By: Brie Taylor, DVM
There is a saying: “Everyone loves a puppy until it pees on the carpet.” The message is: Puppies are fantastic, but it takes a lot of work to raise one the right way. DO NOT buy or bring home a puppy on an impulse. Research what kind of dog is best for you. Think about the time, cost, and training that are involved. Can you afford $300 per year in veterinary bills and $500 per year in food, toys, and accessories? Do you have the time to spend with your dog training, playing, and socializing? Are you willing to spend half an hour per day working on obedience and behavior? Once you have thought about these things, then you can decide if you are ready to make a commitment to a new puppy.
The number one reason dogs are turned into the shelter is behavioral problems. The number one reason for behavioral problems is lack of attention from the owner. There are many excellent books and DVDs about training. There are fantastic new“halters” that allow you to train your dog faster and better than ever before. There are terrific puppy classes to help you socialize and instruct your dog. However, none of these work by themselves—you MUST invest the time and patience needed to properly educate your pet.
Lastly, a word about crate training. Many people object to the idea of confining a dog to a crate (one of those plastic kennels used to ship dogs on airlines). In fact, dogs like kennels! They are denning animals and they feel comfortable and secure in a safe, small (not too small!) space. The kennel can be used for time outs, naps, bedtime, traveling, emergencies, trips to the veterinarian, and training. Most dogs will naturally learn not to pee or poop where they sleep, so house training becomes easier. Once a puppy learns that crying will not get him out of his crate, he usually just accepts going into it and often just falls asleep. So if you get a puppy, get a crate. It just makes sense.