Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why you may want to reconsider a dog as a Christmas gift.

This little guy is cute but, he will
grow and he is a responsibility

Well, as Snoopy and Woodstock point out in the picture, Christmas is coming soon. It is already December. Seems like it comes sooner every year. Perhaps that is
because your Dog Training buddy is just getting older :).

There seems to be a lot of temptation for people to give dogs as Christmas gifts this time of year. Please consider that carefully. In almost all cases, it is really not a wonderful idea.

You all know that I love dogs. It is really a great joy to have a dog in your family. They are great companions and return your love many times over unconditionally.

As I have wrote in a recent post, dogs are also a responsibility.  While legally they may be considered property, they are living creatures. A dog will depend upon his/her people exclusively for care the rest of his/her life. With a puppy, this could be a two decade commitment.

Here are a few things to consider regarding dogs as gifts:

  1. The financial commitment can be substantial. In my opinion, you have an obligation, as a dog owner, to provide for all of your dogs needs. This includes financial responsibility. This can be costly. See my previous post for additional information.
  2. It is possible that you will have some difficulty with housebreaking (particularly with a puppy).
  3. It is probable that a puppy will chew things in your house. It is absolutely your responsibility to puppy proof your home. You should make it safe for your puppy and puppy proofing can also minimize property damage. But, please be prepared, it is extremely likely that your new dog will damage or destroy something in your home (this is true even for adult, senior, and geriatric dogs).
  4. Generally speaking a puppy is not a quite animal! He will bark. He will whimper. If he is a hound, he will howl and possibly bay. The hound bay is musical to my ears. That is the truth. But you and your neighbors may not appreciate the melodic bay or howl of your new  puppy.
  5. Part of the commitment is training. As you know, I am a trainer and a substantial part of my livelihood is derived from the training of pet dogs.  But, even if you do not hire me or one of my esteemed colleagues. It is essential that you make a commitment to training. Even if you hire one of us, we simply work with you to teach you the techniques that you will use to train your dog. With enough work, I can get your dog to be a very well behaved and polite little guy or girl. But if I do the training without you being present or  you working personally with the dog, it is extremely likely that the results in your home will not come anywhere close to meeting your expectations or needs. No matter what, you must commit time to training! I realize that some of my colleagues provide dog training services that allow you to just drop the dog off for training then pick him up when the training is finished. While I respect these guys as dog trainers I do not agree with this approach. In order for training to be most effective you have to put work into it!
  6. I strongly suggest that you maintain a fenced in area in your yard. I mean a real fence not one of these electronic shock collar devices. I realize this is not possible for everyone. If you do not have a fenced in area be prepared to walk your dog more often than you would with a fenced in area in the yard. If you need information on fencing in your yard or maintaining your fence, please contact me. If you are in the Atlanta area, remember that I also own a handyman business and I will be happy to work with you to repair your fence or put up a new one (depending upon the size of the job I may refer you to someone else).
  7. Dogs absolutely require a significant investment of your time every day for the rest of his/her life. Please do not bring a dog into your home if the home is vacant of human occupants most of the day. Dogs are very social animals. They have been extremely domesticated and absolutely require human interaction to be happy and healthy.
  8. You must make a commitment to walk and exercise your dog regularly even if you have a fenced in area of your yard. See my previous post regarding the importance of exercise.
  9. Do your research. Various breeds of dogs have differing characteristics, needs, and temperaments. Some may not be right for your pack. Please keep this in mind.
  10. Some folks are allergic to dogs. If you or someone in your family is allergic, please do proper research and stick with a breed that is less likely to aggravate your allergies. Remember a dog is a long term commitment and an allergy could make your life very uncomfortable. Remember this is not the dog's fault. It is your exclusive responsibility to exercise the proper precautions relating to your health.
  11. Even if you get a breed whose general characteristics are compatible with your home environment, it is very possible that specific dog may not be as compatible. Like people, dogs temperaments vary widely from one dog to the next. Some dogs are shy and anxious. Some dogs are more aggressive and dominating. Some love to play, Some do not like to play as much. Some dogs are very high energy guys. Some are not nearly as hyperactive as others. When you buy a dog from a breeder as a Christmas gift, it is very difficult to determine the dog's temperament. Remember this is a very long term commitment. A dog who is wrong for your home could make life difficult for you. Training will also be more difficult in this situation. Most rescue groups allow a trial period. Each adoption BullyWag does has a two week trial. If the dog does not work out in your home within the two week period, BullyWag will take the dog back and refund your adoption fee. This is yet another reason that you should consider adoption!
  12. If you are renting your home, please verify that the landlord is okay with a dog on the property. In most cases a fee is required and there are size, weight and possibly breed limitations. Please remember that this is a very long term commitment that will add difficulty and quite possibly expense to your next move.
  13. Consider carefully bringing a puppy into a home with a very young child. A puppy requires a substantial time commitment. Also small children can unintentionally hurt a puppy. A puppy that is hurt or scared is much more likely to bite. This is not the dog's fault he is simply protecting himself. Dogs play with each other using their mouths. They also jump on each other. This is the way God made them. It is their inclination to try to play this way with people. There are training techniques to address this behavior with people. But, the new puppy will very likely jump on the child and may nip at him. Again, this is not the dog's fault he is simply doing what is instinctual to him. You must address this with training.
  14. Because temperament varies from one dog to the next, if you have other dogs in the home, it is essential that you pick a new dog whose temperament is compatible with the rest of your pack. Again, this is very difficult to determine when you buy a dog from a breeder as Christmas gift.
  15. During his lifetime, your dog is likely to become ill or get injured from time to time. It is essential that you be prepared to deal with this eventuality. It can require a substantial monetary outlay. But perhaps more importantly, your little buddy will be dependent upon you for care.  You may have to give him medication, tend to his wounds, etc. I have spent a few sleepless nights over the years caring for a sick or injured dog. I have also taken an occasional day off from work to care for one of my guys. You must be prepared to do the same.
  16. Current vaccinations and flea/tick control is essential. Also regular heart worm tests and prevention is essential to your dog's health.
  17. This is what happened when we did not adequately
    secure the trash can. And these are my normally well
    behaved beagles.
  18. Long hair dogs require regular grooming. Please be prepared for this essential expense.
I realize the above points may seem negative and it may appear that I am trying to convince you not to get a dog. Please realize that is the polar opposite of my intent. I want you to have a dog as a life long companion. They are a joy. I get much more out of my relationship with my dogs than I ever put into them! But, in order to be successful, you must be aware of the responsibilities.

As you know, The Lovely Shane and I are active in dog rescue. We provide a foster home for one or two dogs at all times. We have both seen first hand the consequences of people bringing dogs into their homes without proper consideration of the responsibility. Many dogs die because they are turned over to shelters as a direct result of people not being prepared to care for them. So, for the dogs, this is literally a life or death matter. I will not sugar coat it, if you take your dog to a county shelter there is a high probability that he/she will be killed. The shelters do not have the resources to care for all the dogs they get and there are not enough rescue groups. This is reality.
Our fenced area at the dog training shack

I love my canine buddies and that is why I am writing this post.

If you are considering adding a new dog to your pack, please contact me at any time. I will be happy to help you find a local rescue group and answer any questions you may have. Phone calls and emails are free! I will also be more than happy to work with you to develop a training plan to make your new little girl or guy a polite dog. Because, as I tell you frequently, "Polite Dogs = Happy People". Let me help you to get happy toady!!

Till next time
These polite labs (Buck and Bailey) belong to my brother and my niece


William Moore Canine Training

William Moore Lawn and Handyman Services

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