Monday, November 12, 2012

Puppy Love Pt I: Pros and Cons

HSEC puppies!
Puppies. The word conjures big eyes, wiggly tails, soft ears, and, of course, fuzziness. Puppies are an adorable package of enthusiastic love, which is one reason why they tend to get adopted more readily than older dogs.

But is a puppy the best pet for you? This week we'll take a look at adopting puppies. Part I will feature the pros and cons of choosing a puppy over an adult dog. Part II will describe how to get your home ready for a new puppy and the responsibilities of puppy ownership. It's a whole week of puppy cuteness, so let's get started!

Puppies can be great pets, but they aren't right for every household. Adopting a puppy is a big decision, so be sure to consider carefully before making this choice.

In order to become happy, well behaved adults, it's important for puppies to be socialized correctly, and it is easier to cultivate good habits in a puppy than it is to attempt to undo an adult's poor socialization. In some cases, adult dogs may already have some bad habits that can be difficult to break. But keep this in mind: your new puppy has to be socialized correctly - by you! That's a significant commitment, and improper socialization can result in a dog that is fearful or unpredictable. Many adult dogs waiting for homes have already been properly socialized and will be able to fit seamlessly into the environment of your home.

Another reason to adopt a puppy is that a young animal is more trainable than an older one. However, just like socialization, you are the one who must train your puppy. Many adults are already housebroken and some will have obedience training as well.

It may be true that a puppy can be raised to fit a particular lifestyle, but it's also true that an existing lifestyle may not have room for a puppy. Puppies are cute! But they will chew things. They will have potty accidents. They will make messes. That's not to say that adult dogs don't do all those things. But adults will already have some good habits and most likely will be over the worst of the destructive and energetic phases that make life with a puppy so unpredictable.

Chutney checks things out
And the puppy's behavior isn't the only unpredictable thing about it. With a puppy of unknown heritage, it's impossible to predict adult size, weight, or temperament. And that can be really important in knowing how a dog will fit in with your family. It's exciting to see a puppy grow and mature. But if you want a dog to fill a particular niche - high energy, low energy, big, small, etc - an adult is your best bet.

Then finally, there are two more really good reasons to choose an adult over a puppy. Adult dogs are less likely to be adopted. And they will love you just as much.

Does that mean that an adult dog is always the best choice? Not at all. For experienced dog owners, raising a puppy can be a rewarding and joyful experience. Keep in mind that just like any adoption, a puppy is for life.

Is a puppy right for you? In Part II, we'll discuss making your house ready for a puppy and what to do once the puppy is home!

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