Ken Hough's Website

Puppy or rescue Dog?

Many folks decide to take a "rescue dog". Two reasons for this might be:

-- to help an unfortunate homeless dog

-- do not wish to have the added commitment and cost of taking on a puppy.

Both are perfectly understandable and sensible reasons. Do bare in mind that a rescue dog is likely to be more or less traumatised and could take some time to settle and learn to trust again. Some never seem to completely re-settle and trust might only be limited. Do check on the background of the dog and don't be drawn in by a pair of sad looking eyes.

I have never had a rescue dog and make these comments based on observing how others get on with their rescue dogs. Please remember that in taking on a rescue dog, you could be having to overcome a very hurtful and upsetting past. Dogs are sensitive creatures.

Taking on a puppy is more difficult and initially is more time consuming, but perhaps also less problematical. Puppies should leave their litter at 8 weeks old. Definitely no earlier. At this age they are gaining in independence, but are still babies. They need a lot of TLC if they are to develop into confident and social dogs.

It is very important that between the ages of 8 weeks and 16 weeks, puppies are gently exposed to as many different experiences as is possible, including contact with people including children, and with other dogs. This helps to build their confidence more than at any other time in their lives. This period is also when the strongest and most lasting of bonds can be formed between owner and dog.

Until puppies have been fully immunised against parvo virus, disemper,etc (at about 12 weeks old ?), contact with other dogs should be limited to those that are known to have been immunised against these diseases.

Having a puppy does involve a lot of work. Assuming that the puppy is to live indoors, it will be necessary to make arrangements to accommodate feeding, sleeping, toileting, and the need to chew on solid objects -- including unprotected furniture!

Young puppies are used to having lots of close contact with their mother and siblings. By giving lots of TLC and close contact, new owners can avoid unnecessary distress and howling. I spent the first few nights with my pups in close contact with me. They were not left to feel alone and lonely. There was no howling and over the next few nights, they settled well to sleep in their own beds.

Prior to collecting my pups, I visited the litters so that they could become used to me and my smell. Many responsible breeders will allow and even encourage this.

Initially, toileting can be tiresome. At 8 weeks old, puppies have very limited control over their bodily functions. Sheets of polythene can protect carpets, etc, and newspaper will quickly absorb moisture. Movement about the house can be restricted by temporarily erecting barriers made of chipboard. All small, delicate, important objects must be moved so as to remain well out of reach. Puppies grow up quickly and are very inquisitive!

Toileting problems will normally be resolved after a few months. By this time, puppies will be approaching adolescence and will be full of energy and curiosity. That's when the hard work of training can really begin.

I find that nurturing a puppy through from the early stages into adulthood to be very satisfying and quite special. But it does require a lot of time and commitment.

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