It’s a pretty bold statement, but my dog is really awesome. When I was thinking about getting a puppy, we had many talks about what kind of dog we wanted and how we would raise him. We knew that there was a chance that owning a dog, with all the responsibilities that come with it, would be more work or harder or just not as fun as we thought. But after nearly two years I can only say: my dog – our dog – is just awesome. How did we get so lucky to have him?
When you decide to get a dog, you have to think really hard about why you want a dog, and what you hope to get out of it. Then you have to think about what you have to offer a dog and how you can make its life as great as possible. Only then can you think about whether you want to adopt a full grown dog from a shelter, or maybe opt for a puppy and all the work that comes with it. And after that, think about how large a dog would fit in your life. If you live in a smallish appartment it would be cruel to get a Great Dane, for instance. That would be stressfull for them and for you (“No, Hamlet! Don’t wag your tail near the … vase … oh.”). It is also importent to think about things such as what you would do when you go on holiday: is there someone to take care of the dog? Do you want to bring them along? Can you? And what about your partner, and kids, and roommates? Will they enjoy having a dog as well?
I think we got an awesome dog, because we took plenty of time to think about what it meant to add a dog to our family. We talked about what we would allow and what we would not allow. We made comprimises: I reluctantly agreed not to let the dog sleep on our bed; he agreed that we would often take the dog with us when shopping or traveling. Through all the talks we understood what we wanted and needed. So when we brought a puppy home, we were on the same page. Giving our puppy clear and consistent rules helped him to become the awesome dog he is now.
Our chihuahua is a robust and healthy dog, who understands two languages and a little bit of ‘cat’. He trusts us, and he listens when he needs to (or wants to). When we leave and he has to stay hom, he goes into his ‘room’ with his toys and his bed (and fresh water the cats can’t get to). And he doesn’t complain! He doesn’t bark or whine. He knows we’ll be back, thanks to the training we did when he just moved in. Frankly, I think he enjoys the quiet time in his room. But he also enjoys going shopping with us and seeing new things. He does not freak out on public transport and greets everyone who gets on the bus as a long lost friend. As small as he is, he jumps in the bus on his own and leaves the bus on his own four paws. He loves long walks in the parks just as much as sitting under the table in a café. In short: he likes everything we do, because he really is part of our lives.
How do you get an awesome dog? Treat them right: right for you and right for them. Make compromises, don’t expect things they can’t do, but don’t let them get bored. Read as many books on dog care as you can and compare! Don’t go for one single method, but pick bits and things from theories and methods that work for you. But above all: be loving, be consistent and be inclusive. And be prepared, because whether you have a puppy or a grown dog: dogs are hard work.