Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Puppy Parenthood: Lesson 1 - Research!

The puppies Nikki rescued

Two days ago, I found out that my sister Nikki was going to rescue two puppies from a bad home. First, I applauded her for rescuing them, and second, her questions inspired me to begin a series of posts about the most important things regarding puppy parenthood. For Nikki, I am only a text message away, but for anyone without a good dog-owner contact, I hope this information will provide you with easy access to the most important puppy knowledge. Also, feel free to post additional questions to me!

Because I never grew up with dogs of my own (though I usually adopted all the neighbor’s dogs), I had to learn many things from scratch when I purchased Vander. Lucky for me, Vander’s breeder was extremely helpful and eager to share valuable experience, as many Portuguese Water Dog breeders are.

Vander's first snow

The first thing Vander’s breeder taught me about puppy parenthood was to RESEARCH. Many owners do not know what they are getting into when they pick out a dog, which is why so many end up as rescues. People pick out a dog that they think is cute, but they are unprepared for the natural instincts and tendencies that have been bred into their puppy for generations. If you can understand the job your dog was bred to perform, you have won half the battle of raising a puppy!

Here are some easy ways to research dog breeds:
  • Do a Google search on your dog’s breed. There are lots of good websites out there, and I would also recommend searching YouTube for videos.
  • Find books! You can get them from the library for free or order them online if you are looking for a rarer breed.
  • If at all possible, talk to someone who has owned a puppy of the same breed as yours. They are a wealth of information and experience! You can probably even visit the dog and see its behavior for yourself.

When I researched Portuguese Water Dogs, I learned that they were originally bred to live on boats and perform tasks like fetching nets or herding fish. This knowledge helped me understand and anticipate that my puppy might have some of the following characteristics:
  • Intelligence – Puppies can learn fast, but they can also learn how to outsmart you.
  • Mouthy – A term for a dog who likes to have something in its mouth at all times. For example: a toy, a shoe, a person’s hand.
  • Companionship – A dog who wants to be with its owner ALL the time, even in the bathroom!

Three month old Vander with toy

Sometimes, when you adopt a dog, you may not know exactly what mix of dog you are adopting. This does not mean that you cannot research what your puppy’s tendencies are! There are plenty of basic puppy books that cover the most common dog traits. Your dog will probably not display every characteristic mentioned in these books, but you will be a more prepared owner if you have a general knowledge of puppy behavior.

As you start your research, do not be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge available. More than likely, your research will not stop after you bring home your puppy, which is just fine. Continued learning is good for both you and your puppy. Have fun with it!

Two month old Vander and I

No comments:

Post a Comment