- Determining whether a Boston Terrier is the right dog for you
- Understanding how your Boston will fit into the family
- Delegating responsibility to family members
- Analyzing the real costs of dog ownership
An exuberant Boston draws smiles from virtually everyone he meets, but choosing to spend the next 15 years or so caring for the living creature is a commitment that you should not take lightly. Do you think you’re ready for a Boston Terrier? More importantly, are you ready to welcome an energetic, intelligent, well-mannered dog into your home?
Judging Your Compatibility
Boston Terriers make wonderful pets, especially for young, active families or empty-nesters looking to add a dog to their home. Bostons do very well with children; mature Bostons have been known to stoically take almost any teasing or roughhousing that a child can dole out! And because the dogs are so gentle and wellmannered, they make ideal companions for seniors who may not physically be able to vigorously exercise their pet.
Considering terrier needs
To thrive in your household, he’ll need some boundaries to keep him safe and content:
– Security: Bostons don’t make very vicious guard dogs. Your Boston will rarely bark, unless he’s trying to communicate with you. He’ll welcome strangers with a playful lick and wag, and would happily go home with just about anyone — as long as treats and attention are involved. For this reason, your Boston must be kept in a fenced or enclosed yard. And when you walk with him, he must always be on a leash.
– Training: A very intelligent dog, your Boston will benefit greatly from puppy kindergarten and basic training classes. He may choose to chase a butterfly or play with his classmates because he is easily distracted, but patience is paramount. If you’re diligent with his training, it will pay off in the long-run. For more info on training, flip to Chapter Training and Behavior.
– Indoor living: Because of your Boston’s short coat and short, flat nose, your dog will spend much of his time inside with you. He won’t tolerate extreme temperatures or weather well. When he is outside during the summer, you’ll need to provide a cool, shady area for your pup; during the winter, you’ll want to bundle him up before braving the elements.
– Regular schedule: Your Boston will also need to be welcomed and loved by your entire family. Each person should dedicate him- or herself to caring and nurturing the puppy or adult dog. Establish chores for each person, agree to use the same training tools, and remember that this dog is part of the family.
Are you ready for a Boston?
You are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of your Boston. Does your household embody these characteristics?
Impatient owners need not apply
If you’re willing to devote energy to raising your Boston, he’ll reward you with lifelong love and companionship. A patient and understanding pet owner will raise a well-mannered pup. It just takes time and dedication.
At-home time: It’s a necessity
Your Boston will want to spend all his time with you and your family. If you travel frequently, work long hours, or are otherwise committed to tasks that require you to be away from home for long periods of time, you should think twice about adding this dog to your home. And if you’re experiencing major life changes, such as changing jobs, expecting a baby, mourning a death, or coping with a serious illness, you may want to hold off on purchasing a puppy.
Establishing Family Dynamics
Knowing who the main caregiver will be: You
The reality is that you — the adult — will ultimately do most of the work in raising and caring for the dog. You’ll be the one taking him to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You’ll be the one who makes sure he has the right amounts of food and water. You’ll be the one who structures his playtime and makes sure that he socializes with other animals and humans.
Understanding your children’s role
Helping your four-legged friends get along with each other
Keep in mind, however, that Bostons retain their terrier roots and may try to chase down a pocket pet, like a guinea pig or rat. Cautiously introduce them to each other in a safe, neutral environment, gradually giving each more freedom to sniff out the other. Even if they do get along, supervise them. You don’t want your Boston making a toy out of your beloved bunny!
Divvying Up Duties
Fitting in regular chores
– Feeding: When your Boston is a puppy, he’ll need to be fed up to four times a day; when he’s an adult, he’ll need two meals a day. You should feed your dog on a regular schedule, such as at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., so he knows exactly what to expect.
Also keep in mind that just as you would wash your own dishes, your Boston’s bowls need to be thoroughly washed with soap and water after every meal. You’ll also want to keep an eye on his eating habits and note any irregular behavior, like a poor appetite or vomiting (see Chapter Eating Well for more on feeding).
– Keeping fresh water available: Often paired with the feeding regimen, this is an ongoing job that requires you to check your Boston’s water bowl and refill it with clean water when necessary. Plan to wash the bowl on a daily basis.
– Bathroom responsibilities: A young Boston will require frequent bathroom visits while you housetrain him (see Chapter Housetraining for Bostons) — at least every two hours, if not more often. As he gets older and learns how to ask to go outside, you’ll need to supervise him while he does his business, eventually letting him go by himself when he’s an adult. Every day, you’ll need to clean up his bathroom area, scooping up his feces and spraying down the area with water, if necessary. When you take him for walks, you’ll want to carry plastic bags to clean up the presents he leaves behind.
– Exercise: Being the energetic dogs that they are, Bostons require daily exercise. You can take yours for an hour-long walk, play fetch for 20 minutes, or enjoy a fun session of flyball (see Chapter Taking Training to the Next Level). The more exercise, the better, because it will allow your Boston — and you — to get a good night’s sleep.
– Grooming: They don’t require rigorous coat care like some breeds, but Bostons do need a daily brushing to keep their shedding under control. Plan to spend 10 minutes or so for the day-to-day grooming regime.
– Training: When your Boston is old enough for training and behavior classes (about 10 to 12 weeks old), you can plan to spend about 20 minutes each day practicing what you’ve learned (see Chapter Training and Behavior). It’s important to reinforce his learning every day because basic training forms the building blocks for more advanced tricks later on.
– Socializing: Once a week, take your Boston to the local dog park or dog-friendly shopping center where people and their pets congregate. Let them greet your dog. It’s important that your puppy experience as many people, smells, and experiences as possible to grow into a healthy, well-adjusted adult (see Chapter Socializing for Life for more info). Adults need ongoing socialization, too, but it’s not as critical as when your Boston is a pup.
– Training classes: Typically held once a week, puppy kindergarten and basic training classes get your Boston off to a great start in proper obedience and behavior. If you’ve adopted an adult Boston, he can learn new tricks, too! Obedience classes will teach you and your dog the basic training skills introduced in puppy kindergarten.
– Agility training or other sporting activity: After your dog passes puppy kindergarten and basic training, enroll him in some agility or flyball classes (see Chapter Taking Training to the Next Level). They will focus his energy into a positive outlet — and you’ll meet other dog people who love their pets as much as you love yours!
– Brushing his teeth: Plan to brush your Boston’s teeth at least once a week, though once a day would be ideal (but maybe not realistic!). Good oral hygiene will keep your dog’s pearly whites clean and tartar-free. (Chapter Looking Good tells you how.)
– Eye check: Because Bostons have such prominent eyes, check them at least once a week for discharge, dryness, or other irregularities (see Chapter Looking Good). Consult your veterinarian right away if you suspect a problem.
√ 7 a.m.: Wake up Buster and take him outside to bathroom area. Clean up after him.
√ 8 a.m.: Wash Buster’s food and water dishes.
√ 9 a.m.: Feed Buster and fill his water bowl.
□ 9:30 a.m.: Take Buster outside again and play fetch for a bit. Clean up after him.
□ 10 a.m.: Naptime.
□ Noon: Right when he wakes up from his nap, take Buster outside to the bathroom area. Clean up after him.
□ 2 p.m.: Play with Buster. Take him outside again. Practice lessons learned in puppy kindergarten. Clean up after him.
□ 2:30 p.m.: Naptime.
□ 4 p.m.: Take Buster outside when he wakes up and clean up after him again.
□ 6 p.m.: Feed Buster his dinner and refill his water dish.
□ 6:30 p.m.: Take Buster outside again. Clean up after him.
□ 7 p.m.: Grooming time! Brush his coat and give him a quick massage.
7:30 p.m.: Take Buster outside one more time. Clean up after him.
8 p.m.: Bedtime for Buster. Put him in his kennel.
□ Monday: Dog birthday party at Heather’s house.
□ Tuesday: Puppy kindergarten, 8–10 a.m.
□ Wednesday: Brush Buster’s teeth after grooming him and check his eyes.
□ Thursday: Go to the dog park for an hour or two.
□ Friday: Invite new dog friends over for a play date.
□ Saturday: Spend the day with Buster.
□ Sunday: Go on a long walk with the family.
√ Give Buster his heartworm medicine.
□ Apply Buster’s flea and tick prevention.
□ Trim Buster’s nails, clean his ears, and give him a bubbly bath.
□ Check Buster’s body for lumps, bumps, or other abnormalities.
□ Call veterinarian and schedule a follow-up appointment.
– Giving heartworm medication and flea-and-tick prevention: During routine exams, your veterinarian will prescribe heartworm and flea-and-tick prevention for your Boston (see Chapter Your Visit to the Veterinarian). To keep him parasite-free, give your Boston the medication once a month.
– Grooming: Bathing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning should be done once a month. Plan to spend a good hour at least giving your Boston a bath, clipping or grinding down his nails, cleaning his ears, and making him handsome. (Flip to Chapter Looking Good for pointers on sprucing up your Boston.)
– Overall health check: While you’re doing your monthly grooming ritual, inspect your dog’s body. Look at his coat and skin, checking for scrapes and lumps. Check his eyes, nose, and mouth for signs of redness or irritation. Inspect his paws, checking his pads for cuts. If you see anything out of the ordinary, consult your veterinarian.
– Cleanup duty: Ask your child to accompany you when you take your Boston to the bathroom. She can grab a plastic bag and clean up the bathroom area after the dog does his business. Make sure she washes her hands when she comes back inside.
– Feeding time: Make it your child’s job to remind you when it’s time to feed your pup. If she’s old enough, ask her to measure and pour the food into the dog’s bowl.
– Refilling the water bowl: Assign your child the chore of making sure the water bowl is always full of fresh, clean water.
– Cleaning out his kennel: You can ask your child to shake out her pet’s blanket, straighten up the kennel, and gather strewn doggy toys.
– Brushing and grooming: Daily grooming tasks give your child a chance to bond with your Boston. Involve her as much as possible with washing and brushing tasks.
– Training and behavior practice: Ask your child to attend puppy kindergarten with you and practice simple commands, like Sit and Stay, with your dog. You can also enlist your child’s help when selecting reference and training materials.
The Real Costs
One-time and monthly expenses
– One-time, major expenses: The APPMA’s 2005–2006 survey reports that pet owners spent an average of $655 purchasing a small purebred dog, like your Boston Terrier. The AKC’s numbers mirror the APPMA’s numbers at $646. So you can expect to pay about $650 for your Boston, depending on where you live.
Adopting a Boston from a shelter or rescue can cut this cost significantly, depending on the organization. Several rescues, such as Wonderdog Rescue in San Francisco, California, offer purebred adult dogs for $300 or less, and that price includes spay or neuter surgery and vaccinations.
You’ll also need to have your dog spayed or neutered, a cost that runs $160 according to the AKC. Plan to spend another $350 on training fees and supplies, the organization reports, and an additional $350 on nonconsumable pet products, like bowls, leashes, and a crate.
– Ongoing (and in some cases, fun) expenses: You’ll also need to budget for routine expenses and consumable items, like food, treats, leashes, and medication. The AKC reports that survey participants spend an average of $2,489 per year in food, veterinary visits, travel, grooming, boarding, toys and treats, ongoing training, and dog events. Costs will, of course, vary depending on where you live.
If you decide to forgo pet health insurance, squirrel some money away — at least several hundred dollars — for medical emergencies, just in case.
by Wendy Bedwell-Wilson