You’ve decided to get a dog. You think rescuing one from the pound is a good plan. You take your time and choose the one you think would be best for your family. Maybe you take your kids to meet him. You bring him home and suddenly, chaos. The dog barks all the time and wakes up the baby; he chews everything in sight because he’s still in the puppy stage. You think this is a mistake. We shouldn’t have gotten this dog. Many dogs are returned to shelters because their owners were unprepared to deal with issues that crop up when bringing a dog home.
When our beloved Bailey died of a sudden and rare illness, we said we weren’t going to get another dog for a long time. We recognized that at this stage with two kids under two it wouldn’t be the best idea. Furtively, we still looked at different dog breeds online for months. We both agreed that a giant breed would be awesome. Then we saw Bear. A Great Pyrenees puppy, he looked like cotton fluff with a teddy bear face. He’d been dumped and the people who found him couldn’t keep him. Within literally a day, we met him, loved him, and brought him home. He’s a puppy, around four months, and already over forty pounds! He chews and nips; he’s stubborn and persistent. I immediately thought it had been a terrible idea. We bit off more than we could chew and were going to have to rehome him. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long! We love Bear and we’re learning to live together, somewhat peacefully.
These are some tips to help ease the transition of bringing home a new dog:
- Be prepared. Know what you’re getting into when you bring home a dog. If he’s still young, puppy proof. We were fortunate in that we’d baby proofed already, so baby gates and cabinet locks were already installed. Keep things that could get chewed up out of reach of your new dog. Keep poisons and other harmful things locked up. We had an incident three days after Bear came home where he’d gotten into a cabinet and ate part of a steel wool pad. To be on the safe side, we induced vomiting and all was well, but this could have been prevented if my husband had shut the cabinet door that already had the locks installed!
- Know the costs involved. Dog ownership is expensive! Some breeds are more high maintenance than others. Bailey was a Goldendoodle and had severe allergies. She would have at least four ear infections a year, due to her allergies. We finally got her allergy tested and I searched and searched for a food that would fit her requirements and finally found one that was $76 for a 35 pound bag! She would go through roughly one bag a month, but her number of annual ear infections went down. Even if you don’t have a high maintenance dog like Bailey, there are many other costs such as flea and tick medication, heartworm medication and annual vet visits for vaccinations. I’ve seen estimates of over $1200 per year for the first year of dog ownership and over $500 each year after that. Depending on medical bills, the cost could be much higher!
- Recognize that behavior issues are most often correctable through training and persistence. Consult a trainer, check out some online forums to see what other pet owners are doing, or sign up for obedience classes. Given enough time, training and love, most dogs will grow up and become a family member you couldn’t imagine life without.
- Give it time. I know the guilt involved in surrendering a pet and it’s awful. I had to give away my bird after the baby was born and I still feel bad even though I know it was for the best. If I had given up on Bailey when she was a rambunctious puppy, we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of what a relaxed, sweet dog she became. I’m hoping to say the same thing about Bear!