Thursday, January 5, 2012

About Your New Dog

The Twelve Days of Christmas are not over, but I'm guessing that already, shelters and rescues are being given canine Christmas gifts--not the monetary gifts that they need and deserve, but puppies and dogs who were given as gifts and have now been found to have inconvenient needs.

The more hurried our lives become, the less time there is for the consistent, routine care that domestic pets require in order to thrive and become the faithful companions they were meant to be. Because of their natural affiliation with people, dogs suffer especially from inconsistency and neglect. And dogs are capable of expressing their distress in particularly destructive ways.

Every dog person I know has their tale of doggie destruction. These are people who love and understand dogs and do all they can to ease the adjustment of a newly acquired canine into their home. But in spite of their best efforts, disaster happens. It's always the freshly upholstered chair with designer fabric out of which the new dog eats a gaping hole. Dogs aren't fools. They know designer fabric tastes better than bargain stuff. Our living room coffee table still sports Portia's teeth marks. It's made of fine pear wood. My mother purchased it in July, 1957.

It really is best to come to terms with the fact that a new dog--no matter how well behaved, no matter how diligent you are in training--will spoil something that you treasure. So be realistic. Expect it.

Any dog, be it show-stock pure-bred or Animal Control rescue, will require time and patience. Dogs love routine. Do all you can to keep your household calm. Choose a positive training method. Read all you can about the breed(s) of your dog. A terrier has very different inbred behavioral tendencies from a spaniel, retriever or setter. Toys are notoriously difficult to house train. Some dogs are highly food motivated. Some aren't. Go slowly with introductions to new people and new dogs that aren't already part of your household.

Rescues have issues. Count on it.

Give your dog six months.

They're worth it.

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