Friday, November 14, 2008

Before you decide to get a dog...

Not to brag, but people often tell us that Duke is a super cute dog is so very well behaved, walks so nicely on leash, and is super focused and attentive and smart! And they're always impressed with how he can spin jump on command or has an almost limitless down-stay!

In our instant gratification society, people see a well trained dog and just assume that buying a puppy from a breeder or rescuing a dog from the local SPCA/shelter/rescue agency means they get to have that too.

We don't always have time to tell them this, but...

-Duke used to pull our arm socket out on walks
-Duke used to get into "hunter mode" and stop responding to anything
-Duke used to soil himself within 10 seconds of us leaving him alone
-Duke used to howl for 3 out of 8 hours of the day when left alone
-Duke has caused us to get calls from our condo board/notes left on our door because of his howling
-Duke used to refuse to go into Down position, to the point where he'd try to bite us
-Duke has bitten dogs till they've bled
-Duke has bitten a man in the hand till he bled

When we adopted Duke, we told the rescue people that we were committing to care for him for the rest of his natural life, thick and thin. We had no idea what we were getting into, but we knew even then that if we gave Duke up, he was likely going to bounce around and end up dead. His life became our responsibility the minute we opened our home to him.

If you are considering opening your home to a dog - whether you buy a puppy or rescue one - ask yourself the following questions. If you can't answer yes to each one, please reconsider -

The easy stuff:

1. Are you willing and able to devote at least 60 minutes a day for walks (30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at night), 365 days a year?
2. Are you willing to invest in professional dog walking or alternative arrangements so your dog can get a break in the middle of the day?
3. Are you willing to have your rugs or carpets soiled as you potty train?
4. Are you willing to spend 30 minutes a day to build a routine for your dog? (i.e. Outside for pee at 7am on the nose, feed your dog in the crate, make him sit before you go for a walk, make him sit before he gets a treat, spend 10 minutes a day on basic obedience routines)
5. Are you willing to be actively engaged with your dog when you are out for walks and play? (Not having your dog walk you while you chat on the phone)

And the tough stuff... which MOST people will never have to be asked, but SOME will.

6. Are you willing to compromise on your career path due to your dog? (i.e. pass up that transfer to London, England, because the UK requires all dogs to be kept in a kennel for 24 months to observe for rabies)
7. If your dog hurts another dog or person, will you still love it unconditionally?
8. If your dog is seriously ill and requires thousands of dollars in expenses, are you ready to make that investment?
9. If your dog develops issues that may require months, or potentially years of regular (but not time consuming) work, are you ready for that?

Every dog deserves parents that can answer yes to the first five, and yes to most if not all of the last four.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I hear you: People are always commenting on how super-smart and well-behaved Photon is and how they wish their dog was as obedient...while I'm thinking "well, if you took all the training courses (five!) that we did, and spent some time working with the dog rather than just letting it play in the park, it would be!"