by Niki Elliot
Puppies are wonderful! They stir our instinct to nurture, cuddle & care for a cute little bundle of squirming, living, responsive animal. What better smell than “Puppy Breath”! But puppies are not little children in furry coats and they grow very quickly into adult dogs. Sadly the majority of puppies fail to live long enough to enjoy their second birthday. They suffer from the terminal illness of being unwanted, once the novelty of puppy hood wears off, and they become biting, barking, digging, and chewing tornados. Messing on the Persian carpets and needing to be taken outside at all hours of the night, even in winter. Most prospective owners are simply unaware of the problems that lie ahead.
If you have your heart set on getting a new puppy, make sure you train yourself beforehand. Start by finding out about different breeds before you decide on a particular puppy. You will save yourself a lot of heartache by investigating breed specific qualities. Take into account the time that you will be spending with your puppy, the size of your property, what the makeup of your family is. Go to some dog shows and have a close look at the adult dogs & see if that is the size of dog you want. Do you want a longhaired dog or a shorthaired dog? All these things can make a difference in your life. Once you have decided on which breed is best for you, start looking at the conditions that litter is raised in. You want to look for puppies that have been raised indoors around human companionship and influence, especially around people who have devoted lots of time to the puppies. Puppies begin learning at birth and their brains appear to be particularly responsive to learning & retaining experiences that are encountered in the first 13 – 16 weeks after birth. The entire home sounds, the vacuum cleaner, the TV, pots & pans, children screaming. Exposure to these sounds whilst its eyes & ears are developing allows the puppy to become used to sights & sound that might otherwise frighten it when older.
Avoid pups that have been raised outside in runs on concrete or in kennels. These pups are seldom housetrained or socialized and will most likely not make good companions.
Some folk fall into the trap of going to get a puppy and coming home with two! “They were so cute we couldn’t resist”. “We couldn’t leave the last puppy on it’s own”. This is suicide, especially if the pups are both males and littermates. When the “little boys” reach 20 months or so, they will start to fight and then a decision has to be made about who must go. Most likely, the two pups will bond with each other and not with the human family, making it much harder to train them to be acceptable members of your family. You want to do everything you can to help your family and puppy to understand each other and work for mutual joy and companionship together. If you do want more than one dog, start with one pup and when that pup is socialized and has some basic training, around 6 months, then consider getting another.
Having said all this, please do not believe that you will get the perfect dog by selecting the perfect breed and the perfect puppy. Any puppy can become the perfect companion if appropriately socialized and trained. No matter what your choice of puppy is, success or failure is entirely in your hands.