By Karen A. Soukiasian
As dog trainers, we hear heart-breaking stories and see ongoing angst, involving a new pet that could have easily been avoided, simply if there had been more planning, truthfulness and homework done, prior to acquiring the new puppy or dog.
One reason why shelters and rescues are busting out at the seams, and thousands of animals are euthanized every day, is because people act impulsively.
Your lack of forethought and planning could mean the difference between life and death for a puppy or dog.
By being totally honest and asking yourself five straightforward questions, you can avoid adding to that unfortunate reality.
Why Do You Want A Puppy or Dog?
Truthfully ask yourself what are the reasons you want to include a new pet into your family and home? Is this animal really for you? Is it a projection of your self-image? Is it because “everyone else” has one? Is it because “no one else” has one? Is it because YOU always wanted a…? Is it because you think your children will “want” one? Is it because you think your children will “learn to love” it, once you get it home?
Is Your Family Ready For A New Puppy?
Truthfully ask yourself if your family, especially one with young children, is ready for a pet? Fact is, some children are not animal lovers, and never will be. Are your children old enough to deal with the unpredictable behaviors of a puppy? Are you willing to be held reliable and accountable for what will happen to that animal, if your children categorically reject the new pet? Will you responsibly rehome it, or will it end up with thousand of others, in a shelter, rescue or even perhaps abandoned?
What Do You Know About The Breed?
How much research have you done on the breed you have chosen? Keep in mind; there are exceptions to every breed. Slipshod breeding, and illegal puppy mills have contributed to many breeds that at one time were highly recommended for families, to now have serious health, temperament and behavioral issues. Some of those behavior problems may be modified, others especially those concerning temperament, will never change!
Rule No. 1 Never purchase a puppy without meeting the parents. If the breeder does not agree for you to meet the parents, walk away. The temperaments of the parents are as a rule, an excellent barometer of what their offspring will inherit. Again, there are exceptions! Do meticulous homework! Talk with owners of the breed, dog trainers, dog behaviorists and veterinarians. Learn all that you can, before making your decision. They may suggest another breed…remain open minded.
Who Gets To Pick The Pet?
When choosing a family pet, the entire family needs to be involved in the final decision! If there is any hesitancy, there ends the discussion. Do not be impulsive! Take your time when making this decision. If need be, leave a non-refundable deposit on the animal you have chosen, go home, think it over and talk it out! Go back if necessary, and check to see if your initial thought was a good one. If it is, wonderful! If it isn’t, all you’ve lost is a few bucks!
Remember, this puppy or dog that you have chosen, has to be as excited being with you, as you are with them. If the puppy shows little or no interest in you, odds are, it’s not going to work out. Avoid overzealous animals and avoid shy, fearful ones. You want a happy, self-confident, yet middle of the road kind of personality, with a well-balanced temperament. If the animal shows any signs of misplaced aggression…walk away.
What Is Your Plan, If The Puppy Isn’t The Right One For Your Family?
Here comes the hard part! What if it doesn’t work out? How long are you going to hold on to the animal? What is going to finally happen to that puppy or dog? Have you given any thought what the cost may be to the animal? Does it end up in the backyard…like a forgotten toy? Are you the type to take it for a ride and dump it in “a nice neighborhood,” irresponsibly hoping someone will take care of your problem for you?
It could be a matter of life and death! Shelters and rescues are more often than not, full to capacity. Every day, countless animals that were not the perfect pet for one family, yet may be the perfect for another, never get the chance to show what they can offer. They are hurriedly euthanized purely because of over-crowding. This is especially true for black dogs. They are innocent victims of what is called Black Dog Syndrome. Would you want that for your pet?
You don’t want to know what happens to many puppies and dogs that are offered for “FREE!” Regrettably, there are people who make a fair living, going around collecting “free” puppies, dogs, kittens and cats…then selling them for experimentation to laboratories and even schools.
Do you have a workable plan, to find a loving forever home, should your puppy or dog need to be rehomed? If not, start thinking about it. Your pet should not have to suffer unspeakable consequences, due to your lack of forethought and planning.
Bottom line: For most people, rehoming a pet is one of the most heart-breaking experiences they will ever have. You also don’t want to add to the statistics of unwanted pets. With due diligence, do your homework. Be truthful with yourself about your family’s desire for a pet. Think of every possible scenario and have a Plan A and a Plan B.
Adding a pet to your family, should receive the same consideration and preparation, as adding any new member. A pet is a life, not a toy. You should be prepared to make a solid, well thought guarantee to that animal, you are prepared to care for and love them for the rest of their life. If you are not ready to make that commitment, you are not ready for a pet.
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