Getting A New Dog Or New Puppy Requires Effort

I have to go overseas a lot for work.  I do wildlife rehabilitation (returning animals to the wild). My latest offers are from Vietnam or Russia and I have about 2 days to decide.  It’s really hard leaving the dogs behind.  I can be away for 6 -12 months at a time.  I keep applying for work in the UK but there’s just no opportunity at the moment. It’s hard, but when I’m away the dogs live with my dad and they still get their walks.  I just have to remember that they have a better quality of life there than if I tried to take them with me.

This was said by a youngish guy I met out walking. It surprised me, but in a good way.  So few people think about putting effort into their dog’s quality of life when getting a new dog or new puppy.

Normally when people think about getting a dog, they get all excited by the dream of fun, love and laughter.  Well it can be like that, but only AFTER you’ve put in some early effort.  This – and proper forward planning of time and money – makes for a good quality of life for you and your dog.

In my experience, there are 4 stages when you get a new dog or puppy:

  • Stage 1 – Panic : Usually lasting for the first 2 weeks.  This is also known as the “What have I done?” stage.  This is the bit where the balance of the household changes.  Routines get disrupted and have to be adjusted.  Housetraining has to be regularly done and puddles/poo on the floor are inevitable at some point.  Lead training and socialisation are full on. There’s whining at night, and sometimes when you leave.  It’s very demanding and tiring.  Your attention is fully committed by the dog or puppy.
  • Stage 2 – Settling in : Anything from 6 to 12 months long.  The time this takes depends on the dog.  You do lots more of the same – lots of training, lots of socialisation, walking, but routines settle and things get more into balance.  You’re getting used to your dog’s personality and needs and it’s getting used to you.  You’re both more sure of your place and rules have been established.
  • Stage 3 – Consolidation : Anything from 6-12 months after Stage 2.  This is the stage when all the early effort starts paying off.  The mad puppy stage is starting to dwindle or even over.  You’re no longer finding chewed DVDs and shoes.  Or with a rescue dog any baggage it has is starting to subside.  Being out and about is easier.  Your dog comes when you call it, plays nicely with others and walks well on a lead.
  • Stage 4 – Life is Good : This is the bit which is everyone’s dream.  Everyting has slotted nicely into place.  You get several years of  joy, fun and love (before old age starts to take its toll).

The point of this is that when you get a new dog or a new puppy, you don’t get to Stage 4 without going through Stages 1-3 first.  Your dog’s quality of life will be shaped by how well you care for it and the effort you put in.  So will your quality of life with your dog.

And people don’t consider the impact of work or family commitments.  There are working households which make great homes, and that’s because they invest money in a dog walker or dog sitter, or take the dog to professional doggy day care.  They invest too in dog training.  And when they are home, they spend as much time as they can with their dog.

Most people however seem to think they can get a new dog or a new puppy and it will be instantly trained, instantly well behaved and instantly able to cope with long periods left on its own at home or in the garden.  Would they think a baby could be?  Because that’s what it amounts to. 

I have been around dogs for all my life, and have had my own dogs for 20 years.  And I still find bringing a new dog or new puppy into the home tiring, stressful, expensive and hard work!

So please when you are thinking about getting a dog, please look at the long term aspects before you decide.  Can you really commit to putting in that early effort?  Can you really commit to making your dog’s quality of life as good as it deserves?  Can you afford the time?

Remember, you need to put in the effort before your dream becomes reality.   Leave a comment in the comments box below!

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