Are You Ready For a Puppy?

Golden_Retriever_Welpen,_4._Woche_(10576684256)To celebrate the upcoming National Puppy Day, here is a post to help you decide if you’re up for the challenge of raising a puppy.  It’s hard, yes, but also very rewarding!

Are you thinking about getting a puppy?  That’s great!  However, I won’t tell you that having a puppy is always a happy-happy experience.  It can be very hard to keep that ball of energy calm and tolerate his rowdy behavior.  You need to have patience, a good attitude, and a sense of humor.

Are You Ready For a Puppy?

Sometimes, the time just isn’t right to get a puppy.  Are you gone at school or work most of the day?  Is nobody at home to watch the puppy?  This probably isn’t the best time to introduce a puppy into your life if this is the case.

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Do you have time to exercise and train a puppy?

Do you have time to devote to training and exercising your puppy?  Exercising will vary from puppy to puppy, but you should set aside at least 30 minutes to vigorously play/walk with your puppy.  Remember, this time doesn’t include petting or just hanging out with your new pal, bonding with him.  Training is also vital to having a well behaved adult in the near future.  Your puppy is like a blank sheet of paper, waiting to be drawn on.  You can neatly do this yourself by teaching him polite commands like Sit and Lay Down or let your puppy scribble on it himself.  If you choose the latter, you will end up with a big mess!

What about potty training?  Do you have three weeks or more to devote to teaching your puppy the appropriate place to go?  He will have to be taken outside about every thirty minutes, maybe more.  And to top it off, you will have to clean up your puppy’s messes several times a day that he does in the house will maintaining a good attitude.  After all, he’s just a baby.

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Do you enjoy keeping your house spotless?  Do you have lots of breakable things and nice carpet and rugs?  If so, your puppy will quickly damage or ruin them!  They get their muddy paw-prints all over your house, chew the fringes of carpets, knock over statues and whatnot, and go potty on your carpet.  I’m not going to lie and tell you that puppies are little angels.  They can be very destructive!

Duke_0204Are you prepared to deal with teething?  Teething is when a puppy looses his baby teeth and the big ones grow in.  It can be very painful and uncomfortable for your furry friend and make him want to chew EVERYTHING.  Shoes, wires (extremely dangerous!  You dog could get an electrical shock!), the kids’ toys, furniture, and anything else within chewing reach will be a victim of your pup’s sharp teeth.  You will have to supervise your puppy and accept that some things will be chewed up and destroyed.  Love that new coffee table?  Prepare for little teeth marks along the edges!  One good thing about having a puppy, though, is that you will be forced to keep your house a lot cleaner!

Holidays are not good times to get a puppy.  Everyone is busy and has other things to attend to like baking, decorating, or entertaining guests.  Your new puppy, still lonely for its mother and litter mates, will feel forgotten and scared.  It’s easy to forget such a little thing as a puppy, and it can happen to the best of us.  Frightening your dog in such a way will lead to unwanted behaviors in the future.  Please wait until after any holidays to get a new puppy!

The Commitment

800px-Gauge_1When you get a new puppy, you are making a promise to him.  You’re promising to take good care of and love him for the rest of his life.  Are you up for the commitment?  Please think of the future before you get a dog!  Are you going to move to a house or apartment where they do not allow dogs?  Obviously, don’t go out and buy a puppy!  Also, you need to think long and hard about the breed of dog you want and decide if it fits your lifestyle.  You dog could live for ten years or more, and you want to make absolutely sure that this is the kind of dog you want to spend that time with.

Can’t Handle a Rowdy Pup?  Get an Adult!

WestieWithBowPuppies aren’t for everyone.  They’re super (SUPER!!) cute, yes, but they are also a lot of trouble.  If you think that you can’t handle a boisterous puppy but still want a canine companion, get an adult.  There are many friendly adult dogs in shelters or rescues just waiting for a home.  They’ve passed the teething stage and most of them are already potty trained.  Also, by adopting an adult dog, you’re giving him a second chance.  Check out your local shelter or Petfinder.com for dogs looking for homes in your area.

 

 

 

What Dogs Give Us

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

– Leo Buscaglia

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Hiking With Your Dog

sissy hiking smilingRecently, I went on a hike with my humans.  I was very worried on the ride to the trail as I thought I was going to the vet’s, but I soon calmed down once we passed that building.  I had a great time following the path with my excellent sniffer, and I saw something I had never seen before: a big body of water.  Some of my humans went to throw pebbles in the sparkling water, so I had to come too.  First, I carefully sniffed to make sure so much water wouldn’t be dangerous.  Then, I dipped my paw in.  It was cold!  I was so thrilled at the wet sensation that I probably would have jumped right in if I hadn’t had a leash on.  I was ready to go back to my roots and retrieve like my ancestors!

Hiking with your dog can be a whole lot of fun, even when all of the trees and grass are dead.  We found that we had a lovely view because all of the leaves were gone!  Before you give this fun activity a try, however, there are a few safety tips you should keep in mind:

Are Your Dog’s Paws Tough Enough?

hiking rocksSometimes, rough terrains can wreak havoc on your dog’s feet.  Rocks, branches, and gravel can bruise or cut his paws.  What do you usually walk your dog on?  A smooth sidewalk, gravel, or grass?  If your dog walks on smooth and soft surfaces like grass and sidewalks most of the time, his paws are not tough enough to take hiking.  Slowly build up to increase the durability of his paws by walking on gravel for a few minutes during your walks.  Increase the amount of time you spend on rougher surfaces every week, and soon your dog will be up for the challenge of hiking!  Obviously, never walk where there might be glass or any other sharp objects.  This will not help make your dog’s paws tougher and might seriously damage them!

Fitness Check

How fit is your dog?  I run often, so even though my humans were tired after our hike, I felt like going on for much longer.  If your dog is only used to leisurely strolls, however, you need to build up the time you walk him to get him fit enough to hike.435px-Enrico-lombardi

Remember, puppies and older dogs do not have the stamina middle-aged dogs do.  A puppy’s joints are still growing, so too much jumping, running, or walking could harm them.  And older dogs, because of aging joints, cannot walk as long or far either.  Consult your veterinarian before your take a puppy or older dog on a hike.

Don’t Jump!

If your dog is a puppy or senior, don’t allow him to jump off of steps or rocks while on hikes.  If he’s small enough, you can just pick him up and carry him.  You won’t be able to this with some dogs, though!  If Fido weighs more than you can handle, choose a different hiking trail that doesn’t have stairs or rocks you have to jump or climb.hiking stairsWhile on my hike, my humans had to carry me up some steep wooden stairs (pictured above).  I wanted so badly to jump, but they thought it would be too much on my older joints.

Take Advantage of Benches!

Even if your dog looks fresh, take some breathers while on your hike.  Dogs can be very secretive and don’t like to admit when they’re tired.  Plus, you’ll find that resting on a bench or rock will give you time to admire the scenery.  My humans stopped at two benches to rest, and, even though I wanted to go on, I sat on them too.

Bring Water

Always, always bring water for your dog in the car for after the hike.  If your dog gets really hot and thirsty, bring a water bottle with you and let your dog lap it up.  If you don’t like sharing a bottle of water with your doggy, you can buy a collapsible dog dish that fits easily in a pocket.  There are these nifty bowls on Amazon.com here and here.

Stay on Leash

AarnikanmakiNaturally, don’t let your dog take a hike off-leash.  There are several good reasons for this.  First of all, it could be harmful to other people taking walks.  A small child might get scared of a large dog (or even a small one) coming towards him.  It doesn’t matter if your dog likes little kids and other people.  Most people have no way of knowing that and don’t want to be jumped on and kissed by your dog.  A person who doesn’t like dogs or who has been bitten by one before might take this as a threat.  Another important reason is your dog’s safety.  Without a leash, he could run off the path, fall down an overhanging rock, tangle with some small wildlife, etc.  Plus, what if your dog decides not to come when he’s called?  That good smelling stick will be seen as more impelling than your repeated calls.  Please be considerate of other people and a responsible dog owner and leash your dog!

Teach Your Dog Something New!

Hi!  It’s Sissy again!  Remember to check out the Tricks Page.  There you’ll find information on how to start your training adventure!

Here are the tricks I have directions for so far:

Come (the most important!)2013_Royal_Melbourne_Show_(10017072334)

 Drop it (very handy for a mouthy dog)

High Five (a real crowd pleaser!)

Lay Down (other tricks build off of this)

Sit (many tricks build of of this handy trick too)

Take a Bow! (This is a perfect finish to a display of your dog’s talent!)

Have fun teaching your dog!

Woof,

Sissy

 

Outdoor Fun in Cold Weather

Fremont_Solstice_Parade_2010_-_384_(4720327208)Cold weather shouldn’t put an end to outdoor exercising and fun.  Do you like to do sports with your dog and enjoy a challenge?  If you have a lot of snow then, you can sled with your dog or go skijoring (wondering what this “ski” thing is?  Keep reading!).  Hiking in the colder months will allow you to see mounds of leaves or snow (which can be awesome to romp in with your dog!), and you can see through trees without having bushels of leaves blocking a good view.  Plus, you shouldn’t let your dog lay around all day putting on extra weight and being bored, so a fun outing will be good for him.  He doesn’t care if it’s cold!

Ski…what?

Skijor_worldsWhat in the world is skijoring?  If you look at it one way, it’s a lot like dog sledding.  You ride on skis and your dog pulls.  However, there is no way for the skier to really control the dog or show him where to go unless he uses his voice.  The dog has to make the decision of where to turn next if he can’t hear his master’s command.  A dog who does this has to have a strong desire to run and pull.  And, obviously, don’t enroll a small dog in skijoring!  Interested in this fun sport?  You can learn more about it at  Sled Dog Central.

Now, if you choose to take your dog sledding or skijoring, you need the proper equipment and training.  Search for sellers of dog harnesses, bungee tow lines, etc. with good reviews.  You might have to pay a little more to get true quality that will last.  With enough research, you can probably find a good trainer in a snowy area, but if it only snows lightly once or twice a year where you live, you might not be able to find one.

Play at the Dog Park

800px-Dogs_and_people_in_snowy_dog_parkThe dog park won’t be closed because it’s chilly outside!  Your dog needs to run and get exercise, even if it’s cold.  Why not treat him to a large fenced-in area where he can run freely?  Your dog can also romp and play with other canines and make some new friends!  If it’s snowing, all the better!  Now he can run around in a large area of snow!!

Keep Warm

Poodle(cropped)snow-coatWhen you exercise your dog during cold weather, make sure that he keeps warm.  Some dogs – like the Siberian Husky – will naturally love wind and snow, but others will not to so thrilled.  If you think your dog is too cold on walks, hikes, etc., purchase a coat or some little booties to keep his feet warm.  I have a little blue coat that I wear when it’s cold outside, and it keeps me warm and cozy.

Remember, your dog will especially need to keep warm if he is a senior dog, as he will have a harder time regulating his body temperature.

Play Some Games

No, I don’t mean board games!  Your dog can’t play Monopoly or checkers with you, but he can participate in wintry doggy games.  Here are a few fun ones below:

Catch the Snowball!

This game is as simple as it sounds.  Roll up some snow, toss it, and let your dog crunch down on it!  Some dogs go absolutely crazy about this game and will catch for hours.

Learn a Trick

For your dog, one of the best games in existence is to be taught a new trick.  Don’t make the excuse that your dog is too young or old!  Puppies as young as 8 weeks can be taught to sit, and I’m almost 13 and learning a new trick called “crawl,” so age is no excuse.  Check out the tricks page to start out on this fun adventure!Koostöö

If your dog already knows a few tricks, enforce them by asking him to “sit” or “lay down” on cold walks or hikes.  Ask him to sit as you wait for traffic to stop, lay down when you’re talking outside to a friend.  It’s really cool if you can teach your dog to sit anytime you stop walking while on the leash.  This way, he will be under control if you stop to greet someone or answer a phone call.

Make a Snow Dog!

Well, this is only really fun for you, but you can let your dog watch.  Gather a mound of snow and chisel at it with a fork until you have molded a dog.  Then, you can let your dog munch on your creation!216cc2f8-a341-45f5-b34e-a588b4b06a76

 

 

Which Breed Fits Your Lifestyle?

800px-Gizmo_the_Jack_RussellHave you been thinking about getting a new dog?  That’s wonderful!  However, you should take some time to think about what kind of dog you want.  The possibilities are endless!

What Dog Do You Want?

Or, more specifically, what do you want in a dog?  If you like the Golden Retriever’s looks but don’t like to exercise, you need to get a different breed.  That’s why it’s a good idea to write a list of all of the qualities you want in your new dog.  Look at the example list below:

I want my new dog to be…

  • Friendly with kids
  • Low shedding
  • Small
  • Active
  • Social

Hmm…interesting list.  A couple of breeds that would fit these wants would be a Toy/Miniature Poodle and a Bichon Frise.

LISIANow that you’ve done your list, start researching the different breeds.  If you want a dog who will retrieve and hunt with you, you will probably want a dog from the hound of sporting group.  A few dogs from these categories are the Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Gordon Setter, and Basset Hound.  Don’t get one of these dogs if you don’t like to exercise.  Most of these dogs need a lot of it because of their original breeding.

Maltese_dog_(6225570341)Do you want a small dog?  Check out the terrier and toy groups.  Here are just a few: the Papillon, Toy Poodle, Pug, Bull Terrier, and Jack Russell Terrier.  Just because these dogs are small doesn’t mean they don’t need much exercise!  Jack Russells are especially hyper.  Also, these might not be the best if you have small children who like to squeeze doggies.  Smaller dogs need more gentle handling.

rottie prettyWant a dog who has protective instincts as well as working ability?  Check out the working group!  Here are a few dogs in it: Boxer, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Samoyed, and Rottweiler.  If you are a first time dog owner, some of these breeds who are very strong willed are not for you.  They need a strong pack leader to keep them in their place.  Also, never get one of these dogs to be solely a guard dog.  They need your attention and love, so please don’t chain them outside expecting them to become an awesome guard dog.  They will most likely bite your children and become aggressive.

800px-Border_Collie_sheepdog_trialWant a dog who will herd sheep, chickens, and even your kids?  Check out the herding group!  These dogs are greatly renowned for their intelligence.  Here are a few that you will probably recognize: Australian Shepherd, Border CollieWelsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog, and Belgian Sheepdog.  Please don’t get one of these dogs if you can’t stand excessive nipping from your dog as he learns to curb his herding drive.  Also, if you don’t think much of exercise or obedience training for your dog, mark the herding group off of your list.  These dogs MUST be trained and exercised a lot in order to help them not go crazy with energy!

800px-DalmataThe non-sporting group is a lot like a collage, full of different personalities and hairstyles.  Here are a few dogs from it: the Bulldog, Chow Chow, Dalmatian, Lhasa Apso, and Poodle.  I can’t give you any tips for this group as they are all very different, so please do your research!

I’ve Narrowed it Down; Now What?

Now that you have a few breeds that are your favorites, start researching them as much as you can.  You will have to live with this dog for 10-15 years, and you want to be happy with your final decision.  Read books, magazines, go to their breed website, find owners of the breed you can talk to.  If they love their dog, they’ll probably be more than happy to answer your questions.

Get a Mix!

mutt 2Can’t decide which breed to get?  Get a mixed breed!  These dogs are uniquely colored and have varying personalities.  I encourage you to go to your local dog shelter and look at the dogs there.  They’re just as good as purebred dogs, and all they want is to be loved.