National Puppy Day
What better way to celebrate puppies than National Puppy Day, March 23, 2016? Colleen Paige, noted behaviorist, pet and family lifestyle expert, founded National Puppy Day in 2006, not only to celebrate the adorable puppies of the U.S., but more importantly, to educate the public about the mistreatment and abuse that puppies and dogs suffer in puppy mills. Ms. Paige encourages potential pet parents to “Adopt, don’t shop!” as their first choice.
It may seem like adding a puppy to a family is a simple decision, but there are actually many factors that should be discussed before making a final decision. One is the reality of what the costs will be. Puppies are not cheap, and they will not stay puppies forever. They will grow, their care can get more expensive, and unexpected vet bills can pile up if they are diagnosed with a lifetime condition. Also, it’s important to do research on a breed that will be a good fit with the family. What is their temperament, activity level, and breed characteristics (including health issues common to the breed)? Further, allergies to dogs are common, so if someone is allergic to a certain kind of fur or hair, research will need to be done on hypoallergenic breeds. If there are small children in the house, a boisterous puppy may not be a good idea, since they can jump and knock a child over, scratch, or chew on small fingers and toes. Puppies can be especially challenging when they are teething, and will gnaw on anything they can get their teeth on. Puppies also have an abundance of energy and need to be walked several times a day. Does someone in the family have the time to give the puppy a walk?
If all issues have been considered and your family is ready to adopt a puppy, there are further steps to be taken so ensure that your puppy is on the right path to a happy, healthy life. A visit to the veterinarian should be scheduled for the puppy, where they can be vaccinated as early as six weeks of age, and plans to spay or neuter can be made. The puppy needs to have a collar with tags that have the correct information on them in case they get lost. A microchip can also be helpful in locating your pet if they get lost; ask your veterinarian about this at the first puppy appointment.
Puppies are more prone to illness than adult dogs, so it is important for pet parents to learn to recognize warning signs if their puppy is not feeling well. Also, puppies need to be kept on a schedule. A schedule helps them learn toilet training, and what spots are appropriate for elimination. Research should be done on toilet training if the puppy parent has never done it before. Also, remember that treats never hurt while training!
On the topic of training, it is essential to the well-being of the puppy and their family to attend training classes with the puppy as early as possible. This will avoid behavioral issues that can, and often do, lead to surrendering of dogs to shelters, and/or euthanization.
Lastly, puppy-proofing is very important. Make sure all dangerous chemicals and people food are out of paws’ reach. Even then, pet parents will be amazed at what their puppies can get into.
Puppies bring happiness into people's lives, so it is the responsibility of pet parents and families to make sure that their pet is well cared for and loved for years to come. Pets are not disposable, so please don't take the decision to add a puppy into the family lightly. If, after everything has been discussed, pet parents believe they can handle puppy responsibilities, please check with a local animal shelter or rescue organization, www.petfinder.com, and/or www.adoptapet.com. For more information on National Puppy Day, go to www.nationalpuppyday.com.