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Advice to a prospective puppy owners
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The following is a list of advice to prospective puppy owners in any breed, not just Bernese Mountain Dogs. The decision to bring a dog into your life is an adult, sober decision that needs to be made in a rational manner. Puppies, by definition, are cute, but also by definition, a lot of work.

  • Find a veterinarian. Many small animal vets lean in expertise to one species — cat vets are good for cats, fake it for dogs, and vice versa.
  • Read. Several good books to consider. "The Right Dog for You" Daniel Tortora (required reading, before choosing a breed). "Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson. "Don't Shoot the Dog" Karen Pryor. "Other End of the Leash" Pat McConnell. "Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas. "Doctor Dunbar's Good Little Dog Book" by Ian Dunbar.
  • Find a training facility in your area and observe some classes (more than one!). Don't watch the dogs, watch how the trainer interacts with the owners and how the owner interacts with the dogs. Observe more than puppy K classes. Training is for life.
  • Do some deep life contemplation. Ask questions like "Am I prepared to be 100% responsible for this animal for the next 15 years" and "If I met 'my soulmate' and they didn't like dogs, what would I do?" Write down your answers.
  • Go to the dog park in your area or any place you've seen dogs congregate with a mess of plastic grocery bags and police the grounds (i.e., pick up poop). It's good practice, a good service, and well, if you can pick up other dogs poop in whatever condition without retching, you'll be fine picking up all sorts of stuff.
  • Once you've decided on a breed, make a call to that breed's national or regional rescue chairperson, NOT the breeder referral chair. Ask them to tell you the negatives and positives of the breed, and ask for the common causes for them to end up in rescue situations. If you still like the idea of that breed and can handle the negatives, THEN go to dog shows and talk to folks and contact Breeder Referral chairs.
  • Stockpile emergency cash. If you cannot afford emergency veterinary care, you really need to consider can you afford regular veterinary care. Folks who have been in dogs for a long time can usually tell you their most expensive medical condition that the dog suffered. Panda had a $2k+ surgery. His end of life care wasn't inexpensive either. And that's on the luckier side of things.