Just because you are an active baby boomer, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like company. Especially if you’ve had kids but now they’re gone. Dog trainer Beverley Courtney, who lives in Worcestershire, England, has company galore … four dogs, cat, hens, and many fish … and they don’t talk back.
“You should get a dog.” Has anyone ever told you that?
Maybe it was said by one of your kids, concerned that you’re going to decay away into a pile of dust without something to look after.
Perhaps your doctor said it after surveying your midriff!
Or it could have been someone who just wanted to keep you out of their hair.
You might have thought, “I’m free for the first time in my life. No timetable, no boss, no family to chase round after — I can get the house as neat as I’ve always wanted, and head off on my travels.”
Not a candidate for a pet of any kind, clearly.
But maybe, just maybe, you thought, “I miss having someone to chat to. It would give me something to focus on other than myself. It would be great for when the grandkids visit, and it would certainly get me out and about every day!”
It could be that’s right, and a companion dog would enhance your life, not to mention make it more active … and longer.
As an independent and adventurous boomer, you might already enjoy some activities where a dog could tag along. Walking, running, sailing, fishing, all could be more fun with a friend.
So how do you begin?
1. Age of pooch:
- Best option is to start with a pup of eight weeks. Get him out and about right away.
- If you go for a rescue dog, keep in mind that they all come with baggage (wouldn’t you?) but may be less of a challenge if they are in their middle years. Either way, give them a month’s honeymoon before you expect them to cope without being overwhelmed.
2. Type or style of pooch:
- Some are bred to work all day and never stop — Working Cocker Spaniels and Jack Russell Terriers spring to mind.
- Some are sprinters with a strong chase instinct, but doze 23 hours a day — think Whippets.
- Some take up a lot of space, some are pocket-sized and can be trodden on, some shed bucketloads of hair, some need frequent trimming.
- The brighter and brainier the dog, the more you need to teach them before they teach you — Border Collies, Poodles.
3. Care and daily life of said pooch:
Contrary to what some popular TV programs would have us believe, your dog has no wish to rule you or anyone else (except, possibly, the cat). She wants a warm bed, regular food, and lots of fun, and will be very happy to fit in with you.
So find yourself a force-free trainer as soon as humanly possible. Dog training has changed beyond recognition in the last few years — no longer is there any nagging or cajoling, shouting or yanking around. Your pup learns fastest through play — just like children!
Whatever reason prompts you to get a dog, you’ll rejoice in the spontaneous delights and discoveries ahead which you could never have imagined!
Beverley Courtney, author of the forthcoming book “Calm Down! Six Steps to a Relaxed, Calm and Brilliant Family Dog,” lives in Worcestershire with her four dogs, cat, hens and many tropical fish. She mainly works with puppies and “growly” dogs, always looking to build the bond between dog and owner. Get your copy of Top Tips for Turning Your Wild Puppy into a Brilliant Family Dog – a step-by-step guide to changing the things you don’t like about your dog to the things you do like.