Spring is in the air or if your here in Ottawa then it’s buried underneath the snow somewhere. With my fiancé and I quickly approaching our wedding (we’re tying the knot in November) the word commitment comes to mind. Now for those of you thinking of getting a dog this spring this “C” word applies to you too.  Similar to marriage being a commitment so is getting a dog especially a puppy. Let me say I love puppies my girls are 1, 1 1/2, and Opie must be about six months now (he is snoring away next to me). But puppies are a lot of work. Most of the time people are over whelmed with how cute a puppy is without really ever considering what it takes to raise a dog. Many people overlook adopting an adult dog over looking the many benefits (I mean other than giving a totally deserving guy a home). Many are already house and crate trained. Check with your local rescue or shelter to see what dogs  their care that are adults and up for adoption.

One thing to consider is exercise. It is a major factor in a dog being happy and well BALANCED. No exercise No Bueno. Sure it is easy to exercise a puppy now while he is small and a short run poops him out but what needs to be considered is what kind of exercise he will need in the future. All dogs need it large or small. Now there are a few things that vary how much exercise a dog needs. These things being age, size, energy level, sometimes even breed. Without even touching on rules, boundaries, and proper behavior. Just exercise itself is a minimum half an hour a day commitment and that would be a low energy level dog. If you fall in this category consider yourself lucky some most dogs need more. In an ideal scenario I get my pack out twice a day one Rollerblade in the AM before breakfast this helps your dog to feel as if they are working for food something they naturally do in the wild. Sometimes for the second activity we switch it up go for a walk, go to the river for a swim, go hiking, walk in the city. Variety can help when things are getting repetitive. When it’s too cold out we rent an indoor hall in Ottawa where we can play fetch, run an agility course, Stella likes to play find it (she finds a treat hidden amongst a bunch of toys and other distractions.)

Exercise is only a portion of having a balanced dog, showing him how to behave is another. It’s your responsibility to show him proper and improper behavior as well as socialization with other people and animals. Obedience and training classes can help as well. But having a well-balanced dog goes far beyond having him sit or stay. It’s our job show our dogs what are appropriate interactions with the world around them. Just getting out and walking around with your dog aids in proper socialization. He will see strangers and be put in new situations. When introducing something remember to take it slow and make it positive. Always end on a positive note. That way you dog will associate this with something positive. These are only a few of the components that when all put together give you a well-behaved balanced dog.

Back to actually getting a dog. I am a firm believer in adoption from a shelter or rescue. I hear a lot from people “well we would adopt but we want a puppy.” The rescue we foster and volunteer for BULLIES IN NEED has a bunch of puppies right now (for anyone interested in adopting outside of ONTARIO let me know). Another common one is “I want a small dog”.  Friends of mine from high school rescue Chihuahuas. Going to show dogs big and small, old and young are in need of homes all across North America. More importantly than size or breed getting a dog to match your energy level can help in having a happy home. Explain your energy level to the people at the rescue or shelter and they should be able to help match you to a suited dog. If you run 5 miles a day then you need a dog that can keep up with an active life style. If you’re more of a couch potato then a lower energy dog would suit you better. Bear in mind all dogs need exercise every day. But in this instance adopting senior dog may fit your life style better. Whatever the case may be there is a dog out there for you. He’s waiting at a shelter or rescue for you to come find him.

Despite all of our picking and choosing I believe firmly you get the dog you need not the dog you want. Let me explain. When I was living in Jersey I was having a really rough time. Some things in my life were changing and I just wasn’t happy with them.  That was when I rescued Bently. For a long time that dog was my rock. Without my fiancé and Bently I’m not sure what I would have done. When I rescued Stella here in Ottawa it was a bit different of a story. I found myself more angry and frustrated with life. Stella has shown me patience and whatever scenario you find yourself in, find the joy in it. She’s the type of dog that is just happy-go-lucky. It’s hard to look at her and not smile. Rarely is she not bouncing around in a care free way. Lilly our small dog is a snuggler and seems to know when you’re feeling blue and will snuggle right up to you to make you feel better. My fiancé got her when I had an apartment in New Jersey and was away for quite a while and needed a companion. Our dogs are always trying to teach us something we just have to have the intuition and patience to figure out exactly what that is.


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