Critter Corner: The big question is, puppy or mature dog?

Dear Miss Behavin’: I’m considering adopting a new dog, but I am torn whether to get a puppy or more mature dog. Any advice?

Reply: Everyone considering getting a new dog should ask themselves this question. Many people opt for puppies, but afterward realize that the time commitment was too much. It also depends what you mean by “puppy.” Puppies under 8 weeks of age should be with their mother, so typically if you adopt or purchase a puppy, it will be anywhere between 8 weeks and one year of age.

If your puppy is between 12-16 weeks old or younger, she is going to require socialization with new dogs and people. “Socialization” doesn’t mean just throwing your puppy into hectic situations. It means carefully choosing situations where your puppy will have positive experiences, catering to her individual personality. For example, if you have a puppy that is on the shy side, you’ll want her to meet new people in quiet, low-pressure settings and let her make the first move.

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In addition to socialization, young puppies will need instruction on housetraining, what they can and cannot chew on, and how to entertain themselves when left alone. Puppies are a lot of work, but if you have the time now, the payoff can be huge. But don’t just consider your current living situation. Your dog will hopefully live anywhere from 10 to 16 years, so you must also think about where you will be in the future. If you can’t make that long of a commitment, it would be better to consider an older dog.

Dogs 1-2 years of age are in the adolescent stage, which means that just like with humans, you should be prepared to deal with excess energy and bouts of stubbornness. If you work long hours or are looking for an even shorter commitment, consider a great senior dog that might be overlooked due to his age. These dogs often come mostly trained and won’t need as much daily exercise. No matter what age dog you choose, we always recommend signing up for a training class to start off on the right paw.

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

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