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Using Your Head and Your Heart: Things to Consider BEFORE You Even Think of Adding a New Dog

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

You've got a void only four paws and two soft ears can fill. You are visiting any rescue within a 50 mile radius and surfing online for hours. Maybe you have a dog at home, maybe you don't. There are tons of things to consider before bringing a new life into your home, and you owe it to everyone to think those things through. Here at Best Paw 4ward our motto is: Keeping dogs in their homes and out of shelters through training and education. I love helping owners who have a new pet, whether puppy or adult dog, get off on the right paw. But here's a secret, know what I love equally? The prospective pet owners. The ones who have never owned a dog, or it has been a few years. The before there is even a dog in the house owners. That may seem counter productive for a dog trainer. What the heck can you do BEFORE someone gets a dog? Let me explain.

As someone who has worked in rescue for 12 years, and has also bought puppies from responsible breeders, I know a lot about why pets end up in shelters and what makes an adoption successful or not. Personally, if I strike up a conversation with someone and after all the information I give them they decide not to adopt a dog at this time I do not see it as a failure. A dog is not a toaster, and a rescue is not a goodwill. A dog is a living being, and if you could see what a dog is like when they come back to a shelter after a failed adoption it would crush you to your core. You do not adopt a dog on a whim hoping it will work out because hey if it doesn't the rescue will just take him back. Very few things in this world inspire as much passion as animals. But you have got to use your heart AND your brain.

So, what does it take? Besides love, that is usually the easiest part. Flat out, it takes money. Food, treats, equipment, vet costs, grooming; and the more dogs you have the more it takes (trust me, I have 5). But it also takes more than money, it takes time. It is not fair to think that because you have more than one dog they will be enough for each other, lessening your responsibility. Dog walkers and daycares help, but they are no replacement for you. (Please don't misunderstand that, I love when dogs go to daycare or a dog walker. But as sending your child to daycare or school doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention to them when they are at home, it is the same with your dogs) You need time to train your dog. I do occasionally hear it; can you do a board and train without the follow ups? Just fix my dog and bring them home? I thank these people for their time and graciously decline. Because you have to live with your dog once I'm done and gone. You have to keep up on what I've done with your dogs. You know the saying "If you don't use it you lose it"? That applies to our dogs as well. It's a life long commitment to your dog. If you do not want to train your dog, do not get one. The number one reason dog's are given up are behavior issues that could be fixed if effort, time and money was put in to do so. Do not fall into the trap that adopting an adult dog means you'll have a perfect push button dog you don't have to train. Not at all the case, and liable to leave you frustrated in the end.

It takes self reflection to bring a dog home, both on yourself and your current pets. For example my senior dog Bailey, she could be just as happy with her human family and no other dogs, especially now in her golden years. It's just her personality. She plays with our other dogs, but she is equally as happy snuggling on the bed with us. Some dogs really are happiest in one dog homes, despite what we may feel about the situation. We put our emotions and feelings onto our dogs so often we don't even realize we're doing it. Know every member of your pack and what they would want in a friend. For example, my shep and young pointer love to play together as they're close in age. But my senior doesn't much like him. She will play with little Winston and sometimes the shep, but she likes having the spot light not on her letting the young bucks play. So it is important to have a balance of energies in our home so she is not getting pestered when she does not want to play, but the young ones do have someone to let their energies out with. I will be honest, I never truly thought I'd own more than three dogs. But the 3 dogs I came across adding all meshed with our two girls and humans well, so they were added. All three were dogs I trained at some level before adopting which made the transition much smoother. And please know your breed, every facet of it. Just because you owned one does not mean they are all the same, even from breeders. Do research before bringing any new dog into your home to find out their grooming needs, temperament, life span, potential health issues and what they were bred to do. A dog whose instinctual needs are not being met will drive you crazy. Are you noticing a trend here? Educate yourself. Don't rush into this commitment lightly, because it is the dog that will suffer. If you have any questions or need help picking your next best friend please reach out. We would love to help you make an informed decision! Good luck out there.

For the Dogs,

Christina, DTFC

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