Christmas is not the recommended time for purchasing or adopting a dog. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be puppies finding new homes before the end of the year.
No matter what size or breed is selected, dog owners are responsible for making sure the animal receives the proper training and socialization necessary for being a well-behaved pet. For puppies, Kansas State University veterinarian Susan Nelson recommends that they be treated like they’re going to be service dogs.
“Interact with someone’s kids,” Nelson suggested. “Go up and meet people in wheelchairs; see bikes going past them. Meet people of different nationalities and of different colors; loud noises -- these are all things we do to socialize dogs that are going through and are going to be service dogs.”
Nelson says there’s no reason we can’t do this training with our pets.
“They may not be a service dog, but we do want them to be a good member of our family,” Nelson said. “You want to be proud of your dog; you want to be able to take it outside and have it around people and not have to worry about it barking and snapping, doing things like that.”
Getting started with training at a young age is key for pets, and interaction with people outside of the home should begin as soon as possible. Puppy training classes can be started one week after the first set of vaccinations have been given.
Even with proper training, Nelson says caution should always be exercised when interacting with dogs, especially when young children are present.
“The bottom line is, they are still animals,” Nelson said. “We can never completely trust an animal to not potentially bite, and it could be maybe they were stepped on or pulled on, and there was an inciting cause. We should never, though, leave our infants and our toddlers, or our young children, unattended with a poet, no matter how good they are.
Nelson says prospective pet owners should consider the characteristics of the breed they want, the care and training needs they require, and how they fit in with the family.