What a Puppy is Not

A puppy is one of the most appealing creatures on earth. He's the embodiment of exuberance, humor and affection. But there are a great many things that a puppy is not, and these negative aspects deserve some thought before you bring a puppy home.

A puppy is not a toy to be enjoyed while he is a novelty, then set aside in favor of a new diversion. He is a living thing whose physical demands must be met constantly for as long as he lives. A young puppy needs more sleep than a human infant, even though your children may be in the mood to play with him. He needs to be fed regularly and often, even though his meals may conflict with the family plans. A young puppy is breakable. Very young children can inflict unintended tortures on a puppy, especially one of the small or fine-boned breeds. His broken leg is much harder to fix than the broken wheel of a toy truck.

A puppy is not a teaching aid guaranteed to instill a sense of responsibility in children. If a child loves his dog, he will probably enjoy brushing him, taking him for walks, filling his water dish and other tasks. A sense of responsibility may well grow out of the relationship, but it is unfair to the animal to put his entire well-being into the hands of children. Even the most dog-loving children tire of daily chores, and parents who try to force the regime will be asking for problems. Unfortunately, it is the puppy who is the loser in this battle. Responsibility lessons are better left to tasks that do not involve a pet. The essentials of feeding, housebreaking, disciplining and obedience training should be done by an adult member of the household. Children can help with the less essential jobs like walking or brushing, but should be supervised by an adult. Supervision should also be by an adult at play time if the children are very young, under teenage years.

A puppy is not an on-the-spot decision purchase, or at least it should not be. The wrong dog can be an unending nuisance to a household. It is much easier to purchase a puppy than it is to find a new home for a grown dog who did not work out due to irresponsibility. Animal shelters are overwhelmed with dogs who were purchased for the wrong reasons or without sufficient investigation. If your family has decided to purchase a puppy, by all means, take the time to learn about the breed you have in mind. Every breed has characteristics of temperament, activity level and general caretaking needs for that particular breed. Some breeds are prone to physical problems such as hip dysplasia, cancer, seizures, etc. If you are aware of these concerns, you can do a more intelligent job of selecting your special puppy. Most breeders will be glad to answer your questions and to help you locate the puppy you want. If you take time to do some investigating beforehand, you will know what to expect from the bundle of fluff that you bring home. Many puppies are bought impetuously because they looked cute or another family pet has passed away. Puppies bought without being genuinely wanted and planned for too often end up at the animal shelter or worse yet, being "put down!"

A puppy is not a gift unless the giver is certain that this particular puppy will be wanted. Not only now, but a year from now, ten years from now. Even then, the puppy should be selected by his new guardian rather than by someone else. The puppy that appeals to one might not appeal to someone else. It is a matter of chemistry; like love at first sight.

A puppy is not self cleaning. There will be puddles on rugs, upset stomachs occasionally on the floor, dog hair on clothing and furniture. If those prospects are intolerable to anyone in the house, then perhaps the pleasures of owning a puppy will be overshadowed by the tension it will cause. Long-haired breeds need to be groomed regularly as a puppy and an adult. Some breeds tend to matt in a short time and these need to be tended to on a regular basis. Mattes and ungroomed coats irritate, pull and make excellent hiding places for fleas and skin disorders.

A puppy is not cheap. Whether you pay a nominal fee at the humane society shelter or what seems to be an unbelievable amount for a purebred, registered puppy, the money paid to make the pup yours is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what it will cost to provide for him. There will be veterinary bills to pay for both emergencies and routine vaccinations and checkups. There are also legal aspects that people do not think of, such as personal injury claims, be it bodily or clothing torn, when your dog becomes over exuberant at play. Replacement of grass or shrubbery if your dog ruins a neighbor's yard. There is also the wear and tear of furniture and carpet in your own home.

A puppy is not an adult dog. He has neither the physical or mental ability to perform as an adult dog would. He cannot go for long periods of time without relieving himself. He cannot tolerate harsh training methods (adult dogs, as well, should not be trained harshly), nor can he make a choice as to what can harm him. He will try the patience of the most genuine dog lover in the family and, at times, he may drive everyone crazy. If he is very young, he may cry during the first night or two in his new home. He will require patience and understanding from everyone living with him.

A puppy is not a puppy for long. Before you are taken in by the cuteness of any breed of puppy, as they are all cute, be very sure that you want not only a puppy as he is now, but also the gangly, unattractive adolescent he is about to become and the adult dog who may fall short of what you had hoped for. If you have faced all the negative aspects and still want a puppy, chances are good that your new puppy will be one of the lucky ones who finds a permanent, happy, loving home. You will enjoy the rewards of planned-puppyhood and dog guardianship, of which the rewards will far override the drawbacks.

This article, for the most part, can be applied to the acquisition of an adult dog, but some modifications would need to be made accordingly. Happy puppy searching and reap the rewards!

Acknowledgement: Author Unknown