Bringing a dog into the family is a big decision. Many factors need to be analyzed to ensure that the best dog is chosen for your situation. The number one reason dogs are surrendered to animal shelters is that they don’t match the needs or the lifestyle of their human families. The purpose of this article is to assist you in selecting a dog, and minimize potential problems.Questions to Ask
What are your living arrangements?
How much room do you have for a dog? Do you live in an apartment or a house? Do you have a fenced-in yard? All dogs need some type of exercise, but there are considerable variations among breeds. Small breeds tend to adapt better than large breeds to the smaller space available in an apartment. However, some larger breeds are not as active as others and will adapt well to an apartment setting, just as some small breed dogs require a lot of exercise to keep them happy. Having a fenced-in yard will cut down on the time required to walk your dog for bathroom breaks and exercising. Any breed will work in this type of setting, but the more active breeds will require more exercising. Giving a dog sufficient exercise is paramount to having a good relationship with your dog. Many undesirable behaviors, such as hyperactivity and destructive behaviors, can result from insufficient exercise.
Also, you need to be aware of any regulations in your area regarding dog ownership. Some landlords do not allow dogs in their rental units, and some neighborhoods have guidelines regarding the size and the number, or even the breed, of dog that can be owned in that neighborhood.
How much time do you have?
Do you work 8, 12, or 14 hours a day? Dogs require time, some more than others. If you work long hours everyday, then a dog may not be the best pet choice. A pet with less upkeep like a cat or fish may be a better fit for your lifestyle. Dogs are similar to humans in that they need to go to the bathroom in the morning, around noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and before bed. This is especially true with puppies, which are not physically capable of waiting a long time between bathroom breaks. If you are away from home a lot, you may want to consider an dult dog that is already housebroken instead of a small puppy.
Do you have children or other pets?
Young children may play with the dog roughly without understanding what they are doing, or what the potential consequences may be. Dogs joining a household with small children must be very tolerant of the children’s play. Dogs from the herding group have a natural instinct to herd livestock and may try to do so with your family. This instinct includes nipping at the ankles, so these dogs might not be the best choice. Any dog can bite given sufficient provocation, so no dog should be left unsupervised with young children.
Existing pets in the household must be considered when getting a new dog. The temperament of the new dog needs to be compatible with those of the existing pets to make sure no problems will arise with the new addition. Territorial problems should be expected. They usually clear up within a week or so. During this time, it is best to feed the dogs in separate locations, as food is a common cause of conflict.
What is your level of experience?
Have you owned dogs before? As mentioned previously, dogs require time and energy, and should be chosen with this in mind. Every dog needs obedience training, which can be done by you or by a professional. If you have never owned a dog before, an adult dog with some basic obedience training may be your best choice.
What are your finances?
What are your finances?
There are a lot of expenses associated with dog ownership. The initial cost will vary depending on the breed and type of dog you select. Purebreds tend to cost more than mixed breed dogs, especially if they are purchased from a breeder or a pet store. However, purebreds from breed rescues can be less expensive. Purebreds are sometimes available through an animal shelter, although they will probably not have registration papers. It is best to be able to see and meet your potential dog’s parents. That will give you an idea of its mature size and temperament, and provide valuable information about how the dog has been cared for by the current owner.
There are many other costs associated with dog ownership beyond the initial purchase price. Before you purchase a dog, go to a local pet warehouse. Check the prices of dog food, collars, leashes, toys, food bowls, crates, and any other supplies you think you need for your dog. If you have friends or family members who own dogs, ask them you how much they spend annually. The dog should visit the veterinarian annually for a physical examination and vaccinations. You will need to budget for the cost of potential illness or injury. Pet insurance is an option in some places, and may be something you want to explore.
There are regulatory requirements that include fees you need to pay. In most states, it is required by law to vaccinate your dog for rabies. Your veterinarian can let you know how frequently the vaccine must be administered. You may also be required to license your dog. Your veterinarian can also tell you what the local requirements are and how to get your dog licensed properly.
If you have answered all of the above questions and still think a dog is the right pet for your family, you can find a dog to fit your lifestyle and personality.
Purpose of dog?
The first thing you must determine to select the right dog is what purpose the dog will serve. Do you plan to breed, show, or hunt with the dog? Is the dog needed for service or therapy, or strictly as a companion? Regardless of the purpose, the dog selected should be a healthy representative of the species. If breeding or showing, you need a dog that meets or exceeds the standards for the breed and has all the appropriate documentation of its lineage. Hunting requires a good scent- or sight-hunting dog. Many dogs are good for service or therapy, but they need to have good temperaments, low ability to be distracted, and a willingness to learn.
Long hair vs. short hair?
Long haired breeds require more regular grooming than short haired dogs. Long haired dogs have a lot more hair to shed as well. Extensive grooming can be either time intensive, or expensive, depending on whether you prefer to do the grooming yourself, or if you have the dog groomed professionally.
Size of dog?
Dogs can be generally divided into three size categories based on their weight at maturity. Small breeds are generally up to 20 pounds, medium breeds are from 20-50 pounds, and large dogs are greater than 50 pounds. Smaller dogs generally do not require as much space as larger dogs; however, caution should be taken with small breeds due to their small and fragile bodies. Small dogs can be easily injured by rough play, either with people, or with larger dogs. Large breeds can unintentionally cause harm to small children when playing. Large breeds tend to live anywhere from 8-12 years with 10 being the average. Small breeds can live to be 15 or 16 with an average of 14 years.
Do you want an active or non-active dog? You want a dog’s temperament to match that of your lifestyle. If you have children, look for dogs with a low tendency to bite and a high tolerance for handling. If it is a guard dog, you want it to be obedient but still able to effectively guard the territory. Dogs that are overtly aggressive should be
Do you want a puppy, an adult, or a senior dog? Puppies require a lot of attention and training, which may be difficult to accomplish with a busy schedule. A young adult will not need to be let out as often as a puppy, but it will need a lot of exercise and training. Older dogs may be less active, but costs may increase due the higher need for veterinary care as age increases. A popular myth is that older dogs will not bond to their new owners. This is not true. If you invest the time and effort into developing a good relationship with your dog, bonding will happen, regardless of age.
Either gender is fine to choose, but there are differences. Males are generally larger than females within a breed, and they may have a tendency to be more aggressive and dominant. Intact males also are more likely to mark their territory with urine, and they mount more often. If you have a male dog already, the addition of a female dog will cause less fighting and competing than the addition of another male. Un-spayed females go through estrus (heat) twice a year. All dogs bark as a form of communication. It is a breed characteristic and a trait of each individual dog.
Purebred or Mix Breeds?
If you are looking for a companion dog, either a mixed breed or purebred dog can be an excellent companion. If you are interested in breeding dogs, a purebred is required. American Kennel Club (AKC) shows require a purebred dog, but many other show opportunities are available for mix breeds (i.e., agility). Purebred dogs’ lineage can be traced back easily and they tend to be more expensive than mixed breed dogs. Their genetics are more predictable in regard to size, temperament, and appearance. Some breeds are predisposed to certain genetic diseases. If you are looking at purebred dogs, it is important to know what genetic diseases the breed you are interested in can have, so you can beware of animals with that disease. Mixed breeds tend to have hybrid vigor and characteristics of the breeds from which they originated. They have fewer genetic diseases, but the prediction of mature size and temperament is more difficult. On average, mixed breed dogs are easier to find and less expensive to buy than purebred dogs.
Part 02 will post soon.....