Shall we get a dog?

So we all love dogs. They’re cute and funny and loving. We want a dog in our lives, maybe we want more than one, but we definitely want a dog. Have you considered that 100% of dogs currently homeless and in rescue started off as cute little puppies? When you put it like that, it really makes you think doesn’t it?

Getting a puppy or adult dog isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. What do you, as a prospective dog owner need to consider?

• Can I afford a dog? Can you afford to vaccinate, worm and de-flea a dog regularly? Can you afford insurance? Can you afford to pay the excess on your insurance should you ever need to claim? Can you afford to feed your dog a healthy diet? What about when you go away, or have to stay in hospital unexpectedly? Can you afford boarding or do you have someone who can look after them when you can’t? Can you afford Doggy Day Care? Can you afford training classes?

• What is your dog going to do all day when you are at work? Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation as well as comfort. Leaving a dog alone in the house all day doesn’t give them any opportunity to go to the toilet and doesn’t offer them any level of stimulation. We see so many owners who are struggling with destructive dogs and those howling and barking all day through separation anxiety. Is it fair to put a dog in that position? The answer is NO! This is why we offer a very affordable and cost effective Day Care service. A dog walker can cost upwards of £10 per hour. Day Care works out better at just £17.50 for 10 hours of care.

• Do you know anything about dogs? Understanding your dog’s communication signals is critical to having a happy and well balanced dog. Have you considered this at all? Do you know what it means when a dog is lip licking, or yawning? At Fur Indoors Bridgend we offer a comprehensive Canine Body language class which will set you up to communicate effectively with your new family member and understand what they are trying to tell you.

• What kind of lifestyle do you lead? If you enjoy snuggling up on the sofa of an evening watching TV then you need a dog who is pretty laid back and low energy. We often see people re-homing their dogs because they are insane and too hard to deal with. Then we find out they chose a working line with no thought other than “They’ll be intelligent and they’re cute”. Intelligence is a great attribute in a dog, but when you couple that with the energy which comes with a working line then you have a dog who needs to be active either mentally or physically a LOT of the time. Working breeds need an enormous amount of stimulation to prevent them from making their own fun and trashing your house when you’re not there! Find out whether the breed you are considering is going to fit your lifestyle. Even non working lines can be high energy and need a huge amount of stimulation. Take a show line cocker spaniel for instance. They are beautiful to look at, loving and fun and a great addition to the right home but, my god, are they BUSY! They’re very intelligent dogs but have what appears to be a bottomless pit of energy. Expect zoomies and an almost constant need for INPUT!!!! In the right hands, with the right training, they make a fabulous pet but they don’t suit a relatively inactive home.

• Are you prepared for a puppy? Puppies are HARD work! Don’t expect to be getting a lot of sleep when you first bring your puppy home. They are just babies and will be experiencing so many new and scary things with complete strangers having only previously been in a litter along with mum. Can you take a few weeks off work to help your Puppy settle and feel safe in their new home? Where will you take your puppy for training? Whilst training your puppy at home is fine, they will be missing out on valuable life skills and socialisation if you don’t mix them with other dogs. We offer the most flexible puppy classes available and are here to help.

• Do you have children? Puppies have sharp little teeth and will be teething for quite some time. Have you prepared your children for this? Do they know how to behave around a dog? Have you discussed giving the puppy the space and respect it deserves? Puppies are not toys and young children can sometimes struggle to understand that puppies need a break and much like young children, they don’t really know when they are tired and can get a bit crazy and unruly when they need a nap.

• Are you going to rescue a dog? Have you considered whether this dog will need behavioural support and training? Most dogs in rescue have already come from a home environment. It’s common that their previous owners could not cope or haven’t put in enough time and effort to help that dog adjust to family life. A rescue dog can make a fantastic and loving addition to your family but don’t expect them to be perfectly behaved from the get go. They will need time to adjust to your home and the people in it. Set clear boundaries and let the dog come to you. As exciting as it is to get a new dog, remember that dogs have feelings too and will need to take introductions at their own pace.

• Ongoing training needs must be considered. Taking your dog to training classes is a fantastic way to set boundaries and expectations and to teach your dog to make better decisions but one course of training classes isn’t going to magically make your dog perfectly behaved. Training should be an ongoing exercise that continues throughout their life. You CAN teach and old dog new tricks, it just might take them a little longer to figure it out. Go to a trainer who works through positive reinforcement. These methods are scientifically proven to be the best and most effective way to teach a dog. There is absolutely no need to physically punish or shout at your dog. If I hit you and shouted at you, how likely is it that you’re going to then want to do things for me and be near me? Recall is a critical part of training. If you are shouting at your dog or physically punishing them, you’re really going to struggle to motivate that dog to come to you. You wouldn’t hit a child or scream at them now would you? Dogs need to be given time to understand the rules and to figure out what we want from them. They don’t speak English! Once your dog understands the basics and can do what you ask in a low distraction environment, you then need to teach them how to generalise that behaviour so that they can do it anywhere and this takes practice. Go to training classes and practice what you learn at every opportunity. This helps you to develop a trusting and loving bond with your dog. Which leads to a happy life for all of you.

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