So You Just Got A Dog - Now What?
Here at W&H, we’re all about dogs. So much so that we are not against the idea of calling dog owners “pet parents”. This is because, in our eyes, the relationship between a human and a dog can, in many ways, parallel that between a parent and a child. A dog’s basic needs gravitate around you - he is fed, bathed, offered shelter, love and medical support by you. That being said, there is often a dissonance between the act of wanting to take home that cute puppy from the shelter, and the first couple of weeks at home with your new best friend. In the first installment of a series centered around the reality of owning a dog, we offer to you a little written reminder of the back at home basics!
Let us start with puppies. Puppies are intense. They have bouts of seemingly unbridled energy, alternated by immense fatigue. They eat everything in sight (sometimes to their own detriment), clamour for your undivided attention and do their business everywhere. However, they are also living hugs, the best therapy, and a source of unconditional love! That being said, even a grown dog, adopted from a shelter, will benefit from this little reminder of what it really means to welcome a dog in your life: it is an adjustment for both human and dog.
The Warm-Up Phase
All dogs that are switching environments go through a period of time where they adjust to their new surroundings, it is quite normal. For a dog, this can range between going from being surrounded by litter mates competing for attention, to being the only dog in sight, with only you as a source of warmth and attention. It can also mean coming from a stressful environment (backyard breeder, shelter, pet store) to the calm and security of your home. Either way, all dogs need a “cooling off” period - it’s a time to acclimate to new surroundings. During this period, everything is new: sights, sounds and RULES. It would be wise to instigate a routine early on - regular feeding hours, walks and comings-and-goings - so that your dog can get a sense of what to expect from you, which alleviates stress! In fact, when dogs have a sense of purpose, they thrive! Even if your new buddy is just a puppy, routine will offer a sense of security.
One of the first controversial issues faced when becoming a new pet parent is: where will my dog sleep? Without getting into the debacle further, let us skim the options:
CRATE: Crate training minimizes messes, mimics your dog’s instinctual desire to find solace in a cave-like structure (safe space) and doubles as a way to curb stress in dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. When properly introduced, the crate is highly beneficial.
DOG BED: Get your pooch his own designated sleeping quarters and reward him with treats for staying in it. When used properly, a dog bed will also double as a safe space too!
YOUR BED: The main issue surrounding sharing bedspace with your pooch is possessiveness - your dog must always understand that he is not king of the hill and must not exhibit aggressive behavior towards sharing the sleeping space. Also, how amazing is it to cuddle with a dog?
When it comes to sleeping quarters, we believe that it is a matter of personal preference as there is no across-the-board option that yields more positive results. All in all, as with all issues surrounding rearing your dog: clear boundaries work best.
Material Goods: A Shopping List
Getting a dog means getting proper supplies too! There are many things that pet parents should have on hand with the arrival of a dog companion. Some of the basics are:
The experience of having a dog requires your input of time and energy yet the payback is immeasurable. That being said, the care of your canine buddy extends itself to other human practitioners along the way. Before you bring a dog into your life, find a good veterinary practitioner who is not far from your home. Make sure that your dog receives all his shots and gets a clean bill of health as soon as possible. Some other humans will accompany you on your journey of caring for a dog, such as a dog trainer! Some places combine dog training with dog housing, like Guides Canins, offering a holistic and healthy experience for you and your pup! The most important human in your dog’s life, however, will be you. Your relationship with your dog will be constant and ever-evolving and the rewards incalculable. The reason why you will now fall into the realm of “pet parent” is because this creature will now depend on you for it’s basic needs and for an ultimately healthy life! Enjoy the journey, we will be happy to help you along the way.
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