When it comes time to get a dog, almost everyone (I did myself) seems to want a puppy. After dealing with mine and coaching lots of people through the upheaval and training of theirs, I really wonder WHY!
Yes, they’re cute as the dickens. All puppies have that blunt-faced, waddling baby-ness that our DNA is programmed to find adorable and which pushes our “nuture” buttons. However, we humans are supposedly thinking creatures that should be able to project a reasonable forecst of what bringing a baby canine into our household will mean. Even without previous experience, common sense should allow us to calculate that our lives are going disrupted by that wiggling bundle of cuteness for about a year!
Now, a year really isn’t very long, and training a puppy really isn’t very hard — it just takes a lot of effort and energy. It leaves very little energy for other things that we’re used to being able to do. A puppy in the house doesn’t allow for crashing in front of a TV every night — right when most puppies get an insane burst of energy affectionately known as the puppy crazies! A puppy in the house doesn’t allow for much sleeping in, unless you want to get up to a puddle! A puppy in the house doesn’t allow us to continue those untidy habits of leaving our shoes and other favorite things strewn about in comfortable disarray!
In fact, having a puppy in the house means nearly 24-hour attention. It means arranging our schedules around the needs of the little fluff-balls. It means re-arranging the entire house to make sure the puppy stays safe. It means finding time in our busy lives to teach her manners and how to be well-behaved. It means getting up off our comfortable bottoms and making sure that live wire gets enough walks and play sessions to tire her out — or nobody will sleep!
Too many kennels in too many shelters are filled with too many dogs 6 months to 16 months of age. These are the growing puppies whose owners couldn’t find the time in their busy schedules to give them the attention they needed. Who assumed puppies were as easy to potty train as kittens. Who remembered the good manners of their old dog and forgot that it took a lot of work to teach her those manners.
Puppies are precious. Puppies pull at our heart-strings. Puppies might WANT to please us, but they can’t guess how to do that. Like children, they must be carefully taught — which takes TIME! Please don’t purchase a puppy from anyone but a breeder that asks you dozens of questions about where and how and when you’re going to care for the dog. Please consider adopting an adult dog that will still require attention, exercise and a little training, but won’t have the voracious needs of a baby dog. Please find a professional to help you if you find your puppy (or adult dog) in behavior that you are not able to control or train on your own. Your puppy deserves no less.