Getting A New Dog - Adopt or Shop?
Getting a new dog - whether it’s your first dog, an addition to the family pack, or filling the gap of a lost family member, is a big decision that many people have strong opinions on whether they will “adopt” or “shop” for their new family member - especially around the silly season when the idea of surprising your family with a puppy on Christmas morning becomes almost too tempting for some!
Aside from your personal feelings about this topic, both choices come with challenges, and your lifestyle is going to be a key part of determining what kind of dog suits you and your family better.
When you buy a puppy what you are getting is a fairly blank slate, in the sense that it hasn’t been around all that long, and so has a LOT of potential - good and bad! Just like human being, a dog will learn the majority of everything that it will learn in its life in the first 12 to 16 weeks of life. If you are buying a puppy less than 16 weeks old it is up to YOU to make sure that your dog experience as much of the world as possible, in the most positive way possible during this time. You will need to spend a lot of time with that dog, exposing it to as many different environments and stimuli as possible. Add toilet training to this, and the teething phase during which your new family member WILL chew everything precious in your home to pieces, and you have a whole bunch of work ahead of you - something that is often forgotten in the overwhelming joy of getting an adorable brand new puppy!
Adopting a rescue or shelter dog offers some very different challenges, but also some advantages as well. The dog is likely not going to be a puppy (although not necessarily so post-Christmas time) and so your new family member will have some learned behaviours - some owners discover that their dog has all kinds of tricks months after adopting them. The catch with this is that you may have a dog that has learned behaviours that are undesirable also - after all, the dog has been surrendered or abandoned for a reason. Regardless of learned behaviours, your new adopted family member will also time adjusting to your home, being a completely different environment from both the shelter and its previous home.
Before you decide that is sounds too difficult, remember that a lot of behaviour problems in dogs are either owner related or environmental, and can be relatively simple to fix or improve. There are heaps of great resources out there, but if in doubt give me a call or shoot me an email - there is a lot of information out there, and if it is your first dog then it can be very easy to become confused and send your new pet “barking up the wrong tree” so to speak.
One of the benefits of adopting is that most shelter animals come desexed and vaccinated, included in the cost of adoption, which is has to be said is going to be much less than the cost of buying a dog from a breeder.
As for what kind of dog you decide to adopt or shop, the breed of a dog can certainly give you an idea of its predisposition to certain behaviours and temperaments - after all, humans have spend thousands of years breeding certain dogs for very specific jobs, be it retrieving, vermin killing, herding, or protection. However, just like people, every dog is an individual with its own unique personality, sometimes the complete opposite of what a breed profile might indicate about how you would expect that dog to behave!
Personally, I am a champion of adopting - there are so many dogs out there in the world looking for a home. Don’t discount adopting a senior dog as well - a topic I will go into more detail in another blog post coming soon - these guys and girls have a hard time finding a new home, simply because buying a puppy can seem like more fun. Senior dogs can be beautiful companions with plenty of pep in them still, and are great if you don’t have the time-heavy demands of a puppy.
Whatever you decide to do, do some research, take the time to meet your new dog a couple of times before putting your money down, and as always stay safe and have a Good Dog’s Day.