National Puppy Day is on March 23 and is a day to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives.
It’s also a day to help save homeless puppies across the globe and raise awareness about the dark nature of puppy mills and backyard breeding practices by choosing to adopt not shop.
Unfortunately I believe some people are still getting a puppy without understanding or being prepared to put in the time and effort to ensure it gets the love, training and care it deserves and needs to grow up. This is essential to ensuring the puppy grows up into a confident, well-adjusted and healthy adult dog.
I find people are also often inadvertently supporting puppy mills or backyard breeders by making rushed decisions, buying online or focusing on the latest breed trend and ‘look’, rather than exploring all avenues and options available to them.
It may require a bit of time and patience, but adopting a puppy or considering an alternative pet, is something I always like to urge people to think about instead.
In an effort to help reduce the number of dogs ending up in animal pounds and shelters, which is my ultimate goal through all of my ventures, here are my top tips for how you can celebrate and support National Puppy Day.
1. Ensure you’re truly prepared for getting a puppy
Dogs live an average 10 years and cost around $25,000 in their lifetime, so considering getting a puppy requires long term thinking. I really do suggest honestly asking yourself:
• Are you financially able to provide the training, quality diet, vet care and other expenses?
• Does your lifestyle or family situation suit a puppy (ie: do you work long hours leaving them alone, travel a lot, have young children etc.)
• Do you have the time to provide them with the exercise, socialisation and human companionship they need?
2. Consider adopting a puppy
There are plenty of options for adopting a puppy or dog. You can adopt a puppy from your local shelter or rescue organisation. Alternatively, you can seek to adopt a dog that has already gone through the intensive puppy stages.
Many animal shelters are full of dogs that are still only 12-18 months of age due to people surrendering their dog once it grows out of the cute puppy phase. These dogs are still suitable for development and training, but also come with a temperament test and support of the shelter/foster system. This gives you the support and confidence knowing they are willing and able to assist you on your journey together.
3. Socialise and train your puppy
What happens to a puppy in the first four months life is critical in forming their behaviour and memories. Whether these memories are good or bad they will stay with the dog for the rest of its life, so ensure your puppy gets the love, training, socialisation and care it deserves!
It’s vital that as soon as you get your puppy home that you start your socialisation program or puppy school to ensure they are exposed in a calm and positive way to as many people, noises, environments, objects and anything else they may encounter in their future as possible. This goes a long way to preventing a lot of the reactivity, anxiety and other phobia issues that as a trainer, I encounter every day.
4. Provide your puppy with appropriate toys
Puppies love to chew so it is important you provide them with safe alternatives, so they don’t find your toys, shoes or furniture to satisfy their chewing needs.
Non-toxic, safe and appropriately sized chew toys can help, especially during teething stages, while interactive treat dispensing toys are a great way to help develop your puppy’s problem-solving skills and provide them with the extra mental and physical stimulation all dog’s need.
5. Support other puppies and dogs in need
If you aren’t currently in a position or not considering getting your own puppy or dog, there are still plenty of other ways to celebrate National Puppy Day and support dogs such as. This includes:
• Donating food, toys, accessories or money to your local shelter or see if they require any volunteers to socialise with their puppies, walk their dogs, clean cages or help out at local fundraising events.
• Assisting neighbours, family or friends with the care of their puppy or dog. I am a big advocate for helping out neighbours, friends or family with looking after their puppy or dog to ensure it gets the care and socialisation it needs, rather than everyone rushing out to get their own. Particularly elderly neighbours who can’t provide their dogs with the exercise they need.
As an Ambassador for Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR), if you would like to help those puppies and dogs in need, please consider making a small donation for National Puppy Day to help fund their community animal hospital and shelter that is in desperate need of funding to help them continue their work.
It has been a catastrophic start to 2020 that looks set to continue for the foreseeable future and it has hit SCAR hard and threatens to close their doors which has far reaching consequences. To find out more about their work and how you can help or donate please visit their website.