Let’s face it, most of us love dogs. Getting a dog can be a good decision that leads to a rewarding loving relationship. It is also a lesson in responsibility and patience. Living with a dog can be a daydream, or a nightmare; the experience depends on the choices of the owner.
When most people go grocery shopping, they take inventory of what they have, what is still needed, have a budget to stick to, and then they make a list. But when it comes to making the life changing decision of getting a dog, some people will go out shopping and let the dog choose them! Getting the right dog is just as important as planning and preparing to bring home a baby. Becoming a dog owner comes with many responsibilities. It is important to consider all the ramifications of owning an animal, before a commitment is made that will last for years and affect one’s future. After all, the dog will become a family member for the rest of it’s life.
Making the right choice in breed and planning is essential for success. For instance, while planning consider these things: lifestyle, time schedule, budget, and the home environment. All dogs have their own special characteristics that define their particular breed. When choosing an animal a person must also consider even one’s own personality. A calm independent individual, might not want to get a Chihuahua that will act like a cling-on, bark at every shadow, and vibrate in his/her lap. People who have little time and money to spend on a dog’s hygiene, should eliminate the idea of getting a long haired breed that requires heavy brushing every other day and a trip to the groomers once a month.
A Doberman might not be a good choice with small children around, and an Alaskan Husky would not do well in a one room apartment, unless the owner is willing to run with the dog two times per day. Of course all dogs are versatile and can adapt and adjust to just about any environment, time schedule, and lifestyle. However, dogs that are mismatched to their environment will become stressed, and most people want a happy dog, not one that will develop behavioral problems later on. So making the right choice to begin with will set the stage for future success.
After making the right choice, the most loving thing an owner can do for their animal is teach him and train him. Many of the aggression and behavioral problems seen in dogs are due to a lack of attention, training, and discipline at an early age. Remember this is a domesticated animal that is a direct descendent of a wolf. All dogs have a wolf’s mind in dog’s clothing. They are intelligent, cunning, and loyal. These characteristics can also be interpreted as manipulative, spiteful, and fierce. It all depends on how these natural traits are channeled. When bringing a dog into a home, the family becomes his new pack members. It is built into a dog’s nature to belong and protect their pack. It is also in their nature to strive to rise in the pecking order of the pack. A new puppy will require lots of time and attention to establish status, structure and respect. If the owner does not establish top dog status, the dog will grow to believe the position is up for grabs. This is where the owner will see the dog challenging family members with a snarl, or being overly fierce, and anxious when visitors come over. Every member in the family should participate in training and role model the same consistent behavior, so the dog will feel safe and know who is in charge.
Another common problem seen due to lack of obedience, structure, and exercise is destructive behaviors. When dogs are unsure of their status in the home it causes stress. They never know where they stand or what is expected of them. It is the human equivalent to the fear of being fired from one’s job every day of the week. Stress in canines translates into destructive behavioral problems. The anxiety and apprehension must come out somewhere. Dogs chew, dig, jump, bark, and bite mostly due to stress. Stress barking releases anxiety, and biting, and jumping alleviates frustration. Many of these problems can be avoided with exercise and detoured with time, attention, and training. Providing plenty of appropriate toys to play with and chew on is necessary and will ensure the dog does not make the wrong choice. Exercise will alleviate the dog’s energy and frustration. Training will establish; status, structure, trust, safety, love and respect.
A well trained dog is a well mannered dog, and most importantly, a happy dog. He can be a family member to be proud of and one that will give his unconditional love and loyalty to every member of the family for the rest of his life. Building a relationship with a dog can be a rewarding experience, or one that develops into a bad dream come true. All the choices are up to the owner and how much they love their pet. Planning, preparation and training can create a daydream, consequently, choosing by default can create a nightmare. So if a person wants to have many successful years to come with their pet, make an early investment that will last a lifetime. Train him now and spoil him later.