Hello, everyone! Welcome to day four of Dogiversary Week, a week filled with all things dogs in celebration of my two year dogiversary (the day that Little One and I became human and canine besties) with Little One!
When I was younger I had a bunny and when I got him I read books about rabbits. When I got parakeets I read books about parakeets. And when my sister got a doxie I read books about miniature dachshunds. I like to be prepared and informed about things, especially when “things” is bringing home a living creature to take care of. Getting a dog was a Big Deal and I was both excited and nervous, so naturally I read a lot of books and did a lot of research to prepare myself for Little One’s homecoming. Here are a few things that I considered when getting a dog.
1. DIFFERENT BREEDS HAVE DIFFERENT NEEDS
Some dogs needs a certain amount of activity or they’ll tear your house apart. Some dogs are more difficult to train than others. And those are just the basics. One thing that I’ve discovered is that different breeds totally have different personalities, behaviors and needs. When I first got Little One I thought she had some quirks until I talked to other people with Cavaliers and discovered that they’re just Cav things. And people who know doxies know what adorably sweet, finicky and grouchy dogs they can be. Ever since my sister got Wolf I thought that I would get a miniature dachshund, but when I started my dog search my brother-in-law (the dog whisperer in my family) suggested that I take some “What dog breed is right for you?” quizzes online. I tried to sway the results in the direction of a miniature dachshund and they didn’t even make my top ten! The breed that was always number one or two was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I’m one of those would fall in love with any dog that walked through my door, but I do think that it’s good to know the needs, personalities and health expectations for the dog that you’re getting, so that you can give your dog the lifestyle that it needs and so that you can prepare for the future.
2. CONSIDER WHAT SIZE DOG YOU CAN HANDLE
A few years ago I made the decision that I want a dog that I can pick up and carry. If my dog injures herself on a walk I want to be able to carry her home. If she’s spooked by something, I want to be able to pick her up and move away from whatever it is that’s causing her stress to help her calm down. When looking at dogs of different sizes, it’s also important to consider living arrangements. If you’re living in an apartment, you probably won’t be allowed to bring in a Siberian Husky. Some breeds might have so much hair that living in hot climates would be uncomfortable and some may have so little that if you live in a frozen tundra they’d be too cold. And then there’s cost. Bigger dogs eat more food than smaller dogs do; bigger dogs require different doses of heart worm medication and all of this costs more money. And then there’s another big thing for me: bigger dogs have bigger poop.
3. GROOMING: HOW MUCH & HOW OFTEN?
How much do you want to groom your dog each week? If you don’t want to spend time combing hair every day or every week, you should probably look for a dog with shorter hair. If you want to groom regularly, a long-haired dog might be perfect for you. Little One has lots of hair and if I don’t stay on top of combing it, she gets big knots behind her ears. Also, regular brushing will pull out some of the hair that will just float off of her onto the floor or into food later. It’s also more of an effort to give her a bath than it is a shorter-haired dog, like little Wolf. When I’ve given him a bath, I dry him off with a towel and thirty minutes later when he’s done running around he’s dry. Little One has a bit more fur and I actually have to use a blow dryer with her; it’s the only time I use one! Grooming is one of the topics that’s covered in dog breed quizzes.
4. PUPPY TRAINING CLASSES: YES OR NO?
I didn’t think I’d find a place that offered puppy training classes when I got Little One. I had my brother-in-law the dog whisperer that I could go to with questions and I read books by the actual dog whisperer–César Milan–on training dogs before I brought Little One home. (I highly recommend his books, too. They’re very informative and very helpful for determining where to find a dog, etc.) Basically, I didn’t think I’d need them. And I don’t think I necessarily needed them, but I eventually chose to take Little One to a puppy training class and I’m so glad that I did. It gave her time each week to interact with other people and another dog and I also learned that you can read all of the books and you can get all kinds of advice, but it was so helpful to watch someone else run through the training techniques and then have her watch me. It’s kind of like looking at yourself in a mirror while you workout or having a personal trainer observe your moves; there are things that you can’t see. Whenever she saw something in us that was complicating our training she gave us tips to help us work through that so that we could train effectively and efficiently and in a way that was enjoyable for both us and the dog. After all, puppy training classes are really human training classes under a different name. They’re training you to effectively train your dog. I wish I had taken puppy training classes earlier.
5. DO YOU HAVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED?
Of course I had the basics before I brought Little One home: dog food, dog bowls, treats, a collar and tag, a leash, and a crate. I also wanted a travel crate, a Nylabone, some toys and a dog bed. I had also picked out a vet before I got Little One and I took her there the day after I brought her home. I found this to be very helpful. Little One got to visit her new vet clinic and meet her new vet. They had a chance to look through her health records and gave me a schedule for bringing her in for future appointments. The vet was able to see that she was in good health and I didn’t realize how many questions I had until I was standing in that room. I also think it’s important to be comfortable with your vet. There are three doctors at the clinic that I take Little One to. We haven’t worked with one and there’s another who is a very good vet, but she isn’t my favorite for a couple of reasons. The third I loved as soon as she walked into the room. She put me at ease and has a history with Cocker Spaniels and Cavaliers. She also fell in love with Little One–not that it’s hard. When I call to make an appointment, I always request her.
It is so important to me that Little One is happy, healthy and safe so I’m constantly reading more about dog behaviors and training. I’m always looking into what food and treats she’s eating and what toys she’s playing with. I’m on the lookout for new information regarding the health of dogs. I want to continue to learn about dogs so that I can take the best care of Little One and any dogs that I have in the future.
What things did you consider when getting a dog?