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Committing to a Lifetime of Care

In This Chapter

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?

High-spirited dogs, like a Boston, require even more tolerance and understanding. Boston Terriers are intelligent pets, and they develop many interests and need challenging activities to keep their busy minds occupied. When you’re choosing a type of dog to bring into your home, you should consider not only the dog’s needs, but your needs, too. Your family’s expectations and lifestyle should match what needs the dog may have.
You can discover more about the responsibilities involved in raising a Boston Terrier in the pages that follow. This chapter is really all about what you and your family can expect when you commit to care for your Boston.

Judging Your Compatibility

Truly an American Gentleman, your Boston Terrier will complement your household. Gentle and kind, entertaining and comical, he will make you laugh with his antics and personality.


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.

If you and your family can commit to providing the dog what he needs to thrive, like devoted training time, a regular schedule, patience and understanding, near constant companionship, and lots of love and attention, then you may have found a match made in Boston! Here, you can read more about these traits that your Boston needs to succeed.

Considering terrier needs

Though your Boston is a terrier, he’s not as rambunctious as some breeds. He is lively and curious, but he’s far from his vermin-chaser roots. (See Chapter Tracking the Boston Terrier for more details about the Boston personality.)


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?
  • Patient and tolerant of mistakes
  • Willing to devote much of your time to training and socializing your Boston
  • Interest by the entire family in raising and nurturing your dog
  • Concern for the dog’s welfare
  • Active, with time to exercise the dog at least twice a day
  • Open to modifying your entire routine and home to accommodate the Boston If so, get ready to welcome a Boston into your family!

Impatient owners need not apply

In general, dog owners need to be patient and dedicated, and for owners of a Boston Terrier, this statement couldn’t be more true. Because he has terrier blood coursing through his veins, he will be rambunctious and willful at times, pushing boundaries and testing your tolerance. He is also very intelligent, which makes training easy, but when that wit combines with a willful attitude, you may need to out-think your dog.
You can expect to teach your dog everything from housetraining to behaving properly around other dogs. He’ll look to you for guidance in any given circumstance, so you’ll need to be prepared to lead your pup in a loving, tolerant way.
Accidents and trials will happen, and you will need to endure them as any parent would. A male may mark his territory. Your dog may use your favorite shoes as chew toys. Dog proofing your home may detract from its décor. At the same time, your dog will absolutely adore you, and your health will benefit from sharing your home with a pet. After you welcome a dog into your home, your life will never be the same again!


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

If you have the time to dedicate to raising a dog, a Boston makes a wonderful companion in virtually any household.
Boston Terriers love to spend time with their human caretakers. Through decades of selecting for specific traits, breeders have fostered characteristics that make these dogs companion animals. Because they’re extroverts, Bostons thrive on contact with their family and suffer if left alone for long periods of time.
An ideal home for a Boston is one that buzzes with activity all day long. Bostons aren’t happy being alone and often benefit from having a Boston brother or sister. When properly socialized and trained, they get along splendidly with children and other pets, both canine and non-canine.


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

When you choose to adopt a Boston Terrier, he will become an integral part of your family. He is still a dog, but many of the decisions you make about travel, hobbies, purchases, décor, and lifestyle will require you to consider your family pet.
Because of this new ball of fur, the dynamics of your family will change when your Boston comes home. Each individual — from the adults to the children — will have new responsibilities. As a family, you will need to communicate more with each other, making sure that each person is on the same page when it comes to training and discipline. It will be a learning experience for all of you.
If you have other pets, their roles will shift as well, especially as the animals establish their dominance order. Dogs are pack animals, so as soon as your Boston comes home, he’ll naturally discern his place in your household ranking system. Just as your family will adjust to the duties and responsibilities of owning a new pet, your Boston will need to adjust to his new surroundings, too.

Knowing who the main caregiver will be: You

If children are part of your family, it’s likely that your son or daughter is prompting the purchase of your puppy.
New and novel in her young world, your child will insist that she will care for the dog, feed him, clean up after him, and bathe him. And she just might — for a time. She’ll be happy to take your Boston on walks and play fetch, but when it comes to getting up at 6 a.m. and taking him to the bathroom, or cleaning up an accident in the middle of the living room floor, she’ll likely balk.


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

Most children love dogs. They’ll play together from sunup to sundown, becoming constant companions and quick best friends.
Children, and even teenagers, however, can’t be expected to be the sole caregivers of a pet. Soccer games, schoolwork, and social engagements often interfere with the day-to-day responsibilities associated with raising and caring for a dog.
You can, however, delegate specific tasks to your children. If you have more than one child, consider rotating chores to broaden their experiences. Later in the chapter, you’ll find a list of duties suitable for children of any age.

Helping your four-legged friends get along with each other

Most Boston Terriers are courteous and laid back enough to get along with other pets, both canine and non-canine varieties. When raised from puppyhood in a home filled with other animals, Bostons will learn to fit in without a hitch. With time and training, adult Bostons, too, can be trained to bunk with other pets.


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!

If you care for an easily spooked or alpha cat, you can minimize the hissing and flying fur by following these steps:
1. Leave your Boston in his crate during the first few introductions.
Carefully hold the cat and sit next to the kennel containing your dog. Let them smell each other through the kennel walls or bars, and watch their reactions. If your cat hisses and bears her claws, or if your puppy whimpers, back away slowly and try again the next day, gradually increasing the time they spend together. Give both animals lots of praise when they can tolerate each other’s company.
2. After your cat shows signs of being comfortable with your Boston, let your cat walk freely around the kennel until she grows accustomed to the new smell.
As soon as she sniffs his kennel and approves of his presence, she’ll ignore the kennel and likely perch somewhere, watching your new little dog and keeping a keen eye on every move he makes.
3. In time, you’ll be able to leave your dog’s kennel door open, and they’ll freely interact.
When you can give them this freedom depends on your cat’s tolerance of the dog and your Boston’s exuberance level. An uptight cat may become annoyed by a playful pup, whereas a docile dog won’t cause a ruckus at all. Watch your animals closely until you’re absolutely confident that they’ll get along. Ideally, they’ll be best friends before long, sharing the same cushy bed.
Chapter Socializing for Life contains more advice on making sure your Boston behaves like a gentleman around other animals (and people).

Divvying Up Duties

Who knew that welcoming a dog into your household could open up so many job opportunities! Each family member will have some sort of daily doggy duty to perform. Because humans have welcomed dogs into the domestic setting, your Boston can’t care for himself as he would in the wild, so you’ll need to provide fresh food and water for him, exercise him, take him to the bathroom, and teach him basic manners, among myriad other tasks.
Besides the daily chores, you’ll also need to plan for weekly, monthly, and yearly duties, such as attending basic training courses, giving him a bath, feeding him heartworm medication, and taking him to the veterinarian for his annual checkup.

Fitting in regular chores

To help with your planning efforts, you can follow the rough guidelines shown in Figure 3-1 for the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly chores required to keep your pup happy and healthy.
Of course, the schedule for each household will differ, but these are intended to be a starting point for your life with your Boston.

Daily duties

These tasks will need to be performed every day, sometimes more than once a day.

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. 

Weekly chores

Though not as extensive as the care your Boston requires daily, these weekly tasks are necessary and vary in each household.

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. 

This week 

□ 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. 

This month 

√ 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.

 Figure 3-1: Caring for your Boston requires daily, weekly, and monthly chores.

Monthly musts

Mostly related to health, these chores are best done around the same time each month, such as within the first week.

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.

Annual checkups

You can plan to take your Boston to the veterinarian once a year for his annual checkup. During that visit, your veterinarian will weigh him, check his heart and lungs, look in his eyes and ears, and perform an overall assessment of your dog’s health. The annual checkup is the ideal time to bring up any questions about your dog’s health or behavior. (Chapter Your Visit to the Veterinarian explains the details of what to expect when you and your Boston visit the vet.)

Child-appropriate tasks

To ease the day-to-day chores that you need to do for your Boston, enlist your children’s help. Under your supervision, of course, you can involve them by assigning tasks such as these:

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

Dog ownership isn’t cheap. Though it’s common knowledge that you’ll have to pay for dog food, supplies, veterinary bills, and cleaning supplies, have you ever calculated the monthly costs?
In 2004, the American Kennel Club (AKC) surveyed more than 1,000 visitors to its Web site to determine what pet owners pay to care for their pooches. In addition, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. (APPMA), a nonprofit trade organization that serves the pet products industry, conducts a pet owners’ survey every two years that tracks pet-product purchasing behavior of its respondents.
Between these two organizations’ reports, you can see in this section that owning a dog has its costs (although most owners would agree that it’s worth it!).

One-time and monthly expenses

When you purchase a car, you expect to pay the one-time costs of the car itself, the taxes, and the warranty. You also expect to pay the ongoing costs of gas, insurance, and maintenance. In the same way, you can expect to pay one-time and ongoing expenses when you bring your Boston home.

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.

Unexpected bills

One expense you can’t plan for is an emergency. The AKC reports that an emergency veterinary visit will cost $631; the APPMA says that number is $594. If your Boston requires emergency veterinary care, you can expect to pay a pretty penny to keep your dog healthy.
To cushion the cost of emergency veterinary care, you can purchase health insurance for your Boston. It may seem like an extravagant expense — about $300 to $400 per year — but it can save you thousands of dollars if your Boston ever requires critical care.
You can find pet health insurance companies through a variety of sources, including the AKC, your breeder, your veterinarian, or a quick online search. You can also ask members of your local Boston Terrier Club for referrals.
Like human health insurance, pet health insurance requires you to pay a premium every month. In exchange, the policy covers annual exams, prescription flea prevention, heartworm protection, vaccinations, hospitalization, accidents, radiology, surgeries, and even cancer treatments. After you meet your deductible, the insurance company pays a percentage of the medical costs.
Pet health insurance differs from human health insurance in that, in most cases, you pay for the veterinary bill up front (no co-pay), submit a claim form, and get reimbursed for a percentage (or all) of the medical costs. This feature allows you to take your pet to virtually any licensed veterinarian without worrying about whether the clinic will accept your insurance.
Different policies offer different benefits, so look at all your options before choosing one for your Boston. It’ll be worth it!


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

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