidays.
1) Consider your motivation: What is the main reason for acquiring a pet? Some people have recently lost a pet and are missing the place their pet held in their heart or in their family life. Are you trying to refill that empty space? This is an understandable motivation and on the surface it seems like a good idea. However I would strongly recommend that you give yourself adequate time to grieve your last pet before getting a new one. You risk comparing the two with the new one falling short. How can a brand new member of the family compete with your idealized notion of your newly deceased dogs? Dearly departed Lassie could wipe his own paws! The new one can’t even indicate that he needs to go outside. The old one laid around 10 hours a day and needed a 15 min walk twice a week. The new one is tearing around the living room for hours on end. Be very careful that you are ready for everything a new dog entails – training, exercise and expense.
Other people haven’t lost a pet, they just get an idea in their head that getting one is a good idea. Maybe a friend got a new dog and is encouraging them. Maybe they are lonely, or scared at home alone. Maybe they saw something on TV about how many dogs are euthanized each day and wanted to do something to help. Maybe they have always wanted a dog and, well “why not?!” None of these are necessarily “bad” reasons for getting a dog, just make sure that the thinking about it doesn’t stop there. Really try on the reality of dog ownership before impulsively going to an “adoption event” at your local pet super store. Impulse buys of dogs usually end in a dog getting returned.
2) Consider your timing: Why do you want a pet now? Why now rather than after the holidays? Most people have this romantic notion of what a new baby dog or cat will be like, popping out of a gift box on Christmas morning. Oh how the kids will love it! Oh how the girlfriend will swoon!! And that is true, usually people ARE really excited by a new little ball of warm fur and sweet big eyes. But that excitement rapidly wanes, especially after the puppy or kitten pees on something (or someone), eats or tears up something else precious, or has to be let out in the frigid cold to potty. Really, do you really want the extra stress and effort of bringing a pet into your life at this busy time? Let yourself explore this as deeply as possible because I can tell you that getting a pet before the holidays SOUNDS like a good idea but rarely is.
3) Consider your schedule: Do you have time to spare for a new pet? Puppies especially require intensive work in their first year of life. I always tell people that if you put in the hard long hours of training on the front end, you’ll reap the benefits as they grow older. You should plan on spending a good hour on training each day, spaced throughout the day of course! Little minds have short attention spans. You should also plan on spending an additional three to five hours a day on playing and exercising the new pup. That is a minimum of four to six hours a day every day of the week in one on one time interacting with the pup. And puppies don’t sleep in on weekends. They will need potty breaks, some of the young ones in the middle of the night. And no puppy under a year should spend more than 4 hours in a crate during the day. Ever. This is just a reality of dog ownership – if you take on a baby dog, you need to be able to care for it well for that first year of life.
4) Consider the expense: Dogs cost money. The expense of dog food, basic care supplies, bedding and training can run you into the thousands of dollars. And routine vet care is expensive too. An annual wellness check can run anywhere from $20 to $60, and that is not including the cost of the vaccinations. Adding that expense usually brings the cost to over $200 a visit. Do yourself a favor and do your research. Find out what your local vets charge, how much training in your area costs and what sorts of supplies you’ll need. Many people highly under estimate the cost of owning a dog.
5) Consider the source: There are many places to acquire a dog – some reputable and many others not. Do not get a dog from Craig’s List. Do not get a dog from a puppy mill. Getting a dog from either of these sources will end badly for you. If you feel a need to “save” a dog from a situation such as this where there is obvious abuse going on, contact your local authorities ( the police) and let them know what you have seen and where the animal is located and let them do the saving. Many people choose a pet store to purchase their dogs. Please do your research well because many of these dogs and puppies are also sourced from puppy mills. Reputable rescue organizations are wonderful places to get a dog or puppy as their staff and volunteers are usually well trained and knowledgeable and the animals are well cared for. Additionally, you can acquire a dog at low cost. However, the background of the dogs is never fully known and there is no way to insure the dog’s temperament or even size as they develop. When you need or want to be as certain as possible about a dog’s heritage or temperament, buying from a reputable, long standing breeder is your best bet.
6) Consider the age of the dog: Sure puppies are cute but puppies are a LOT of work. They chew things, dig things, play bite children’s hands, have a lot of energy and need nearly constant supervision. They also will need to be house trained and will usually cry a lot at night for the first few nights. Mature dogs are more predictable, tend to need less training, are more used to living with a family. Senior dogs require less exercise (usually) and are usually the best trained of all the ages but they are, well, old and often set in their ways. Think about what age works best for your lifestyle and your family.
I have been out of the posting loop for a spell, given that my life has taken a few twists and turns. I’ll have a post coming shortly on things to consider before acquiring a dog from the holidays. But first a few updates…
Our foster, Buddy was renamed Pupidaly by our son. We had Pup for about 4 months before it became clear that he and Lollie were going to be vying for the number one (alpha) dog position. This created too much stress in the house so Kristin’s parents agreed to give Pupidaly a try. They are now all deeply in love and have been living together for a year! Yay for a happy ending.
Lollie is still with Kristin and she is still learning every day how to manage such a strong willed and slightly off kilter dog. So far no more stitches have been required to fix any scuffles and most nights there is peace among the three dogs, Hermes, Bella and Lollie.
Ok so the snacks are served, the party has started, but the game is still hours away. Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl provides some canine fun to supplement your Super Bowl programming. If you can’t find it on your televison system, you can get your fill on their website:
Of course our puppy videos are entertaining as well – without the football theme:
Visit our Puppy Videos on You Tube
I check your website from time to time to keep up with the puppy updates, although our dogs are no longer puppies. Indy is doing Great!! We had another funfilled summer in Door County, WI. Indy loves to roam free and go swimming. He actually seems a little depressed when we return home or maybe just “wiped out”.
Hope the rest of Chloe‘s Clan is doing well.
We have a recent update from Jubilee‘s owners:
Everyone here is great. D is 20 months already and just loves animals. She loves the dogs and is always calling out their names followed by “Where are you?” Its really funny. D and Jubilee have really started to bond…….the table food might have something to do with it. Jubilee brings her toys now so she can throw them for her. Jubilee has done an amazing job knowing the difference between her toys & D’s. Even when they are offered to her from D she will not take them. We need to start working with D on stranger dogs. She is too comfortable with dogs at this point and loves to give hugs and kisses. It’s cute and sweet with our dogs because we know how good they are but unfortunately that’s not the case with all dogs.
Jubilee has been great and healthy, she loves her walks and if for some reason we can’t go on one you can always tell she is bummed. Shena “The old Lab” is hagging in there. She will be 16 in a few weeks (Crazy!) but she still seems extremely happy by wagging her tail all the time and still loves to eat. She too loves D but once again I know it’s food driven.
This is great news about Willow!!
Greetings from Germany! I was cleaning out very old emails and I found your address. I thought I would update you on Willow. She is doing GREAT! She has become quite the international traveler. All my fears about her traveling were unfounded and she did great on our first trip to Germany (and our trip back to the US and back to Germany this summer). She absolutely loves it here since we walk everywhere and often take her. She also gets to routinely go on very long walks in the hills/forest in this beautiful place where we live! She still has the issues with being afraid of men, although she has improved a little. She is still nervous around my husband unless I am sitting right there next to him. She will only relax and let him pet her when we are laying in bed (we didn’t want the dog in bed but he really wanted the chance to pet her, so we sometimes let her come up there
Dogs here in Germany can go to nearly every public place, even restaurants. They really have well-trained dogs and love them to death! How are things going with you and all of your animals? Are you still taking in rescue dogs? Well, better go, as it is almost 10 PM here.
Lisa & Willow
I remember when Lollie was just a pup. She was part of that first litter of puppies we fostered. They arrived just a month after Sadie died, 8 weeks old and dirty. We got 3 of 11 of them, born to a fierce fighter of a mother who scared me down to my toes when I met her at the vet’s office. I didn’t want to keep her. I really didn’t like her much. She was whiny, noisy, cried long and hard whenever she was left alone, and had SO much energy. Mike and I would stay up for hours throwing the ball to her, wondering aloud when she was going to get tired. I remember being afraid of her and for her, remembering her mother and not wanting to have any part of that. When that first family came to view the pups and I saw and heard myself steering them toward her littermate, I knew I was attached. After they left I had to acknowledge that she and I were destine to walk part of this life together. I remember holding her head in my hands, looking into her eyes and saying, “You will be my Buddha.”
I was determined, by willpower alone, to change the course that genetics seemed to lay out for her. I took to socializing her as if it were my job. We went to the dog park nearly every night. I met many kind people there and watched my little baby puppy grow into a lanky teenager, running among the dogs. At about 6 months of age, we stopped going to the dog parks. I dedicated myself to her training, starting her out at 4 months of age and going weekly, every single week, until I decided that she didn’t seem to like it much and I was getting too stressed out. That was about a year ago. If you read my last post, you know I failed to shape her into a different dog than she was. Some things really are destiny.
But I did get some things right: I got a semi-career out of it – I still train dogs on the side. And Lollie has a lot of skills. And I have had an amazing opportunity to learn about myself, life, and for lack of a better word, spirit. You see, Lollie triggers a lot of emotions in a lot of people. Dogs like her will do that. She isn’t an easy or a simple dog. She is fully herself and she has a big self. And she isn’t wall balanced. There is definitely a screw loose in her, a sensitivity, an over-reactive, fear based aggression that comes to the front more times than I would like. Don’t get me wrong – I am not glamorizing her. If I could make her one of those simple dogs who likes every dog she meets I would. In a heartbeat. The one thing, one of the best gifts she has taught me though, is to see what is in front of me.
So, when she attacked Hermes, I had to get really clear about what I was seeing in front of me. I had to sort through all the fears, the sense of failings, the horror stories my mind was telling me. I had to get as clear as I could to see what was in front of me. For a long time I thought I saw the end of my ability to keep my pack safe. I also thought I saw a potential heartbreak or law suit from her attacking a child. I also thought I saw the slow decline of a dog into doggy madness. Mostly I thought I saw myself failing, afraid. But when I finally settled my mind down I saw this: just Lollie being Lollie. Her “attack” was predictable, not unfounded (if you know dogs and how this particular dog’s mind works) and not intended to be so aggressive. No dog targets another dog’s tongue – that she got his was clearly an accident. And I also saw this: Hermes got over it as soon as the pain receded. Within a day he was eating normally and within two days I saw him happy to finally get to play with her again. Five days after the incident I saw all of my four dogs laying side by side in the sun on the deck. I saw Lollie finally relaxing as I finally relaxed.
Here is my biggest realization – Lollie is a mirror for me. Not always, that’s where good training comes in, but most of her incidents of “aggression” were a way for her to embody the stress of what I was carrying inside me. A lot of you won’t understand this. But those of you who’ve lived with an aggressive dog that you’ve worked hard with may. When I was stressed, she would pick up on it and become more agitated. When I was afraid, her eyes would dilate to nearly black as she also felt fear. When I was frustrated at home, she would turn on one of the other dogs lying innocently in her path. The aggression I was putting out into the world, she was showing up with. And it wasn’t just the aggression I was putting out, it was my perceptions of the world, how it works for me (or against me as was my usual story line) that was coming back to me in her behavior. It wasn’t until I consulted a spiritual adviser, Mary Muncil that I really understood this. She helped me hold a deeply grounded place while I searched for my answers. It soon became clear that this issue had more to do with me and my dissatisfactions, my left over issues from childhood, my fears and worries that I don’t get to be happy or have an easy life, than they do with Lollie. Lollie was simply being Lollie, my very predictable very present Buddha.
As I got clear with this she settled immediately. She seemed happier and more at ease. She was careful and non reactive around the other dogs. I started taking her out to run more and she liked it. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is no way I think that she is “cured” – she will likely do this again, be reactive with an overly stern level of correction to what she thinks is a slight to her, a disrespect, or a play for a possession she thinks is hers. But it won’t shake me to the core like it did this time. This time things are more clear inside me. Sure I still have an enormous amount of work to do. I am clearly in the middle of this thing with myself – still needing to listen, observe and be brave. But I am no longer afraid. I’m not afraid of her or of my truth. I know I can handle whatever comes my way. The fear was the hardest part for me, because it left me feeling so young, so cut off from myself, so helpless. Now that the fear is gone I have access to all my training, my skills, my intelligence and my instincts. As long as I can keep myself clear, I believe things will be much better. And I also bought a great book (Brenda Aloff’s “Aggression in Dogs”) on working with aggressive dogs, just to make sure my skills were up to snuff!
So, again, as always Lollie has pointed me in a direction that has been about spiritual growth and healing. For that, for her role in my journey, I will be eternally grateful to her.
We recently received this note from a reader in response to our post How to Introduce Two Dogs and thought it deserved it’s own post:
I recently got a Chow Chow (a week ago), they don’t seem to get on quite well. I believe I introduced them incorrectly as I read somewhere on the web saying we should let them affirm their ranking system and allow them to have small fights. After first two days, I noticed something seems amiss as the fight just got more aggressive. Which I decided to do more research and fought an alternative suggestion which is to stop such dominance fight should it occur.
I have the chow chow restricted by a fencing in a small area (Toilet train)and allow my other dog, an 11 month old Japanese Spitz to roam the house as it is toilet trained. My Spitz tends to start a fight with the 4 month old chow chow whenever i let it out of the confined area. I remain calm and assertive throughout hoping to correct my spitz but it doesn’t seem to be effective. Out of this one week, there was only one occasion where the two of them were peacefully roaming around the apartment for 10 mins. However, everything was back to square one again.
I bring them for walk daily, side by side (Chow on my left, Spitz on my right). My spitz gets along quite well when out of the house, however, there were occasion where my Chow started biting, unsure if it was play biting my Spitz during walks.
I’m hoping to get some advices on how to introduce two properly and get them to live harmony in my apartment.
Thank you, and your advise is greatly appreciated.
Your dogs are both young so there is that going for you. It seems that you have done a fair bit of research on your own, good for you! It will help you to be educated on how to read dog’s body language so you can be more confident in knowing what you are seeing – aggression or dominance display, play or fighting, how to know when things are getting tense and you need to intervene.
First thing I would do is this: Read the rest of this post »