Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Picking the right dog for your family and welcoming it into your home.

I have been thinking about doing a post on this for quite a while. I am by no means a expert on picking the right dog or even being a pet owner but i do think i have a few tips to lend to those who are thinking about becoming a first time dog owner:

1. Spend time learning about different breeds of dogs. Picking one merly from the fact that they are cute or that they won the last dog show that you watched on Animal Planet may not be the best way to pick a breed that is right for your family.
In the March issue of Parents magazine they have a great article on picking the right dog for your family, check it out. Many dogs are great for families but awful for getting along with other pets you may already own. For instance i can never have a cat in this house as long as my oldest German Shorthair is alive. I would never trust her alone with a cat, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't end well for the cat. However many dogs will find a best friend in your cat.

2. Once you have decided on which breed is right for you it's time to decide weather you want to get a puppy(hell of a lot of work but worth it) or adopt from a shelter. If you have decided on the shelter adoption look in your area for shelters or possible rescues that have the kind of dogs you are looking for.

3. Make sure that you have the money to take care of your new dog now and for many years to come. While a dog is not too big of a expense it does cut into your budget monthly. Depending on which dog you choose will depend on how much they eat daily. For instance a huge bull mastiff will most likely eat more than a chiwawa. You also need to remember that your dog will need to make a yearly visit to the vet for shots and a check up, it's important and needs to be done.

4. Your dogs first night at home is a important one. If you let your dog sleep on your bed that first night chances are that's where it will be sleeping years later so be careful. State the boundaries right from the first second you bring your dog home, think about it and talk about it with the family before you go to pick up your new dog.

5. Which ever dog you end up choosing make sure that you have the time to devote to getting it use to your house, it's new surroundings and those it will interact with. We have always scheduled to pick up our puppies on a Thur or Friday so that the whole family has the weekend to devote to puppy care.If it is a puppy spend a lot of time playing with it and getting it use to it's new name. Sit in a circle with your family and put your puppy in the middle, take turns calling out it's name, praise it when it comes to each family member. With our last puppy my husband also took a couple days off work and spent a good long weekend on housebreaking. It worked wonders and after that long weekend our new puppy was well on her way to being completely house broken. It was amazing and she isn't the smartest one of the bunch.We also spend time working on the basic commands but we mostly focus on house breaking and leave the rest for when the puppy is a little older and able to focus better.

House Breaking your new puppy:

Every dog is going to learn at a different pace but a good rule of thumb is to take the puppy out to the grass or wherever you want it to do it's business about 20 min after it eats or drinks and many times in between. We always have a pocket full of treats and we go out (when i say we i mean my husband) with the puppy. When the puppy goes we praise the puppy and give her a treat and let her know we are very happy. When your new puppy goes potty in the house, and it will, don't rub it's nose in it. Take it over to where it went and firmly say "NO" and then immediately take it outside.Don't beat your puppy, they most likely will not know why you are doing this and you may end up confusing the dog and prolonging the house breaking process.

When we take our dogs out and want them to go potty we say "Go Toe Toe." That may sound funny but that's what my in-laws said to their dogs and that's where my husband got it so that's just what we say. But my point is to have a phrase or word to say to them so that they know what you expect out of them. Give them a few minutes and let them sniff around a bit if they need to.
Housebreaking is in most cases a hard road. But if you are persistent and really stick to it i think it drastically shorten this normally hard road for both dog and owners. My husband believes that positive reinforcement is the key to successful training in any area.

There are so many things to take into consideration when planning for your new family member. It's a important decision that the whole family should make together.
While a lot of days my two dogs drive me up the wall and i feel like i have 4 small children instead of 2, i never regret bringing them home with us. They really are two very important members of our family and we wouldn't be complete with out them. They boys love them and i know they love the boys. I had never been a dog person until i met my husband and he had us picking up our first dog the day we moved into our first house. My relationship with our first dog is very similar to the movie Marley and Me, one reason why me and my husband will NEVER watch that movie again, while it was a great movie, it really was so hard to watch, way too true to life and stirs up way too many tears for me.

The above picture as seen in the movie Marley and Me could have been taken in our basement with our oldest dog in place of Marley. She has eaten a total of two couches, one wedding veil, many socks, countless desserts stolen from the counter, too many stuffed animals to count and so many other things, i could really go on and on. But bottom line is that i love her and have really learned a lot from being her owner.
Our younger dog is a box of rocks but sweet as can be so we love her anyway. She has learned many habits, bad and good, from the older dog and they make quite a pair.
If you are getting ready to make a hairy addition to your family soon i hope you got something out of this post. Just know that your life is about to drastically change, give it time and you will soon realize that you couldn't imagine your life without that little,or big ball of fur.

Here they are...4 peas in a pod.They really do love each other.



  1. Hey Jaime,
    Thanks for the tips. We are planning to get a dog when we move. I am not sure what kind yet although I really like golden retriever's...maybe we should just send you all the puppy and you train it then send it back;)

  2. Stacee -

    Roberts dream job would be dog training, mostly hunting dogs but he is pretty good at it and would be great at it if he had more time. You'll want to kill your new puppy on a daily basis at first but it gets easier and it's so much easier when they are so darn cute.

  3. This is a great post! I KNOW all these things, intellectually, but when we bought Goldie, we did NONE of these things. I always said nothing is more endearing and downright frusterating at the same time than a puppy. We are so lucky she's turned out to be a dream dog. Now Tucker... Well, that's a different story. I don't regret taking him on, but there's work to be done there! Maybe Robert can come over and give us some tips! He is part hunting dog, you know!


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