So You Got a Dog. What The Hell Do You Do Now?
by James Hills for Club LT
Many of us refer to our dogs as our children or “fur babies”. There’s a reason for that; for many of us, adopting a dog is often the first step that a married couple makes along the path towards building a family. While this choice might be yours … or it might be hers … it will change your life and test your skills as a newly married couple.
Sadly, my dog Niki Belle passed away last year and she was essentially our “first child”. She was quite literally a test of how well we’d probably do as parents should that possibility have become reality. Now, 15 years later we’re looking at adopting again. As someone who’s been through the process, here’s what you need to know now that you’ve welcomed that fury bundle of energy into your home!
All dogs are different and even litter mates are going to have their own unique personalities. As adoptive parents you need to embrace your dog’s personality. Be observant and ready to correct any issues and bad behavior but you’ve made a commitment to love and take care of this new part of your family so you must do just that.
Prepare To Make Your Dog a Priority
Your life will change now that you have a new addition to the family. The dog in your house can’t take care of itself. That means you need to be on-call to take him or her out on a regular basis, consistent feeding times, exercise, vet checkups, and of course time to cuddle, too.
It is very important that you have time to bond when you first adopt your new dog and do so with both you and your partner evenly.
Consider Training Options
When we first adopted Niki, we took her to “puppy training” classes at a local pet store. My wife and I joke that she failed that class since we left after just a couple sessions. In reality, neither of us liked the theory of training that the instructor was using. If you feel the same way then don’t force your dog to endure something you feel is wrong for your family.
However, there are many options and tons of online resources available today. Do make sure to assert what the boundaries are and reinforce good behavior. Most dogs want to please you and I personally enjoy the natural personality that they exhibit rather than that defeated look that some overly trained dogs show. This is a member of your family, not a service dog that needs to respond immediately to orders.
However, make sure to be observant of your own abilities to train. If you see behavior such as biting, excessive barking, dominance issues, or destructive behavior then seek professional assistance immediately.
Create A Schedule And Share Responsibilities
This is going to be a major test of your relationships. Getting up at 5am because the dog is scratching at the door or taking late night potty walks isn’t fun. However, it is what your dog needs.
The key here is to share responsibilities with your partner. Set a schedule of when you’ll take the dog out and when your partner will. Establish a schedule that both of you are able to participate in and you’ll be on your way to becoming successful doggy parents.
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Don’t Freak Out Over “Accidents” But Do Let The Dog Know They Did Bad
The first time you walk into the living room and see a big ole’ turd sitting in front of the sofa is a terrible experience. Unfortunately, while this might be the first time … it won’t be the last. Dogs make mistakes and accidents happen. These can range from potty issues, to chewing your favorite pair of shoes, or being on a forbidden chair.
The important thing here is to make sure you let the dog know that he or she did bad. You must also make sure that you connect any punishment with the actual act. For instance, if you come downstairs and there is a cold turd but then you punish the dog hours later they might not know why.
Seek advice online or from a professional trainer when your dog is new to best handle these sort of situations.
Socialize Your Dog With Other Dogs
One thing that my wife and I didn’t do well was socializing Niki Belle with other dogs. We raised her as a puppy in Chicago and the dog parks were full of big dogs but she was a small one. Instead of finding puppy groups for her to play with similarly sized dogs we just kept her at home.
I can’t say for certain what would have happened if we had socialized her better. However, I do know that she never liked other dogs and we could never leave her in group daycare because she would either fight, stress out, and would ultimately isolate herself in a corner as far away from the other dogs as she possibly could.
Getting a new dog as a couple is a huge decision and one that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. However, dogs have an unbelievable ability to bring joy and happiness. It’s a two-way-street though.
Make sure to take care of your dog and he or she will take care of you too! And you take care of you too! With a daily splash of Lucky Tiger Aftershave & Face Tonic or some Lucky Tiger Muscle Rub, to soothe away the aches and strains of picking up those doggie doo-doos every day.
About James Hills
James writes the ManTripping blog and lives in southern California. For more than a decade, ManTripping has been a leading male lifestyle blog covering food, fashion, travel, toys, action and adventure – you know, man-things. James shares his wisdom regularly on Club LT and is often featured in the Club LT podcast.