I can see what my foster dogs look like when someone asks me about them. A tiny, magical little ball of fur curled up in their lap, sound asleep. All the family are gathered around. It feels so comfortable. It’s not like anyone is looking at a computer screen.
These half-hours can happen with a puppy! They are something I would love to share with potential adopters. It’s simply that I want to make sure the potential puppy owner understands that there are 47 more hours in each puppy day. Some of these can be less blissful.
If you are thinking of adopting a puppy, I have a question for you: Are you ready to experience the intenseness of puppyhood?
Are You Ready to Get a Puppy?
A cute, affectionate eight-week-old puppy is a winning combination. I spend so much time trying to convince people not to adopt a puppy. This may sound strange for someone who has fostered over 200 rescue dogs, but I am looking for the right match for my puppies.
I talk to potential adopters and help them assess their readiness and realistic expectations for puppyhood. I answer their questions about puppy care and compare it to adopting an adult dog.
There are three outcomes that could be reached from this conversation. All good options.
1. It’s evident that the humans know a lot about how to live with a dog, and they are ready.
2. After a recalibration, the humans decide that they are ready to have a puppy.
3. The humans reassess and exclaim: What in the name all that is holy were they thinking? They decide to adopt an adult canine companion instead.
Each of these outcomes leads to a happier, better transition for the puppy. (And, of course for the humans.
Self-Examination to Determine if You’re Ready to Have a Puppy
We’ll conduct our conversation here, since I am unable to meet in person.
This is the most important thing to understand before we begin: There are no right or incorrect answers to these questions. I have been surprised over and over again by people. People I thought were great with a set-up that was ideal (big fenced yard and lots of money), have been stunned by their puppy. And people to whom I gave a puppy with some anxiety (recent college graduate, single parent, working full-time) have also found it easy to hit the ground running. Instead of trying to figure out the best way to size up a puppy, I suggest that people ask these questions. The right answer will come out afterward.
What is the average day like in your house? Consider where your puppy would be, and what he would do each hour. You don’t want your puppy to fall asleep at all times. You can’t imagine a puppy who falls asleep every time it is convenient for the story. Do you have the financial means to hire pet-sitters? (Sorry. I am just trying to help. I’m just trying to help. Are you looking forward to teaching your puppy (through patient everyday instruction) how to live peacefully in the human world.
If you are still unsure about any of the items on this list, it’s a good sign! You are on your way to making a better decision.
Consider adopting an adult dog
Some people worry that adult dogs won’t bond with their puppy as well as a puppy. Untrue! Untrue! (Shown are Mojo, and Claire.
This is a crucial piece of information that you may have missed in the puppy frenzy. There are amazing adult dogs who will not tinkle on your floor. Not even once! They may even be content to lay around while you work, not chewing a thing, or welcome you home with a nice wag.
Sounds nice, eh? This will not happen with a puppy.
There are many breeds of dogs that go beyond puppyhood, including young adolescents who have stopped chewing and peeing, as well as sweet old-timers looking for a place to rest their heads. There are purebreds, rescue purebreds, and rescue purebreds for all ages. Sometimes, other people are more equipped to socialize and train puppies than you, and sometimes you may be lucky enough to have your dog in your arms months or even years later.
Possibly an older dog might be a good idea, if you stop to think about it. But you worry that your bond with the dog will be less strong if you don’t go through the puppyhood stage together. We can all agree that “BWA-HAHAHAHA” is the best word to describe our experience with adult dogs joining our families.
There is also the possibility that an adult dog could cause problems. Sure. It could be. We are all imperfect, right? However, unless you’re lucky enough to be a great trainer, your puppy will probably develop and/or have some behavior issues.
I’ve seen it too many times: Someone who bought an 8-week old puppy to avoid having a problem dog. But then, they created a dog with problems behaviors and didn’t have enough patience to train and nurture a puppy.
Let’s wrap this up: If you feel that the intense nature of puppyhood is not right for your lifestyle, it might be worth considering a younger dog to help you move forward. You might find your life is more suited for puppyhood. Your dog, who has been a great companion and is now 8 weeks old, will help you to welcome an 8-week-old into your home.
What is the Best Way to Choose a Puppy? Get All In
Maybe, though, you’re ready. Perhaps you glanced at the bullet-point list and felt a little uncomfortable at first. Then you realized that Lisa’s Thanksgiving dinner is not possible and that you will have to cancel your softball league. After weighing the implications, you realized that everything else is more important than you thought.
Now I’m not afraid to talk about the many benefits of adopting puppies. After you have considered all the negatives, I can tell you the secret. While I theoretically prioritize the puppy over my own needs for a while I find that I am actually happier when I do puppyhood-done right. Here’s why:
You suddenly find that “not much” at home earns you a gold medal instead of a guilt-trip! Why? You’re not being lazy, procrastinating or wasting your time if you are sitting down on the couch cuddling with your dog. In fact, you are doing the most important thing you can do right now: bonding with your puppy. It’s amazing how much you can do this! You live a better life when there is more sunshine and fresh air. Even if you are an introvert, you can have lots of conversations with strangers on walks. It can be surprisingly beautiful, at worst it will transform your worldview.
You may find that when you temporarily put off a part of your life in order to give way to the puppy, your front burner begins to overflow with things which, aside from being crucial for puppy raising, can make you happier, more relaxed, and offer a better outlook on the world. Puppyhood can lead to a temporary reorganization of your burners.
Be aware that two dogs can bring out the best in you. The difference lies in your human mindset. You can choose to breathe deeply and love it. What happens next?
The tiny, magical, little ball of fur lies curled up in your lap, sound asleep. All the family has gathered around. The house feels so comfortable. No one is looking at a screen and no one wants to go anywhere else.
Let’s get started.
Which is better for you: Adopting an adult dog or a puppy whole?
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