What to expect before adopting – Puppy edition
Playful puppies: Eight weeks to 20 weeks
Benefits of adopting a puppy include the ability, at this age more than any other, for you to influence your dog’s temperament (the puppy’s critical socialization period is up until 16 weeks). Yet taking care of a puppy is much more time consuming then caring for most adult or senior dogs. Benefits and challenges include:
Puppies are like babies.
They learn from every interaction with you and require consistent guidance, a patient teacher, and an extraordinary amount of attention.
Puppies may engage in play biting and chew furniture or other household items.
A seven to nine week old puppy will need to go out and eliminate approximately every three hours during the day – however, a puppy must also be supervised continuously when you’re together until he can hold his bladder and bowels and eliminate in the chosen area (crate training will help speed up this process). Will you or someone else be able to come home during the day to let your puppy outside? Even puppies older than nine weeks can only be left alone for short periods. To determine the time, calculate one hour for every month of your puppy’s age, than add one. For example, a four month-old puppy can regularly be left alone for five hours.
You will need to wake up earlier in the mornings to let your puppy out and you may also need to set your alarm in the middle of the night for a couple of days or weeks if your puppy has a small bladder. You are raising a puppy during its critical socialization period – if you spend little time at home and the puppy is not adequately socialized during this time you can contribute to future behaviour problems including fear and/or aggression. Fortunately, most people raise puppies well so if you don’t have time to raise a puppy there are many adolescent, adult or senior dogs who have wonderful temperaments and need a home. Dogs of any age can bond very strongly to their new owner – and many older adopted dogs form a very quick and intense bond.
Special notes: Adopting a puppy before eight weeks of age is not recommended. Developmentally, puppies are not ready to leave their litter mates or their mother until they are seven or eight-weeks-old. Mixed breeds are considered more resistant to certain health problems than purebred dogs. A dog’s individual temperament, not his or her sex, determines their level of affection, activity level etc. If you are a sedentary person, adopting a high energy dog would be doing both the animal and yourself a disservice.
If you are ready for a dog in your life, please visit your nearest Ontario SPCA adoption centre. If on your first visit you don’t find the dog for you – don’t worry – visit as many times as you like to meet the new dogs at the shelter and to find one that captures your heart! For help making your adoption successful dog training is invaluable! Read our fact sheet on How to Choose a Dog Trainer to help you get started. Also, read the fact sheet 10 Tips to a Successful Adoption for tips to help you make your adoption successful.
Visit iadopt.ca to learn more about adopting!
Wish to thank everyone involved
I wish to thank everyone involved in the care and rescue of animals, especially volunteers.