Commentary: Bringing home a new dog |

Commentary: Bringing home a new dog

Adopting a new dog, adult or puppy, can be one of the most joyous things a family can do. To ensure that this is a happy experience, there are certain things you must do.

Do a little research and learn something about dogs. They are not four-legged furry people; they are dogs.

They are usually not wash-and-wear and require some work on the part of the family. It is important to match the dog’s personality to the family’s personality.

I read about a family that adopted a quiet bookworm type of child into their very active, athletic family. It didn’t turn out very well, unfortunately, for the child or the family. It is the same with adopting a pet.

If you are a couch potato kind of person, you don’t want a young Lab puppy. If you are an active person who runs, bikes, hikes and skis, you most likely don’t want a St. Bernard.

Often people at rescue centers and shelters can guide you in picking out the right dog. At Sammie’s Friends, we put a lot of effort into this.

Once you get the dog, you must teach it some things. They are like children. Teach them nothing and they know nothing. As a director of a shelter, I see dogs who come to us who were taught nothing as a puppy. It was cute when they jumped up and demanded attention and got their way.

At 1 years old and 65 pounds, these same activities are not cute and sometimes are even dangerous.

Imagine if you decided that all you needed to be responsible for your child is to feed him, clothe him and put a roof over his head. If you required nothing of this child, what would you have as the child became an adult? Disaster. Some of you may have had difficult teenagers. If you keep with it, you get through the teens. It’s the same with your dog.

Dog-training classes are bonding for the family and the dog. Teaching your dog can be downright fun.

Dogs can be real hams or very studious, just like people. If you are ready for a dog, the things you need to do to have a happy experience don’t seem like work, they seem like fun.

Having a good relationship with your dog is like any other relationship: it is give and take. You spend the time to properly train and care for your dog, and your dog will bring you years of pleasure.

Do nothing for the dog and you’ll have a bored dog, barking in the backyard with neighbors complaining.

Dogs are like children, they do best when they know what is expected of them and get rewarded for being well-behaved. Dogs need exercise, discipline and affection to be well-balanced and happy.

Discipline means boundaries and limits and consistency. It does not mean abuse, such as hitting or yelling. Like most of us, they do better with positive motivation. You owe it to yourself and your dog to have a great experience.

Cheryl Wicks is the executive director of Sammie’s Friends. The shelter can be reached at 530-471-5041.

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