Preparing your home for your new pup

You wouldn’t bring home a new baby without purchasing a crib, diapers, and other essentials right? Of course not! So why do so many people bring home puppies before puppy proofing and preparing their home? This week we are going to talk about how to properly ready your home for the arrival of a new fur baby before they arrive.

The day you bring home your puppy will be one of the most stressful days of their lives – they will be leaving the only home and family they have ever known to be brought into a new world with complete strangers. As such, it is incredibly important to have an area for your puppy already established before their arrival in order to make this transition easier on them. If you allow your puppy to have access to the entire house as soon as they come home, your puppy will actually become overwhelmed by all the space they now have access to. Giving them a space in the home that is all their own will provide them with a sense of security and stability, and will also prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t. The area you choose to be your puppy’s resident living space for their first few weeks at home should ideally be somewhere you and your family spend lots of time so he or she can be included in daily activities and you can have a constant visual on them. I myself blocked off and puppy proofed the entire living room days before Sprout came home; tucking away wires and setting up some ‘puppy essentials’ such as her crate and bed. Here are a few tips for setting up a safe and fun puppy area;

  • Use baby gates or a doggy playpen to block off the area; these are easy to move as you expand your puppy’s space but still provide a clear and consistent barrier
  • Remove any exposed wires from the floor that your puppy could chew on
  • Remove any plants that may be toxic to your puppy (full lists of these plants can be found online)
  • Remove any small objects that your puppy may be able to ingest as these can be choking hazards and may lead to intestinal blockages if consumed (ie. children’s toys, yarn/string)
  • Set up your puppy’s crate in the corner of the room/area – preferably in a quiet, secluded spot where your puppy will be able to rest undisturbed
  • Provide your puppy with a water bowl
  • Have one or two durable chew toys out so your puppy has something to help with their teething (all the rest of their toys should be out of reach and only played with when you say so)
  • You may choose to provide your puppy with a bed in addition to their crate – if so place this bed in the puppy’s area as well
  • If you’re using pee pads with your puppy place one in the puppy’s area, but be sure to keep a close eye on them so they don’t chew and ingest it

There are a few other essential puppy items that you won’t be leaving in the puppy’s space but you should still have in your home before they arrive. Here’s a list of everything you’ll want to have before your puppy comes home;

  • A crate
  • A bed for the crate
  • A travel crate (this one item has paid for itself ten times over with Sprout! Car rides are a breeze and she has a crate to sleep in wherever we go, I highly recommend getting one even if you don’t plan on taking your puppy on long trips)
  • A bed
  • Strong, durable teething toys
  • A food bowl and a water bowl
  • Food (do your research! Find out what your breeder is feeding and research other options to decide what is best for your puppy)
  • A collar and ID tag
  • A leash
  • Poop bags
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Baby gate(s) and/or a puppy playpen
  • A doggy towel to wipe off muddy paws and dry your puppy after bath time

Preparing for the arrival of your new furry family member is easy to do and will make a world of difference for both your puppy and yourself. No one wants a stressed out puppy who destroys shoes and makes messes all over the house – set you and your puppy up for success by giving them a safe space of their own that is ready for them as soon as they arrive.

Stay tuned for next week’s puppy blog,

Claire

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Claire’s Corner: Picking the Perfect Puppy

So you’ve done your research and found a breed that is the perfect match for you and your lifestyle, but what’s next? Now it’s time to find a reputable breeder and select your new fur baby from a litter of bouncy puppies.

Finding a reputable breeder to adopt your puppy from is an incredibly important step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You must put time into researching breeders in order to be sure you are supporting a trustworthy and reliable breeder, as well as to file1-3-2give you peace of mind that the puppy you bring home will have spent the first eight weeks of his or her life in a safe, healthy, and happy environment. Unfortunately, there are many ‘breeders’ out there who are only in the puppy business to make a quick buck and who will not take the health of the puppies or the parents into account when having litters. A good place to start looking for a trustworthy breeder is on the breed’s club website (ie. The French Bulldog Club of Canada) as they often have a page dedicated specifically to respected breeders. Here are a few signs that the breeder you have selected is reputable;

  • First and foremost they will be open to answering any questions you have about their business – any breeder who is hesitant to answer questions about their facility, their dogs, and their breeding program may not have the dog’s best interests at heart
  • They will be open to you visiting their facility and meeting their dogs, as well as visiting your puppy’s litter once they are born
  • They will have a detailed questionnaire that you must fill out before being approved to adopt one of their puppies – they may ask you about your experience with the breed, the size of your yard, how long the puppy will be left alone each day, etc.
  • Their puppies have been vet checked before going home
  • They will require you to spay or neuter your dog before they provide you with CKC registration papers for the puppy
  • For breeds prone to genetic health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, their breeding stock (moms and dads) must have documentation from a veterinarian stating that their hips and elbows are in good health (because it is a genetic condition, if your puppy’s parents have poor hip and elbow health the likelihood your puppy will develop issues is much greater)
  • They will provide a health guarantee for your new puppy that usually covers any genetic issues that could affect the health and wellbeing of your puppy
  • Their website will have testimonials from other clients who have purchased puppies in the past
  • They will not send a puppy home with you before they are eight weeks old – some (like Sprout’s breeder) will even keep the puppies with their mother until ten weeks of age
  • They will make it clear that if you need to rehome your puppy for any reason throughout his or her life you must bring the puppy back to the breeder rather than to a shelter
  • They will not have many litters throughout the year
  • One or both parents are on sight and available for you to meet

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Now comes the really fun part – selecting your puppy from a litter! But as exciting as this part of becoming a puppy parent is, it also requires a lot of self-restraint on your part in order to ensure you select the perfect puppy for you. Far too often I hear that people selected their puppy based on his or her colouring, or because the puppy “chose us” by jumping up on them, or they felt bad for the one puppy hiding from everyone and everything in the corner. Well, the puppy that “chose” its humans actually claimed them and exerted dominance by jumping up, and the cowering puppy will require much more socialization than a typical happy-go-lucky pup to boost its confidence. The ideal puppy energy for new parents is happy-go-lucky as these dogs tend to go with the flow, have moderate energy levels, and are always willing to follow a confident leader. Ideally you will be able to visit your puppy’s litter in person to select your new addition as this will allow you to see the puppies interact with their siblings, their mother, and you first hand. I know it’s hard, but please try not to let the ridiculously cute sight of 5-10 puppies rolling around cloud your judgement when selecting your puppy. Take a breath, clear your mind, and simply observe. Here are some things to look for in a happy-go-lucky puppy;

  • They will not jump up on you when you enter the puppy play area, but they also won’t run to the back of the room in fear. Happy-go-lucky puppies are curious but not pushy or fearful
  • Dominant puppies will often engage in intense puppy play and wrestling as they are fighting for the dominant position in the pack, while happy-go-lucky puppies will play nicely and respectfully with their siblings
  • If you are visiting during feeding time, happy-go-lucky puppies will not force their way to the front of the line but instead will wait and approach the feeding bowl (or their mother, depending on age) calmly and respectfully
  • They may be seen licking their mother and/or their sibling’s faces
  • If there are toys present, happy-go-lucky puppies will willingly give up the toy they have to any other dog or human that approaches

And that’s it! Now you’re ready to pick your puppy and begin the next stage of your lives together. Don’t let all of this information overwhelm you – choosing your new furry family member is supposed to be fun, exciting, and a truly happy experience. So keep a cool head and make an informed decision, but don’t forget to enjoy this stage of your journey into the wonderful world of puppy parenthood!

Hope you’ve been enjoying my blogs! Stay tuned for another one next week 🙂

– Claire

Claire’s Corner: Finding the right breed

Fun fact – there are currently 190 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and even more breeds owned and loved by people around the world that are not yet registered by the AKC. With so many unique breeds to choose from, how can you be sure to pick the right breed for your family and your lifestyle?

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The first thing you need to look at is your current lifestyle and activity level. Are you someone who goes for daily runs and weekend hikes? A high energy working breed, such as an Australian shepherd, may be right for you. Conversely, if you prefer to spend your free time lounging on the couch (I relate heavily to this), then maybe a low-energy non-working breed, such as a shih tzu, is your perfect match. Far too many people get a certain breed because of how they look, or because they’ve wanted that specific breed for “as long as they can remember,” but not enough people step back and look at their own lives before making this incredibly important decision. Remember that selecting the wrong breed may have a negative impact on not only your life, but the life of your puppy as well. If you are a low energy person with a relaxed lifestyle and you bring home a high energy border collie, you will likely be left frustrated at a dog that chews your furniture, while the dog is left anxious and unfulfilled. So please be honest with yourself and choose the breed that is best for you and your family now, and not necessarily the breed that you think you want.

Once you have narrowed down your breed selection based on your lifestyle, the next thing that you need to look at is the history of the breed you’re considering. This is a very important step because the original purpose that the dog was bred for can give insight into possible behavioural characteristics your puppy may display. For instance, schnauzers were bred to hunt and kill rodents, a task which often required them to dig and burrow into the ground after their prey. As such, schnauzers have been known to dig a hole or two in their owner’s backyard, especially when they haven’t been given enough exercise. In Sprout’s case, bulldogs were bred to attack and bring down bulls, a trait which sometimes comes out in her play if she gets over-excited. As such, I never let her ‘attack’ any of her toys by shaking them or destroying them and instead use walks as an outlet for this excess energy in order to keep this natural instinct under control. In short, know the history of your chosen breed so you can prepare yourself for possible unwanted behaviours they may display as well as to give you some ideas on ways you can fulfil their breed-specific needs.

The third factor that I believe you should consider when choosing a breed is so simple that it is often overlooked – size! Large breeds like Great Danes and mastiffs don’t make good apartment pets for obvious reasons, but even if you have the living space to accommodate these gentle giants there are still other things to consider. Do you have a large enough car to transport them when they are full grown? Will your family and friends be comfortable with you bringing such a large dog to their homes when you go to visit? Can you afford to feed this size of dog, which will require significantly more food than a medium or small breed? On the other hand, small breeds are great for apartment living and are incredibly easy to travel with, however you need to consider the time of year you are looking at bringing your small breed puppy home. It is incredibly important that you begin walking your puppy from the first day you bring them home (more on this in a later post), however if you were to bring a 2lb Chihuahua puppy home in the middle of January it would be unsafe for a puppy this small to be walked outdoors. As such, if you are thinking of bringing home a small breed puppy, I highly recommend you wait until the spring or summer months to do so in order to be able to safely walk your new fur baby.

The final piece of the puzzle to finding the perfect breed for you involves looking at the potential health risks associated with your chosen breed as well as any grooming requirements they may have. Large breed dogs are often prone to hip dysplasia, while small breed dogs are at a higher risk for heart conditions. On top of this, every breed has their own breed specific health conditions that you should be aware of before purchasing a puppy of your own. Be sure to research not only the possible health conditions associated with your breed of choice, but also the possible cost of treatment for said conditions. Along with breed health comes breed lifespan – a very important factor that is often forgotten about. A puppy is not just a short term commitment; the minute you bring that puppy home you are signing yourself on to be a committed pack leader for the remainder of that dog’s life. It is a large commitment not to be taken lightly, and you should seriously think about how different your life may look a few years down the road. If your small breed dog has a lifespan of 15 years, will you still be in a position to care for that dog that far into the future? If not, that’s what adoption is for! There are a ton of older dogs looking for loving homes just like yours. Along with breed health comes grooming requirements. Grooming can be expensive if you choose to have a professional do it for you, and time consuming if you choose to do it yourself. Be sure to research the grooming requirements of the breed you are thinking of getting, and make sure you have both the time and money to accommodate these needs. I myself knew I wouldn’t have the time to brush my dog’s fur every day, and so the French bulldog’s short and low maintenance coat was perfect for me.

So now you know what to look for when researching your breed of interest, but where is the best place to find this information? The internet is a wonderful place to find information on breeds of all shapes and sizes, however you need to be careful that the facts are legitimate. I recommended visiting several different sites and even reading a few books to ensure the information you are finding is consistent, as well as to look at specific breed club websites (ie. The French Bulldog Club of Canada) as these are often very informative and legitimate. That being said, the best way to really get a feel for what a specific breed is like is not to read about it online, but to see it in person. Once you have done your preliminary research and believe you have found the breed for you, I encourage you to meet as many of them as possible before making your final decision. Just like one very calm and well socialized husky doesn’t mean every husky is low energy, one over-excited French bulldog does not mean they are all bouncing off the walls and impossible to control.

One final note on selecting the right breed for you – not all dogs will fit their breed description perfectly. This means that getting a ‘low-energy’ breed does not mean you don’t have to walk your dog or put any work into training them. Sprout is the perfect example of this. French bulldogs are often described as lazy couch potatoes, but she is a very active girl who requires a fair amount of exercise before her inner couch potato comes out. We have bulldogs at daycare that are more active than some huskies, so be sure to take any breed descriptions you read with a grain of salt and remember that each puppy will have its own unique energy requirements no matter the breed. Do your research, examine your lifestyle carefully and honestly, and choose the breed that will fulfill your life and allow you to fulfill theirs. After all, that’s what having a dog is all about!

Until next week,

Claire

Introducing Claire’s Corner

Hey all!
Claire here! I’ve worked at The Dog Haus for a little over a year now, but if you don’t know me yet you will soon! This is my first entry in a series of blogs about raising a puppy right, all from my own first-hand experience raising my newest angel, Sprout. I’ll discuss our successes, our failures, and give you some tips and tricks to make raising your new furry bundle of joy the happy and exciting experience it is meant to be! But first, a little background on myself and my journey here.

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Last month I finished my four year animal biology program at The University of Guelph and will be graduating with distinction in just a few weeks. My original intention had been to go to vet school here in Guelph, however my plans changed rather quickly after starting at The Dog Haus. Working with The Dog Haus pack brought forth the realization that I was not meant to fulfill my lifelong passion for helping dogs by healing them physically through veterinary medicine, but rather by using Dog Psychology to
bring them back to their roots and simply let them be dogs again. And so two weeks after finishing my final exams and bringing Sprout home, she and I headed for California to learn from Cesar Milan himself in his Fundamentals I training program. This course was the experience of a lifetime – I learned so much not just from Cesar but from the other wonderful trainers at his facility as well and I am so excited so share some of that knowledge with all of you!

But enough about me, the real star of the show (and the main reason behind these blog posts) is Sprout! She is a four month old French bulldog who is as stubborn as they come but that I love more than life itself. She’s a sweet and spicy, happy go lucky potato who is always up for meeting new friends and doesn’t go anywhere without her stuffed pizza toy. She came to me from a breeder in Hamilton but I had been planning her arrival for months before she was even born, and while it felt like an eternity waiting to bring her home I couldn’t imagine life without her now! I will talk more about how I selected
this breed and Sprout specifically from her litter in coming posts, but for now please enjoy these photos of my wrinkly girl!

I can’t wait to share our journey through puppyhood with you all, and to hopefully give you some advice along the way that will help you raise a balanced, happy puppy!

Spring has sprung

3 Tips to keep your dog safe this Spring

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Ah Spring! The air seems a little fresher and the grass a little greener. There’s hope that Winter is finally gone. Even our dogs are aware of the warmer climate.

But did you know, Spring is a very dangerous time for dogs? With squirrels, rabbits and birds coming out of hibernation, there are lots of distractions around that peak our pups interest. Now that the snow is gone and we can see the ground, our dogs are eager to take in all it’s scents. There’s so much for them to discover. And that is why this time of year many dogs run into trouble, literally.

Dogs who have been cooped up all winter are high on life when they get to go outside and explore finally. There is a tendency for even well trained dogs to go after a scent or chase a squirrel off leash during the next few months. Some dogs may be so desperate to go for a romp or a chase they may even escape their fenced in yards. Dogs hot on a trail will not think twice about crossing a busy street and can easily get hit by on coming traffic.

Here’s how to avoid something so tragic from happening to your pet:

  1. Keep Fido on leash! I make sure to advise all my clients to strictly keep their dogs on leash when this change in weather occurs. Even simple trips from the house to the car off leash is enough time for your dog to dart away from you and potentially get hurt.
  2. Always make sure of your surroundings and that you are putting your pets safety first. Don’t do off leash around residential or urban areas. Stay clear of busy streets.
  3. Train your dog to come when called! It is also best to teach your dog proper recall with lots of training so that they understand and respect the command to come when called.

Focus on progress. Not perfection.

A year and a half ago I adopted a dog from Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand. He was flown overseas and arrived on December 6th 2016, a sweet but frightened boy of only 1 year old. We expected to do a lot of work in socializing him and helping him adapt to being a pet, as we were certain that he had never lived in a home before. We had been well warned by the rescue organization that these street dogs have a lot to overcome and can be easily overwhelmed. We welcomed the challenge.

Everything was brand new for Ty. We went exceptionally slow with him, taking our time exposing him to new places and faces. Over several months, we overcame potty training, destructive behaviour, food aggression, stranger danger, and car anxiety with lots of time and patience. It was amazing to see him start to trust us and relax into being a happy, loving companion dog.

After almost a full year of committed work, I began to see Ty’s socialization plateau and then even worse, regress. I was hopeful after so much work things like his reactivity towards new dogs would disappear and that we would be allowed to have people in the house again without issue. I became frustrated and felt defeated after he nipped a family member. I felt after all this time and effort invested things should be different. Why wasn’t he just like my other dog? Why were we going nowhere? What’s wrong with him? I became ashamed of my “middle child” and shied away from taking him places and having friends and family over. This was not the dog I had hoped for. All I could focus on were our setbacks, failures and disappointment after disappointment.

Then came the wake up call I so desperately needed. A break. A chance to reframe my mentality and regain focus. I took a trip to California to attend a workshop with many of the colleges I’d met through Training Cesar’s Way. The opportunity to be a student again and learn from others more experienced than myself. There I was surrounded by trainers who also opened up about their “problem” dogs. The guilt, shame, discouragement was all the same. We all felt compelled to have “perfect” dogs, when in reality no such thing exits. It was then I realized that I held myself and my dog up to too high a standard, which was in effect destroying our relationship. This acknowledgement did not come easy. It’s a heavy weight to bear realizing you’ve sabotaged your dog’s success by being too hard on him. But the beautiful thing is, we can always start again.

What’s crazy is the immediate change I noticed in my dog once I returned. Now that I was aware of the limitations I was placing on him, I was able to reconnect with him in a forgiving way that allowed us both to simply be. Even more stunning, the people around me noticed the change in him right away. Staff, friends and family all asked what changed. The answer is simple yet complicated…..ME. Ironically enough, I preach Dog Psychology and practicing patience to clients all the time, yet I still need to take my own advice….

“What you focus on grows.”

I was so caught up in what we hadn’t achieved and all the negatives that I was actually creating more of it in my life. I was perpetuating failure after failure because I was summoning it. Sometime you need to relax and go with the flow and have faith that it will all work out.

Needless to say I have learned a lot through this experience. Ty is my most sensitive dog and a true gift to me for that exact reason. He will always be able to keep me in check and remind me to attract what I want and not the opposite. I will know when I am  feeling stressed or frustrated, setting unrealistic expectations, holding onto the past, projecting negative thoughts, or am overall not in alignment, because it will mirror in him. He has taught me to relax and trust the process. Training doesn’t happen overnight, stay with it, but also be fair to yourself and your dog. Acknowledge the massive challenges you have overcome along the way, even if you still have far to go. Sometimes you need to realize you’re doing your best and to pat yourself on the back now and again.

In summary, pack leadership isn’t easy. You will be challenged along the way. Don’t give up! These challenges are there to help you grow in areas you may not have known you needed to. But you have to focus on what you want and how much you have achieved along the way. Anytime you get discouraged I hope you revisit this post and gain perspective.

Be present.   Practice patience.   Be kind.   Stay calm.   Be humble.   Give it time. 

And even when you have set backs you need to learn to…

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Choosing the right breed

“Why did you choose this particular breed?” – This is a question I ask all my training clients to gauge what their expectations are for the family dog they’ve selected.

“I thought it was cute.”

“I’ve always wanted a Shepherd.”

“My 5 year old daughter chose her.”

“We did lots of research and thought it would be the best fit for our family.” 

My most successful clients are the ones who answer saying they took time to make the important decision of which dog made sense in their home. They did not base the choice on appearance, emotional attachment or what their kid wanted. When I was a child I wanted a Beagle or a German Shepherd. Looking back, neither of these breeds would have thrived in my home environment as we were inexperienced dog owners at the time with no idea of just how much work those breeds would be.

Having a dog is a major life adjustment that some people don’t realize requires time, energy and training. All dogs, no matter what the breed, need training in order to be happy, balanced companions. Here’s what I think all dog owners need to know before seriously considering which breed is right for them.

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Working dogs

These are your Shepherds, Collies, Cattle dogs, Huskies, Hounds, and Retrievers – just to name a few. These are dogs that are bred to do something specific. Whether it’s herding, hunting, pulling, or protecting, these dogs need something to DO! I consider working dogs like A-type personalities, whereby if they are not busy and earning their keep they will find a way to entertain themselves either by “redecorating” your home chewing through walls or becoming the neighbourhood bully.

This category of dog is typically selected as a pet for their extremely good looks or because they were seen in a popular film and portrayed as the ideal pet. In the latter case, what most people fail to realize, is that dog on screen is a trained actor on film who is in fact working. A dog (or in some cases more than one, like in the Air Bud franchise) that has been trained to do everything asked in that movie. That is a dog in work mode.

What’s also important to note is that sporting and hunting breeds will have prey drive and herding dogs will want to chase other dogs (or sometimes cars) to get their fix, so it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to curb and deter these behaviours. Socialization classes will be far more beneficial than dog park visits for these dogs. If you do have one of these breeds, it is crucial to socialize, train and fulfill your dogs needs. Research their skill sets and use that as a way to help drain their pent up energy and then you can relax and enjoy your working breed dog.

Homes that are ideal for working breeds are experienced handlers and active families that have time to invest in lots of training and also enjoy being outdoors exploring and are up for a challenge. These are not dogs for the faint of heart and if you don’t believe me just look at which breeds are at your local dog rescue. More often than not working breeds dominate the shelter scene, not due to their own fault but that of an inexperienced owner who had no idea what they were in for.

Hybrids

These are your mixed breed dogs that have been crossed to either enhance certain aspects (e.g. making certain dogs hypo-allergenic like golden doodles) or deter certain aspects (e.g. fix health issues such elongating a nose to assist breathing like in Puggles). What you need to be aware of here is that a hybrid can come out having both breeds’ characteristics. Take for instance the Labradoodle which can be both friendly and energetic like a Lab, but also highly intelligent needing lots of mental stimulation like a Poodle. In my experience, Labradoodles tend to be one of the most misunderstood hybrid dogs. Many people have no idea about the amount of work these dogs are. They require lots of exercise, socialization and training, not to mention grooming! See also the Puggle. This is a mix of a stubborn breed mixed with one of the most difficult to train, and so it’s no wonder this was a temporary fad that didn’t last long. Don’t get me wrong, these dogs can be fantastic pets but do need owners who understand both breeds used to create their mix and put in the necessary work to raise a chill companion.

Toys & Companion Breeds

Often overlooked, this group of dogs are non-sporting and happy to be a family pet with next to no drive for working. My only caution here is having a small breed with young children. Toys like Chihuahuas have a bad reputation as a biting breed, but with good reason. Due to their size they are often threatened by children’s unpredictable movements. If you do opt for a toy breed make sure children in the home are respectful of the dog and calm when interacting with it. Never is it ok for children to run at them, pick them up or force interactions like hugs or kisses. A better option for a home with young kids is a Shih Tzu, Bichon, or Maltese. With regular walks, these dogs are smart, resilient and playful. Shih Tzu’s are known for having an even temperament and being friendly with strangers. I would recommend companion breeds to inexperienced owners, families or elderly couples that are not very active, or humans with low energy. Don’t get it twisted though, these dogs do also need training and other doggie friends. We have many toy and companion breeds at our daycare who love to mingle with dogs big and small.

 

No matter what breed you opt for, always be sure to do your research, hire an experienced trainer to assist you from the start, work with a trusted breeder or rescue, and prepare for the lifelong commitment that having a dog is. If you have any doubts perhaps starting off with a goldfish or hamster is a better option as they are lower maintenance pets. If you are curious to know what having a dog is like try borrowing a friends for a week.