I'm honored to be among the incredible lineup of bloggers here at petMD. Purely Puppy is going to be completely different than anything you have ever read before. It won’t be your typical puppy blog; each topic will be considered from a behavioral perspective.

Why look at puppy raising and healthcare from a behavioral perspective? Behavior problems are the primary cause of relinquishment of animals to shelters in this country. Can you believe that? It’s sad, but true. But many behavior disorders and the resulting euthanasias can be prevented with a pinch of behavioral medicine. Behavioral medicine affects every part of your puppy’s life. Really!

Have you ever wanted to know how to teach your dog to interact with kids calmly? Do you know the time in your puppy’s life when it is imperative that you enroll her in puppy classes? Do you know which puppy diseases are most likely to affect your dog’s behavior? Do you know which plants and common household items are poisonous to your dog and how to prevent her from eating them? Do you know how to pick the right puppy for you? What about the right breed? We will discuss all that and more.

So who am I anyway? I am a typical overscheduled, stressed, tired, working mom. Despite my better judgment, I am trying to have it all. Because my life is so hectic, I consider issues in the simplest way possible. That is how I will be conveying ideas to you as well. I like a common sense approach to veterinary medicine. On the other hand, I am a real skeptic, so I will try to stick to the scientific studies which support the topic of discussion. I will help you to sort through the fluff and see what is real so that you can raise your puppy right. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of opinions — I am Italian after all! When it is my opinion or experience, and not scientific fact, I will tell you so.

I am also a board certified veterinary behaviorist. Haven’t ever heard of one? You’re in good company, because many people don’t know that we exist. After all, there are only 54 of us. After veterinary school at the University of Florida and some time in primary care practice, I completed a 3-year residency in behavioral medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. I treat dogs, cats and birds with serious behavior problems like aggression, separation anxiety, elimination outside of the litter box, and storm phobia. Please, don’t ask me if dogs lie on a couch and bark at me! I spend my off time writing textbook chapters, a weekly newspaper column, and articles for veterinarians and clients, as well as lecturing nationally and internationally. There’s a lot more about me on my website: www.flvetbehavior.com.

The most pressing puppy issue on my mind right now is, "Which one will I get?" Our family is on a search for that perfect doggie match.

Sadly, for the first time in 13 years, we are without a dog. Although Ted, my cat, would like to keep it that way, the house feels horribly empty. We are torn between adopting an older dog or a puppy. You see, for the past 23 years, I have always chosen our dogs without consideration for anyone else. Whether puppies or older dogs, we have always adopted Rottweilers. Some participated in herding, some in obedience trials, some in tracking, and some helped me work with aggressive dogs at the animal hospital, but they all had a job.

But this time, it is different. My daughter is 4 years old and we need a family dog. I am so busy that I don’t have the time to train a dog to the level that I did previously. If we decide on a puppy, I will have to find a way to raise a well behaved, well exercised, kid friendly, healthy puppy with the minimal extra time that we have each day. I plan to share my journey — including my mistakes — with you as we search for and raise that perfect match for our family.

Let’s get the journey started with a question. Considering that I have a 4-year-old, should I adopt an older dog or a puppy? What is your recommendation?

Dr. Lisa Radosta

Image: Vitaly Titov & Maria Sidelnikova / via Shutterstock