A Major Issue

It seems that soon there will be a new dog in the White House that will also have to learn to deal with the press and other stressors of large scale public service that go along with being the First Dog of America.

If the Obamas do indeed get a puppy, there will be plenty of time for early socialization which can help a dog grow to be confident and social in most situations and with a wide array of people. I do hope they are able to find the time to fit a reputable puppy class into their busy schedules. Because early socialization and training is a key component to a harmonious relationship with a dog.

If ever there is a pup that needs both a puppy class and the socialization chart provided at the back of Dr. Ian Dunbar’s After You Get Your Puppy, it is the pup that will be the First Family Family Dog!

By speaking publicly about his family’s requirements for their new companion, the President-Elect is providing an excellent opportunity for discussion about the challenges of the selection of a new dog.

As the President of Open Paw, a non-profit dedicated to providing people and pets the necessary tools to build a lasting and successful relationship with one another and with the community, I am thrilled to hear the Obamas are carefully considering their lifestyle and expectations in advance, rather just running out and getting a dog on impulse.

Too many people are seduced by a pretty face or fuzzy coat without first thinking about what their dream picture of living with a dog is and then weighing that with the reality of their everyday lives. This tendency to impulsively choose a dog based on cuteness alone, or other equally shallow selection criteria, often ends badly – with many dogs ending in shelters before their first birthday.

It is wonderful to hear that the First Family To Be is considering getting a dog from a shelter, but so many dogs are there for a reason (lack of training) and that is precisely why thinking about what you want in a dog BEFORE getting one is soooo very important.

Of course dogs can learn basic household manners at any age, and any shelter dog can be trained, but temperament is less malleable, and therefore it is essential to choose a dog with a personality well suited to your needs. Don’t worry so much about rambunctious-ness or house training – that stuff is easy for a dog to learn with a little help! Be sure to do your research and assess your needs and you’ll find the right dog for you.

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