Our personal view is that owning a dog is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do. But it is not a decision to be taken lightly, so here are some things to consider beforehand.
1. Look at your lifestyle, now and in the future
When thinking about getting a dog, there are many factors to take into consideration. It’s not just about the size of your accomodation or whether you have outside space, you should also ask yourself:
- Can I afford it? Consider vets fees: some dogs are more prone to illness or injury than others. Food: larger dogs obviously eat more than smaller ones.
- How much exercise can I provide now and in the future? Depending on how you live your life, do you want them to stay active as an adult dog or calm down and become more of a lapdog in later years?
- How much time can I devote to it? As wonderful as having a dog is, they’re a full time commitment.
Making sure you have enough time to look after them both now and after lockdown ends is crucial. When they’re puppies, they’re up in the night and need feeding regularly, to be house trained, regular walks and can’t be left alone for more than few hours. Think about how you’ll care for it when things are back to normal and you may be in the house less. Dog Day Care is a great solution, but you also need to have the commitment to look after them for the long-term.
"We talked about having a dog for years before lockdown, but only went for it in March when it was clear that we would be at home for some time with him as a puppy like we wanted. Now, we can't imagine life without him. We're so glad that we have Bruno to help him socialise with other dogs and we're relieved that when we go back to the office he will be in such great hands. Gosh the house feels empty without his lovely little face though! He brings more sunshine to every day and we're so glad to have him as part of the family."
Moya & Jamie McGough - paw-rents of Jarvis
2. Decide whether to get a puppy or adopt
Once you’ve decided to get a dog, the next decision is whether you want to buy a puppy or to adopt. Both avenues have their advantages and disadvantages and the decision really is down to the individual. Whilst raising a puppy is incredibly rewarding, it is hard work and is often under-estimated. Similarly, adopting an older dog in need of a good home is one of the most wonderful gifts a human can give, but can also be challenging. If possible adopt, but if you choose to buy a puppy from a breeder, avoid puppy farms and instead find a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme, as recommended by the PSDA, the UK’s leading vet charity.
3. Adapt your home
Before you bring your dog home - whether its a puppy or not - ts important to prepare your house. Hide electrical cords and wires, make sure the bin is out of reach (ideally in a drawer or cupboard) and any other chewable items such as shoes and childrens’ toys are hidden away. You'd be surprised what dogs find tasty!
4. Stock up
When buying supplies for your new dog, try to ‘shop small’. Whilst Amazon and the larger retailers will certainly have everything you need, we recommend supporting our local businesses, particularly at this challenging time. Important items are lead, harness, collar, bowl, bed, crate and toys.
5. Find the right vet
Your dog should visit the vet soon after coming home so finding the right vet is also important. Personal referrals are a great way to start – we recommend Cuffe Vets. They’re located on Abbeville Road in the heart of Clapham and have been established for over 40 years. Whichever vet you pick, you should spend some time getting to know the vet and staff first, asking bout their background and experience, and make sure that both you and your pet are comfortable with them. They will play a significant role in your pet’s life, so keep looking until you find the right one.
6. Start as you mean to go on
It’s important to establish and maintain a routine for your dog as soon as you get them. What you personally do and what you let them do in the early days will carry on for life. What may seem like harmless things initially like sleeping on your bed, sofa, chewing furniture and shoes will quickly become habits, so its important to establish boundaries straight away and stick to them. Also, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, the amount of love we shower a dog with can result in them suffering mentally & even physically. As tempting as it its to cuddle them constantly and have them on your lap all the time, it can also encourage them to become very nervous, dependent and possibly even develop separation anxiety. It’s very comforting for us humans but doesn’t help the pup at all.
7. Get them used to other dogs
Whether you get a puppy or a rescue dog, it’s important to start socialising them with other dogs as soon as possible. When you take them out for their first walks, whether on the street or in a parks, its important that you start to let them become independent on the lead and don’t behave super-protective. Never pick them up into your arms if another dog comes towards them (even if say, you have a small breed like a Chihuahua and the other dog is large like a Great Dane) as they will interpret this as a situation they need to be scared of and could damage them forever. Dogs get their energy from us and if you act scared of something your dog will sense it and react accordingly. Its especially important in the early days to help them learn to socialise normally, sniffing around each other like they would in the wild. Doggy Day care is ideal for this as they can meet other dogs in a controlled environment, with trained staff to manage the process.
8. Start training early and keep it up
Training a dog is hard but rewarding work. If they’re a puppy, start house training immediately. This can take weeks to months, so its something you need to consider when you‘re deciding to get a dog and is something that we can help you with. For a rescue dog, the training time will obviously depend on their background, but there is likely to be a period of adjustment to you, your family, your home, a new area, etc. Regardless, treats are the key ingredient in successfully training your dog - we recommend and stock 'ByBenji Training Treats'.
9. Keep them stimulated
Finally, its really important to make time for bonding and play. It may sound obvious, but it is something that can be sometimes overlooked, especially when the initial novelty of having a ‘new dog’ wears off. From playing with their favourite chew toys, to taking them for a walk somewhere new to giving them random acts of praise, there are plenty of ways to keep them occupied and happy.
If you are getting a dog, drop us a line to see how we can help with doggy day care, training and treats. We currently have spaces for both puppies and rescue dogs. Get in touch to find out how we can help.
Bruno & Team