101 Things New Dog Owners Should Know (but I didn't)
I still find myself making mistakes all the time. One could only hope that GG's half as patient with me as I am with him. It's been a steep learning curve, which is why I'm putting everything I know here in one place. I'm not a dog expert - far from it. I'm just an oftentimes anxious dog owner who hopes that sharing these information could help anyone looking to get a new puppy.
The purchase price of the dog is just a tiny fraction of what it will cost to raise a dog. This is not to say that you should only get a dog if you are well off. It's just that not unlike human baby, dogs need your time, love and constant care. They could live up to 15 years, sometimes more. They are long term investment, so be fully prepared lest you have buyer's remorse later on. Find a breed that suits your lifestyle, put emphasis on prevention care and insure him so that you're always covered. You'll find yourself spending the most in the first three months. Structure a monthly budget for your dog's spending and (at least try to) stick to it.
from backyard breeders, which is a term for unregistered, often inexperienced people breeding dogs mainly for commercial gain. I got GG from a family that I now suspect as a BYB. I didn't get to see the parents and wasn't aware that it's crucial to check the parents' temperament. It was a by-the-door transaction, which at that time I chucked to the owners being reluctant for a stranger to come into their house. The puppy was adorable, already wormed, vet checked and vaccinated and I didn't think much of it. I have to say, 3 months in, GG is a lot of work, temperament wise. We're already in love with him and willing to work on these issues, but you may find that getting a certifiably healthy puppy with excellent temperament from reputable breeders would pay off in the long run.
Different breeds have different grooming needs. You should check if they shed a lot and or / require extensive grooming (read: $$$). Maltese will disappear into a huge matted cotton fur ball (not as cute as it sounds) if not regularly brushed and groomed. Breeds who shed less would suit those with allergies. Full grooming in Sydney starts at $60 for a small breed, which is no small deal. Want a low maintenance dog? Get a miniature pinscher, toy fox terrier or short coat chihuahua. Alternatively, learn to groom them yourself.
I have been told - and I concur - that Christmas is the worst time to get a new puppy, even though you'll often see puppies given as Christmas presents. The first 4 months of a dog's life is crucial as they need regular walks, training and play time. They may need to be enrolled in puppy school and obedience class and go to dog parks. All of these take significant amount of time that you may not have during busy holiday season, especially if you plan to vacation somewhere and leave the pup by themselves.
If you are a parent getting a puppy for your kids, please be prepared to be the puppy's real owner. Dog isn't a tool to teach kids responsibility. The key is to show your kids how to care for their furry friend, not hand the puppy over and hope they magically have the knowledge to raise a dog. They won't, although that would be a Christmas miracle.
Vaccination is generally required in Australia and I'm not against it. I've seen the arguments from both sides and agreed moderately to both. What I know is that GG couldn't stand up for a night after his second C5 shot, which was a normal reaction, and that he developed severe reaction two weeks after his final C5 shot. He had fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, joint swelling, swelling on the back of his neck, weak hind legs, internal inflammation and high white blood cell count which were attributed as side effects of the vaccine. It was a scary, scary time.
The amount of vaccine given to a small and large dog is the same. If I could do it again, I would NOT inject his tiny body with 5 vaccines at the same time. There is a real danger of overvaccination and before GG's given annual vaccine booster, I will first ask for a Titre test, to check for his antibody level and determine whether a booster is even needed. It's more costly than say, a combo C5 at the vet's office, but I owe it to him not to hurt him in my attempt to prevent diseases.
I realise that this isn't exactly 101 things, but we'll get there. Meanwhile, if you have any tips to share, please do :)