In rescue we are faced with many anxious new dog owners. However, we are also aware of the issues in our society where pets are often considered disposable property. Before you bring any new pet into your life, you need to stop and think. Be honest with yourself when addressing these issues. You will save yourself heartache and possibly save an Dog’s life.
Owning any breed of dog is a commitment for the life of that dog. For a Siberian Husky, this commitment can be up to 15 years! You need to think, "What am I going to be doing in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 15 years and how is my now new dog going to fit into my life at that time?" Are you going to move? How about a new job with longer hours? Any new babies in the future? How will you accomodate the dog into your plans? Sure, you cannot plan for everything and unexpected changes do occur, however, if you know they will, maybe now is not the time to adopt a dog. Or maybe you would consider an older dog that is looking for a retirement home. These older dogs offer lots of love with fewer problems than the younger dogs and the time commitment is reduced with the age.
In addition to the time commitment, there is the financial commitment. Food, vet bills, supplies, kenneling during travel, emergencies, additional housing deposits if renting, expenses due to damage caused by the dog, upgrades to fencing to contain the dog, and obedience classes. You should consider the cost of dog ownership. The estimated annual cost of owning a Siberian is $600-700 for food and vet bills. Some of the initial costs, including spay/neuter and first vaccines are done with the adoption of a rescue dog, however the ongoing annual costs are the responsiblity of the new family.
Is you family growing bigger or smaller? Changes in the family mean changes for the dog. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Are you going to have a baby arriving soon? If you are and do not have a dog now, wait until the baby has arrived. The new arrival will require much of your time and if you take the time from the dog it may become destructive or problematic. Also, this will allow for you to determine if the baby will be allergic to the dog before you are faced with trying to place a dog. If you are truly willing and able to care for a dog with a new baby, then by all means, adopt a dog. Just make sure you provide the proper foundation for training if that dog is a pup or that you seek a dog that is known to be good with babies and toddlers.
- Are children leaving your home? Many people obtain dogs for their kids who later grow up and leave for college where they cannot bring the dog. Parents who obtain a dog for the kids should be prepared to care for the dogs when the children move.
- Children and Pets: While sometimes they are a wonderful combination, there can be problems if proper training and socialization is not given. The most common problems arise with improper puppy raising. Consider adopting a pet that is older and known to get along with children. Some of the dogs in rescue are great with children, others are not.
Puppy or Dog?
Puppies require time, lots and lots of time. You need time to housetrain them, time to train them basic manners, time to train them not to bite, time to train them basic commands, and time to keep an eye on them to keep them out of trouble. Just as you would not leave crawling infants unattended, you must also do so for puppies. If you are not prepared for this level of commitment, consider an older trained dog with many years of love to give.
Puppies do not stay puppies for long. In a few months they are the teenage version of dogs causing all sorts of chaos in your life. Most young dogs in the rescue are at this age of terror, given up by families who could not stick it out or provide the proper training to end up with a wonderful pet. These adolescent problems can be solved and often starting in a new home with new rules and training is all the dog will need. Still, if you do not want to dedicate the time to the feisty youngster, consider a dog that is past the teenage years (> 2 years old).
While some people think that raising a puppy creates a stronger bond with the dog, this is not always the case with Siberian Huskies. Some dogs just never ’bond’ no matter what you do. Providing consistent leadership combined with good positive training methods and daily exercise will create the best relationship between you and the dog. Any foster parent of a Siberian Husky will tell you that the relationship with an older dog is often better or equal to that of a puppy.