Getting my first dog!

Shortly after my boyfriend and I bought our first house, I saw my chance to finally get a dog. Luckily my boyfriend was fine with the idea of getting a dog so I immediately started browsing the net and reading books. It occurred to me that actually getting a dog is quite a difficult task and you need to make lots of decisions: do you want a puppy or an older dog? Should it be a specific breed and if so which one? Do you want a male or a female dog? There is so much choice…

 

Do I want a puppy or an adult dog?

I think this was the most easy choice for us since we both have a fulltime job a puppy wasn’t really feasible for us. Although I work two times a week from home, have all weekends free and are at home around 15 o’clock, a puppy takes all your time.

Although I loved the idea of having a fluffy cute baby dog in house which I could cuddle to death I knew that it wasn’t the right choice for us. We simply hadn’t enough time for a puppy. A puppy needs a lot of attention and training which we couldn’t provide.

Therefore we decided to look for an adult dog. Getting an adult dog can have a lot of benefits. What you see is what you get! You can take into account the size and personality of the dog. An adult dog will not grow anymore, nor will he have drastic personality changes. This way you can choose the optimal dog for your particular situation and integrate him in your life. In our case, we wanted a calm, medium sized dog, that was “potty trained”.

 

Choosing a male or a female dog?

When looking on the internet I found so much information about the “pro’s and con’s” of getting a male or a female dog that in the end I wasn’t any wiser. I think that you have to see the characteristics of a male and female dog as generalities and that they don’t always apply to all dogs! Although they say that the temperament of male vs. a female dogs differ, I believe that differences play more on an individual level than on a gender level. So, the main two things that I thought of when deciding whether a male or female would be the best choice for us were size and sexuality.

Size

In general you have to take into account that male dogs are bigger than female dogs! Although this also depends on the breed you choose it is still something you need to think about. Is your house big enough for a big dog? Do you have enough space in your car? Are you able to lift the dog? Will you able to control the dog when (s)he gets excited, anxious or even aggressive? You also have to think about the money you will have to spend on food. A male will probably need more food since he his bigger.

Sexuality

As we all know, female dogs have a heat cyclus which means that you have to be prepared to take certain actions during this time of the year. Personally, this was one of the biggest reasons for me to not get a female dog. A reason for not taking a male however, could be due to the very present genitals. Some people might feel awkward to see and/or clean the genital area of male dogs, so keep this in mind too.

*Not so funny fun-fact: When living in the shelter they castrated Bobby but also had to remove his penis due to cancer. This means there are no awkard dogpenis moments and no heat cyclus stress.

 

Adopting a shelter dog or buying a (full)breed dog?

It is unbelievable how many shelter dogs there are, just waiting to get the chance of having a warm home and getting loved. Personally I always felt in love with the known dog breeds such as a Weimaraner but after realizing how many dogs there are for adoption I felt the need of helping one of the poor souls. Since, breed wasn’t an issue anymore I decided to get a dog based on his character and needs. A friend of mine told me about an organization that rescues street dogs and gives them a new live. I went on their website and couldn’t believe why so many lovely dogs were abandoned. Seeing all the photos and reading their story’s I could have taken them all but of course that wouldn’t work.

So I selected a few and showed them to my boyfriend. He didn’t felt in love so quickly as I do so it took some time until we found a dog that we liked both. Since I never had a dog before I cannot make the comparison between adopting a shelter dog and buying a (full)breed dog but here is a short pros and cons list:

Pro’s adopting

Pro’s buying a (full)breed dog

  • You are doing something good by helping an animal in need
  • You get a healthy dog that doesn’t have any negative live experiences
  • You support charity with your money which can be used to help more dogs

Con’s adopting

Con’s buying a (full)breed dog

  • You don’t always now the history of the dog. Are their hereditary diseases in his/her family? Does (s)he has traumas?
  • You spend a big amount of money on a dog although there already are hundreds of thousands of dogs of which you could choose from
  • The dog may already have some health issues
  • (full)breed dogs often have specific hereditary diseases of which you should know about

 

When we picked up Bobby to bring him home we were so astonished how nice and gentle he was. He wasn’t as wild as I expected a street dog to be. Of course it took him a few days until he fully understood that this was his home now and that we will care for him. Now, almost a year later, he is way more open and trusting but still the gentle and nice dog we met the first day.

my-first-dog-car
Taking Bobby with us. He was so nice and calm during the entire ride.

 

We now almost nothing about his past, except that he was found on the streets. Living most of his life in a shelter he was quite obese when we got him, a result of bad food and too little exercise. His teeth are also very bad which require extra attention. Coming from a foreign country and being a street dog he also didn’t know any commands at all. His age is a mystery too, although they estimated him to be 4 or 5 years old. Nevertheless I wouldn’t give him away for any money on the world!!

 

My tips on adopting a dog

Having adopted a shelter dog myself I would recommend everyone the following things:

  1. Take your time.

Really, there are so so many shelter dogs so don’t rush your decision. Try to get to know the dog and his habits. Does his character fit yours and your lifestyle? Will everybody in your family be happy with this particular dog? Can he be alone for some time, how does he react to strangers and other dogs? How does he behave in your house?

These are all aspects that nobody can tell you beforehand. After being adopted the dog will be in a complete new situation which can cause some behavioral changes/problems in the first few days. It is always smart to “test” whether the dog is the right one for you or not. A good shelter will allow you to take the dog home for a week or so in order to see whether you are the right match or not. I know, this might sound harsh, but don’t take this decision too easily. In the end you will have to live plenty of years with the dog.

 

  1. Buying too much stuff.

A mistake that I made and that cost me a lot of money was buying tons of stuff before Bobby was actually here. In the end he didn’t like most of the things I bought. Of course you should have the most basic things in house such as a drinking and eating bowl, a bed and food. Toys however can be tricky. Bobby doesn’t like most toys, because he simply never learned how to use them. I can imagine that nobody played with him during his puppy period, so fetching a ball is not familiar to him. Seeking food however is, so get to know what your dog really likes and then buy the things you need to play and engage with him.

bobby-snuffeldeken
I made this this little toy for Bobby. I hide some snacks between the different layers and he needs to find them. Bobby is a real pro in it :)

 

 

  1. Find a good vet.

If this will be your first dog, I recommend you to find a good vet beforehand. When we adopted Bobby, the first thing we did was getting him to a vet for a check-up. Ask around or look at the internet about reviews on vets. Maybe even visit the vets practice to get a better impression.

 

I hope you find this little overview useful. I would love to read your do’s and don’ts of getting a (shelter)dog.

 

Julia

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