Want a puppy? Do your homework!
Have you ever met someone and thought, “Gosh, they really should have done homework and researched before they did that?” I have seen it all too many times lately. It’s spring, and everyone seems to want to rush out and get an adorable puppy or kitten without doing their homework first.
I had a couple the other day who purchased a Pug from a breeder and did not have a clue about the breed. They just thought it was a cute dog and wanted it for their son. The couple was very sweet, and had had other types of dogs before, but they had no clue about Pugs. They had no idea that they shed or anything about the grumbling noises Pugs make or that the snore when they sleep.
I was asked, “How can you train them not to make that noise?”
I laughed and replied, “You don’t, its just part of them.”
They Just Wanted a Pug
I have seen this many, many times with other breeds. I have seen people get a Labrador and then be very unhappy with it because the breed takes so long to mature and the Lab chews on everything. Well, you have a dog that is designed to want something in its mouth at all times, your job is to train it not to chew and destroy whatever is in its mouth. Train them just to hold onto it or retrieve it. I typically get the blank stare of well how do you do that? Training is key with all animals, if you want your animal to behave a specific way, you have to teach it, just like if it was a small child.
If you are unsure how to do this, or there is a behavior that you are not even sure how to start training to correct, it’s time to seek the assistance of a professional trainer. There are group classes that are held at your local pet stores such as Petsmart and Petco.
If you have an unusual behavior that may not be covered in your basic obedience or behavior class, there are lists of professional trainers in your area. They can be found on the Internet at web sites like K9 Management, or in the phone book.
It’s true that getting the assistance of a professional trainer can be a bit expensive, but so can replacing your molding in your home, your shoes, and whatever else your new found chewer decided would be fun to play with.
Remember that a dog does not destroy these things because he wants to make you upset: dogs live in the moment, and that moment to them was FUN, so even though you “punish” your dog, they have no idea why you are mad at them. Just because they chewed on your new Armani handbag hours ago, they cannot make the association between your anger and the handbag they destroyed.
Do Your Homework and You’ll Ace the Canine Quiz
Before I got my first Pug, I researched a TON of other dogs. I went from wanting a Bloodhound, to a Border Collie, to a Maltese, to a Pug. WOW that’s a lot of different breeds, with a lot of different attributes. How did I know that Pug was the right one for me and the other ones were not?
I did my homework.
I was 13 years old at the time. So IF I, a 13 year old girl, can figure this out, any adult should be able to with no problems. In other words, it’s not that hard. Find breed characteristics that match your personality or even ones you just like. In my case, I found all sorts of breeds that I thought matched me, and then slowly determined WHY they were not a good match.
I determined that Bloodhounds were too much of a wonder and slow to mature, with a lot of documentation about of them swallowing toys and other valuables during early development. Since this was MY dog, I would be responsible for replacing those items, and I determined that the breed would be too much work for me.
During that time, I really wanted to get into showing dogs, and I thought it would be fun to do agility training with a Border Collie, but in researching the breed more, I found that they need constant stimuli, need to herd, and, in short, need a job to do. Well, being a teenager, you could see how far that may have gone.
The Maltese is such an elegant breed with its long flowing hair and its charming personality, but did I really want a dog that needs pampering? I would have to pay for grooming and brush it every day. That breed would be more than a bit of work.
The Breed For Me
Now why was the Pug was this the breed for me? Simple: big dog personality in a small package (which sometimes got my pug into trouble). As far as day to day living, the Pug is fairly low maintenance. They are easy to groom, and they get along with children and other animals well. They are friendly and outgoing and a perfect-sized house dog.
That’s not to say they without some drawbacks. There are a host of genetic issues that play into a Pug’s health, and while the dog is generally a good spirited breed, they are known to have medical issues, from soft pallet to eye problems, spinal or joint issues, and skin allergies. An active dog for short periods, they require a very good diet, with no grain or corn products being ideal.
Do your homework PLEASE.
Pugs have to be next to you: they are bred to be a companion animal, and they will become your shadow. Some people find this an endearing trait; others find this to be an annoyance.
House-training can sometimes take longer with this breed (I was lucky, and my pug only took a week to house-train, but do not think this is normal). The breed SHEDS. I could make another whole Pug out of the hair mine has shed every day for the last 16 years. You also have to clean their wrinkles, including the select few who only have a nose wrinkle. Still, it must be cleaned. I use non scented baby wipes for this.
What’s more, Pugs snore, they grumble, and they breathe heavily. They do not do well in extreme heat or cold and need an air-conditioned and well heated house.
The point is, I determined all the positive and negative aspects of the breed before I purchased one. You cannot just look at a breed of dog and say, "I want that, they are the perfect dog for me," and then get it home and realize that the breed is known for XXX negative behaviors or genetic anomalies.
I found that the negatives vs. the positives for Pugs were something I was able to work with. Like I mentioned, my dog lived to be 16 years old; that’s a pretty good age for a Pug. Because I took care of him and did my homework is why he lived to such an age (normal is 12-14 years).
Read, research, talk to breeders, go to dog shows, or breed specific rescue groups; anyone who truly loves the breed will be happy to give you the information you request. Pugs, like many breeds, have specific genetic traits that have been passed on for hundreds or (in some breeds) even thousands of years. Do your homework, make sure the breed fits you and your lifestyle, and you will have a life long friend.
As always remember pets are forever, they are not disposable. You are responsible for them for their entire life.
What’s your favorite breed? How did you do your homework?