Before You Choose Your Dog
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The shelters are filled with pets that were chosen for the wrong reasons. Think about your lifestyle BEFORE you look for a dog. This will help you bring home a dog that’s compatible with your needs.
You should consider:
- why you are getting a dog (companionship, exercise, protection)
- how much time your dog will be alone
- whether you need a dog that will get along with children
- the age and strength of everyone in your household
- whether you need a dog that will get along with other pets
- how much time you have to exercise a dog
- how much time you are willing to put into training a dog
- whether you have had a dog before
- whether you want an enthusiastic or a laid-back dog
- whether you are strong-willed or more sensitive
- whether you are home enough to housebreak and train a puppy
- how attached you are to your “things”
- whether you can tolerate shedding
- the size and type of your home and yard
- whether you have a fence, how high, and what kind
- restrictions on the size or type of dog allowed
- whether you will walk a dog or let him out in your yard
- whether a family member is allergic to dogs
- whether there are special considerations (a dog that will travel every weekend, a dog you can take to work, a dog you can take to a nursing home)
- If you can afford a dog (supplies, food, vet bills, licensing, grooming, training, boarding or dog walking)
- Discuss who will walk the dog, feed the dog, exercise the dog. If you are relying on children for these jobs, forget it! They will soon get bored or go off to a friend’s house, camp, or college. The adults in the household have to want and be willing to care for the dog.
- If you are looking at a dog in a shelter, squat sideways to the kennel, without looking directly at the dog, and see if the dog watches you quietly or comes over to greet you. Both are good responses. If you have children, be sure to notice how the dog responds to them when you visit with the dog outside.
- Don’t let your children choose your dog. There are characteristics of different dogs that only an adult can understand. Toy breeds are too delicate for children to hug and carry. Small dogs are more likely to bite if provoked or chased into a corner. Herding dogs may nip at running children. Large dogs can scratch or knock over a small child. Dogs bred to be guardians may not behave when your child has a lot of friends over.
- Keep in mind that puppies are a lot of work, and that, since their bladders aren’t fully developed, you must be home to housebreak a puppy. Some owners are also surprised by how big their puppies grow.
- Adult dogs, regardless of age, can be trained. They are calmer, less likely to chew, and better able to hold their bladder than puppies. Also, you already know something about their size and temperament.
- If you are a couch potato, you don’t want to choose an active dog that needs a lot of exercise to be happy. If you are a first time dog parent, you don’t want to choose a dominant dog that can be difficult to train. If you work all day, consider an adult dog that’s more laid back.
- Buying a dog from a breeder doesn’t guarantee good health or temperament. In fact, mutts sometimes have fewer issues than some of the most popular, overbred breeds
- Never buy a dog from a pet store, the internet or a newspaper ad. These dogs are likely to be from puppy mills, mass breeders who overbreed and mistreat their dogs and puppies. A reputable breeder will breed only a few litters a year, will welcome you to the facility, and will interiew you at length to make sure that the puppies will have a good home. Click here to read more about puppy mill dogs. and that should take them to the main puppy mill page
- The only dogs that are considered hypoallergenic are poodles and bichon frise. They, as well as maltese and some schnauzers that also have hair instead of fur, need to be groomed often. There are a number of other dogs that are light shedders, need less grooming, and do fine with many allergic dog parents.
- If you are getting a second dog, it is usually easiest to bring the opposite sex of your resident dog into the home. Both dogs should be neutered.
- If you are bringing a dog into a cat household, see if a previous owner had a cat. If not, you can sometimes get an idea by quickly moving a furry toy that squeaks in front of the dog.
- If you are looking at puppies, look for one that responds to you without throwing himself at you, and that seems able to calm down after a sudden noise or movement.
- If you have a fence, check whether there are gaps or holes and whether you can push it out from the bottom. There are some dogs that are known escape artists and other that were bred to dig. Dogs that jump well can often climb or jump even a five foot fence if they are motivated to do so.
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