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Giving the New Dog a Test Run

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We’ve all heard the familiar pleas: “Can we get a dog?” “I want a dog, look how cute he is!” Dogs are tons of fun and having a canine companion is great, but what’s involved with owning a dog can catch a person off guard. Every year at this time, animal shelters see a surge in surrendered dogs after new owners find the challenge of parenting a furbaby too difficult.

So how about this rogue idea for first timers or parents teaching their children – set up practice sessions (think training trials for humans) and actually do several of the things involved with being a dog guardian BEFORE actually getting a real live dog? Test the waters so to speak. A stuffed animal dog would be a light and funny surrogate, a form of “successive approximation” for dog owners! After all, people have carried around a sack of flour to simulate what it might be like to have a baby…

What does a first time dog owner need?

Owning a dog for the first time is fun, but it’s important to be prepared and know exactly what you’ll need first before committing to getting a dog. Some of the most important things you’ll need as a first time dog owner include food and water bowls, a collar and leash, an appropriately sized bed, toys, dog waste bags for walks, a dog brush, nutritious food, treats and a reliable local veterinarian.

Have any questions about how to prepare for being a new dog owner? Call Carolina Ranch to have all of your questions answered today!

What to think about before owning a dog?

Dogs are great companions and a lot of fun, but it’s important to consider everything involved with taking care of a dog before you get one. Dogs require a lot of love and attention, so it’s important that you’re able to dedicate time throughout the day to play with them, take them for walks and engage with them. Most dog breeds also shed and produce pet dander, so you’ll want to research hypoallergenic breeds if you’re an allergy sufferer. Dogs can also be expensive to take care of. If paying for vet visits and regularly buying food, toys and other things your dog will need is outside of your current budget, it may not be the best time for you to own a dog yet.

What age should I get a dog?

Dogs are a lot of fun to have for any age, and it can be particularly good for children to grow up around dogs. Having a dog as a child can lead to healthier psychological development and can also help to reduce feelings of anxiety. However, taking care of a dog requires time, commitment and patience. If you are at an age or time in your life where you cannot fully commit to caring for a dog, it may be best to wait on adopting a dog until the timing is better.

A sample routine to try with the kids or yourself might involve waking up an hour earlier, going for a 30-minute walk before school or work and being outside in all kinds of weather at different times of day to simulate potty breaks. Heck, even have the kids practice picking up poo with shiny new poo tools and live to tell about it!  Is there a family member who might be able to pop home midday and see how our surrogate dog (let’s call him “Rex”) is doing? After all, dogs love their people, so time apart is hard on them, but it can be made better with food puzzles, toys or chews and creating positive associations to alone time.

This could get even more authentic if we assume it’s an 8-week-old puppy! Adding nighttime potty runs to the practice schedule would be awesome! According to the guidelines, generally speaking an 8-week-old puppy can hold its potty for about 3 hours during the day, (possibly longer at night) but let’s assume it’s 3 hours for the practice runs if Rex is “empty” when put to bed. That would look like this: Go to bed at 10:00 p.m., set alarm for 1:00 a.m., get up at 1:00, go outside to the future potty spot, stand there for 10 minutes freezing to death trying not to step in “anything,” come back inside (don’t play with Rex now) then try to get back to sleep. Repeat at 4:00 a.m. Yikes! That right there might make the case for some people to consider adopting an adult dog – mission accomplished!

How far might a person go into exploring modern dog culture with these practice set ups? I say, “Knock yourself out!” You might turn some heads at the dog park with Rex so be sure to tell those “real dog” snobs not to judge! Be sure to get him out of there quickly if he seems too “popular” with the crowd being stuffed and all...

Living together with people or pets always involves a certain degree of compromise. It’s either worth it to you or it’s not. Spending a little time getting out of your current routine and practicing “what if” scenarios before bringing a sentient being into your home certainly couldn’t hurt. The more prepared you feel, the more confidence you’ll have.  (Although Rex’s perfect behavior, quiet demeanor and zero potty accidents might lull you into a false sense of security about how easy it might be.)

Here’s what it boils down to: If you and/or your kids survive the “practice dog ownership” trials with Rex, who doesn’t give you any love in return, and you are still looking forward to bringing a new dog into your life, then you are one awesome candidate for “Pet Parent of the Year!” They say, “Practice makes perfect” but perfection is not a requirement here, just a willingness to work together and figure things out if you choose to embark on the journey. After all, your new dog will do most of the heavy lifting. If you need suggestions on where to find your new best friend, try rescue groups like Johnston County Animal Protection League, Rescue Ur Forever Friend, the Johnston County Animal Shelter, the Wake County Animal Shelter or other great rescue groups. Rescued pets show love and gratitude like nothing else!

 

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6129 NC Hwy 42 West
Garner, NC 27529