At home and think it's the right time for a puppy? Think again.
DON'T GET THE PUPPY By Renee Machen March 24, 2020
This may be the only time you ever hear me say this, but for all of you out there who think this is the ideal time to run out and get a puppy, please, please DON'T.
I am so grateful the puppies I just sent home were spoken for before the world changed. And as any of those new owners will tell you, it is a hard time to raise a puppy well. There are no classes, no way to properly socialize. But they had a good start with their breeder and the new families are doing the best they can. They'll be okay.
For most others... Let's think about this.
For years you've wanted a dog, but your family has been too busy. Work, kids, sports, travel...who has the time? But now, NOW you are all home and need a distraction. Or maybe the kids need something to do. What a perfect time to raise a puppy. So you start scouring the internet only to find that the ethical breeders don't have puppies available...most have at least a year long wait list. Who knew? But you don't need a puppy in a year, you need one RIGHT NOW, and preferably within short driving distance so you can go pick it up.
So you go support your local puppy mill. They see the demand for puppies is high right now, so they breed even more dogs than usual. You want a puppy shipped? You got it.
Congratulations! You just paid a premium for a puppy bred with zero regard to the health of its parents, the health of the puppy, longevity, temperament, or quality of life for it, or your family. No returns. Best of luck.
Then one of two things happens.
Best case scenario, it is a sweet, trainable puppy and you do the best you can. It might turn into a loved member of the family that, once life resumes, goes to the kids soccer games and patiently waits at home all alone while you all are gone all day. It's fine being left in a boarding kennel half its life while you're on vacations without it. Despite lack of classes or socialization, you lucked out and it is a healthy, well adjusted addition to your family just as you'd hoped.
But that is an alarmingly slim chance. The more likely scenario is this...
You get the puppy home. It's an adorable bundle of fluff. The breeder has done very little to socialize it. Maybe it has been in a kennel its entire life. Maybe it has an underlying health condition, but you don't know because you can't take it to the vet so you hope for the best. Slowly, it adjusts to life in your home. Vacuums are terrifying. The neighbor's mailbox is surely plotting murder. Slippery floors are like lava.
It's cute. For a little while.
You don't do classes and don't take it anywhere because...quarantine. Hopefully it doesn't eat a sock or get sick because there are no vet clinics available - the staff that had been caring for the animals is all sick at home or worse now because they didn't have PPE (seriously, this is a major issue).
A couple of months pass.
The fear of everyday things has now turned into something else. Maybe the puppy jumps and barks at the window, ripping up your couch in the process. Maybe you ran out to the grocery store and because that was the first time he'd ever been alone, he destroyed half your house or hurt himself trying to break out of a crate.
He's grown bigger and is now guarding things, hides under the bed and pees everywhere when there's a thunderstorm, barks incessantly while you're trying to have a conference call, pulls on the leash so badly you can't walk him. Shelters are closed. And you can't even remember that breeder's name. If there were any training classes, you might consider one of those, but there's not.
So you put him in the backyard and hope for the best. I mean really, it's for your own sanity and his safety.
Or maybe it doesn't get quite that bad, but when life does resume in...3 months? 6 months? a year?...this puppy has never been out of the house, never been away from his people. The kids return to school. Parents return to work. The puppy who had been an angel in the house before starts destroying things, howling all day, chewing his paws as severe separation anxiety sets in. You try to bring him with you to places to ease that pain a little, but he's completely uncontrollable around other people, dogs, and in new situations.
Well, you don't have time to train him now, and the kids have lost interest because REAL HUMAN FRIENDS!!! Besides, it's too late to try to train him anyway. So he's left at home. Maybe in a kennel or outside so he doesn't destroy your house. For...ever?
So before you run out and impulse buy a puppy, please take a minute to consider...if you didn't have time for a puppy before, will you have time for a dog who is deeply bonded to you, trained or not, after life resumes? Will you dedicate time now to learning how to properly train and socialize (the best you can) that puppy so he becomes a stable dog and might stand a chance at continuing to be a loved family member?
And finally, maybe consider adopting an older dog in need instead of a puppy. People are dying. Dogs are going to be displaced. Don't run out and support unethical breeders and invite more tragedy into your homes with an unhealthy puppy. Yes, puppies bring happiness and distraction for a little while, but they are living beings and deserve a real lifelong commitment. How willing are you to stand by that? If you aren't sure, consider fostering for your local rescue or shelter. They need you right now.
The bottom line is, it could be a good time for a puppy, but in most cases it very much is not. And unfortunately, ethical breeders can't produce puppies on demand and often have wait lists far in advance of breeding. If you're entertaining the idea of a puppy now, maybe use the time to think through your life and see how you might be able to prioritize that once things return to normal. Is it possible? If so, research breeds and breeders and start conversations. If you find a good match, get on a wait list. Don't rush into something both you and this living being will regret for the next decade or more.