Getting a pandemic puppy? Already have one by now? You are not alone, believe me. During the past 6 months our family veterinary practice has seen a flood of these cute little fur babies arrive to help our community cope and find some joy for themselves during such stressful, challenging times. It seems that being isolated at home and fairly restricted to indoors, many of you think it is an ideal moment and great timing to raise a puppy. And you are absolutely right! Puppies can brighten your life and provide so many positives at a time when we all can truly use some help getting through our days.
Dogs make superb companions, and the benefits from having a relationship with a dog cannot be overestimated. Dogs offer us a unique form of unconditional love, while giving us tremendous daily comfort, companionship and emotional support. There is much scientific evidence that stroking a dog can provide physiological changes in our bodies including lowering our blood pressure and heart rate, plus diminishing our anxiety levels. While there is no data to prove that dog ownership will extend your life, there is substantial proof that having a canine buddy will enhance your quality of life. And we truly need that help right now more than ever. Furthermore, having a puppy to care for, to play with, to cuddle and watch over can give your day tremendous positive focus while you laugh and make great memories together!
A good first step would be determining which puppy is best for the family? Selecting a good match between your lifestyle, desires, and the type of puppy you choose to bring home is paramount. Look at your living space, what are the dog’s needs going to be as an adult? How active you are (or aren’t you)? How much exercise for the pup you can provide, and consider the amount of time you have to commit to caring for and living with your new friend. These are critical self-evaluations that should then be matched to the various needs, characteristics and requirements of the different dog breeds or hybrid puppies out there. Unfortunately, if there is a poor fit between your new dog and your home or the care that you can offer, it may be difficult to avoid some potential poor outcomes. Rehoming of dogs is never a goal for anyone, but it does seem to occur all too often.
Once your little cutie is with you, follow the guidelines of your veterinarian and breeder as they are the professionals in dog care. An early vet visit to review and discuss your puppy’s physical status, can provide health care and behavioral advice, begin puppy wellness preventive care, and spot any issues that may arise. Getting some good information on dog behavior and development is very important for all puppy parents. Your vet can offer some of this, but there are also many good resources available to help with this critical part of understanding your new pup and how to raise a good dog! Puppy safety at home and how to socialize your new puppy while minimizing infectious or parasitic health risks are also essential topics that we can cover together. Even which toys to use and play with your puppy should be a topic during your visits to the vet (hopefully, before you purchase them!).
There is a lot of information to gather and learn, but doing so in a step-wise manner, and synched to your puppy’s growth and developmental stage makes it much easier and more fun, too. Don’t forget to have loads of fun, laugh and take pix and videos because your puppy will grow-up all too soon.
But the special time spent early on in the relationship with your dog will enrich your life, and be remembered forever.
Dr Mark Donovan