A hairy Presidential decision of the 4 legged kind.

A hairy Presidential decision of the 4 legged kind.

Tuesday night we all listened as President-elect Obama presented his victory speech with great confidence. It was clear how ready he is to lead us towards change and how dedicated he is to promises even when it comes to the puppy for his daughters Malia and Sasha. Just like any family considering a pup the President has many things to take into consideration as their puppy will be a fifteen year long (or longer) commitment. Taking your time to find the right fit is important! Here are a few tips that may be of interest for the Obamas as well as anyone else considering a new family member.
The decision to get a puppy immediately invites a flood of warm fuzzy images. Who can resist that intoxicating puppy smell or the eyes that melt even those resistant to puppy love. As a, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), I encourage the Obamas and all families to prioritize temperament and personality traits instead of looks. Cuteness wears off quickly especially for kids once the puppy demonstrates normal teething behavior and destroys a favorite toy or two. The temperament of the pup is the key to a long-term match. Enlisting the help of a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) is a great way to get off on the right foot. A CDBC can guide you through the many options of pet selection and help point out the pros and cons of each based on your families needs and desires. It is terrific that many families want to adopt from a shelter or breed rescue as there are many wonderful dogs in need. Sometimes, however, this may not be the best choice due to the needs of the family. Another option is working closely with a reputable breeder so that you are able to visit the puppy and become familiar with its environment prior to bringing it home.
Puppy socialization is serious business and crucial for stability throughout life. A qualified reputable breeder will be certain to do their best to ensure that their pups are socialized appropriately and achieve developmental milestones with experiences that will set them up for a successful and long happy life. This is extremely important for the White House dog as they are exposed to all types of people and situations. Just this past week Barney snapped at a reporter who reached for him. Dogs that are around people must be socially appropriate and comfortable. It is equally important that the handlers become familiar with the likes and dislikes of their dog and recognize subtle signs of stress and know when to remove the dog from a situation when they might not be successful.
When it comes to breed rescue and shelter dogs I have had wonderful experiences placing adult dogs in homes with children. As a mother of three, CDBC and active rescue foster home provider I know first hand the importance of observations in a foster home. Foster home providers live with and determine the temperament and social capabilities based on observation in the home and surrounding environment. Often what we see is a mature dog with an established personality and temperament. This is a great benefit for many families.
There are many pros to adopting an adult dog but it is ideal to work with a professional experienced with temperament assessment. The Obama family will have their challenges looking for a dog that will not create an allergic reaction for Malia. Allergies vary and it can take time to find the right type of dog to fit this need. Fur and hair varies in all breeds and sometimes it can take time to sort out which will create a reaction and which will not. A great deal will depend on grooming habits and management of the environment as well.
The keys for a match made in heaven are these: identifying, as a family, the characteristics you want and need in a dog for your lifestyle, hiring a professional to assist in dog selection and temperament assessment, and carefully selecting a positive trainer for ongoing success that lasts a lifetime!

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