You heard it, thought you were a little bit over-tired perhaps, but then you were certain: the shiny, brightly wrapped package was wiggling just a wee bit under the Christmas tree.
You heard scratches. Sniffs and snuffs.
And there it was, that package that made a tardy, mysterious appearance before the family holiday gathering, landed in your lap.
It indeed wiggled and sniffed and lo and behold, it was alive!
Your childhood dream has come true: Santa brought you the Puppy in the Window.
Now that we are two weeks into the new year and everyone’s schedule has gone back to classrooms and boardrooms, decisions have to be made and rules have to be set.
Luckily, plenty of experts are available to offer guidelines to help with this process.
First, if your new pooch came from a rescue group a home visit already has been made and experts have discussed the type of dog suitable for your family. Expert dog behaviorist Cesar Milan told The Today Show earlier this month that the first consideration when adopting a dog is energy level.
Do you want a Labrador Retriever or a Border Collie who requires lots of exercise and open space? or would a terrier breed who might be comfortable getting exercise in a fenced year be more appropriate? or how about a senior dog who would be a great companion for some less-intensive energy folks in your home?
Here’s a quick list of tips to help you make healthy and happy pets part of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2013.
Exercise time is play time! Strive for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week for your pooch. Walks, runs, quick jaunts on cross-country skis? Find a location that permits dogs. Instead of heading to the YMCA for fitness, trying incorporating dogtime with fitness time and battle the bulge together. DogTrekker newsletter offers a list of dog-friendly places to explore, complete with a calendar. Sign up for the weekly newsletter and go explore!
Set a schedule. Consider what kind of schedule you can keep these early weeks and build on it. Dogs thrive best on routine. If their morning walk if before breakfast, they will run to their leash as you drink your coffee. If the morning jaunt is after breakfast, they will run to their leash as you are donning your socks. The littlest habits you have will serve as indicators for “what’s next” to a dog.
Enroll in training class. As one new parent of two rescue pups noted, “I brought the kids. This is for everyone!” She is right. Classes are not about “training” the dogs, it’s about building a relationship. These sessions teach consistency. If you want your dog to sit, use the same command each time. Trainers at PetCo routinely tell enrollees to use verbs. If you want your dog to come or stop jumping, do not just repeat Rover’s name, say name and add the command: “Rover down” “Rover come.” Be specific. Be consistent.
Set mealtime rules. Most veterinarians recommend twice daily feeding and puppy-specific chow. Kibble is best for building strong teeth, but during summer heat, add a bit of wet food. Trainers also recommend being close while a pooch is digging into chow so as to prevent a dog from developing food-aggression around the food bowl.
Get thee to a veterinary practice! Depending on the age of your new pooch, you may not be out and about at dog parks for a few weeks. Most rescue groups and shelters do not adopt out dogs until 3 months. Rottweilers are particularly susceptible to the Parvo virus and are not recommended to visit public parks until they have finished their first round of vaccinations. But do your research and select a vet quickly to get Rover started on flea prevention, heartworm protection right away.
No identity crisis here! Sacramento City Shelter and Sacramento County Shelter and most veterinary practices offer the microchip ID. It’s a painless procedure that helps reunite pets with their owners by providing a unique ID number and a phone number. The problem with young pups is that the microchips move and likely should be replaced at about 18 months of age.
For more information on bringing a pet into your home, visit the Humane Society tips page.