DOGS

16 Tips for making a decision about a dog

1-IS A DOG RIGHT FOR YOU?

Dogs are joyful animals that bring companionship and fun into any household, but we must take care of their needs. These include food, shelter, and veterinary care, but also affection and physical and mental stimulation. Do you have time for at least one daily walk, ideally two? Do you have a secure, enclosed yard in which the dog can run around?

2-ARE YOU RIGHT FOR A DOG?

Before getting a dog, be aware that costs—food, vaccinations and other veterinary expenses, insurance, kennels when you go on vacation—will add up. Consider your lifestyle, too: do you have the time and space to give a dog a stress-free environment for its entire lifetime? Can you cope with a dog and young children? Are you ready to pick up after your dog in public places?

3-LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES

In the US, you must license your dog annually and have proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination; put the numbered tag on the dog’s collar. You must also keep your dog under proper control, on a leash if the situation dictates. There are laws concerning your duty to worry for a dog, and protect it from pain, suffering, injury, and disease.

4-CHOOSING A PUPPY

Everyone loves a puppy! But unless that tiny ball of fluff with a squeaking bark may be a Chihuahua or alternative small breed, it won’t stay that size for long. Seeing your puppy’s parents will indicate how big it will grow, especially with a purebred dog; if it’s a mixed breed, be prepared for anything. Puppies are especially good for very young children, since they can grow up together, forming a lifelong bond.

5-CHOOSING AN ADULT DOG

One advantage of adult dogs over puppies is that they have already developed their personalities, so you know what you are getting. An adult dog is also more likely to have been neutered, saving you the expense for this procedure. Puppies will need a lot of your time and attention initially, whereas most adult dogs are already housebroken, for example On the opposite hand, adult dogs may have bad habits that need to be corrected.

6-WHICH SEX?

There are some points to bear in mind when it comes to choosing a dog based on its gender. Unneutered young males can be problematic when their sex hormones are raging, while females go into heat twice a year, which means extra work for the owner, as well as handling advances from male dogs and, potentially, puppies.

7-CHOOSING A PUREBRED

The advantage of a purebred dog is that you will have a fair idea of its behavioral traits, since these are breed-specific. You will also be able to predict its adult size, how much exercise it will need, food requirements, and so on. Plus, you will receive certification of the dog’s lineage, essential if you want to enter it into dog shows. On the down side, purebred dogs can be expensive to buy, and some breeds have inherent health problems.

8-CHOOSING A MIXED-BREED DOG

Even if money is no object, you don’t have to opt for a purebred pooch. Shelters are full of mixed-breed dogs (random, unknown crosses) looking for good, loving homes. One of the advantages of mixed breeds is that they do not tend to suffer from breed-related disorders. Furthermore, they often have big, fun-loving personalities.

9-COATS TO CONSIDER

Some dogs shed a lot of, and others require extra care— for example, dogs with long, silky coats need daily grooming to prevent matting, while poodles and some terrier breeds need clipping or stripping, as well as grooming. Grooming is a good chance to spend time handling your dog and checking it over for any health issues.

10-HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU NEED?

The amount of space you need will depend both on the size and age of the dog you acquire and on the amount of exercise it receives. A mid-sized energetic dog that gets out a lot may be content simply to lounge around when indoors.

11-CONSIDERING SMALL BREEDS

Even if you have decided that you want a small dog—maybe because you live in an apartment—there is still many breeds available to you. As you would expect, small dogs come in all shapes, colors, and temperaments, so there is plenty to consider when picking the right breed for you. Do not allow small dogs to get away with undesirable behavior (growling, food aggression) because of their size. You still need to be the leader of the pack.

12-CONSIDERING MEDIUM-SIZE BREEDS

A medium-size breed is a great choice, size-wise, for the family home. These breeds make up the great majority of dogs that you will see on leashes in the streets and in recreational areas and hiking spots. Kids who are old enough to run around love playing tag and ball games with their similarly sized canine companions, and a real bond often develops between them as the pair grow up together.

13-CONSIDERING LARGE BREEDS

Big dogs are not necessarily the most energetic, although some certainly require a lot of exercise. What they all need, though, is enough living space, so these breeds are only suitable for those with large houses, ideally with a decent-sized yard, too. Large dogs, in particular, really benefit from obedience training.

14- RESCUE SHELTERS

If you’re not adamant concerning having any explicit breed or form of dog, strive your native rescue shelter. In fact, they are well worth visiting even if you do have fixed ideas: it’s surprising how many purebreds are abandoned. These animals—young, old, and everything in between—are desperately in need of a good home, especially the older ones, which are all too often overlooked in favor of cute puppies.

15-REPUTABLE BREEDERS

If you opt to acquire a dog from a breeder, it is important to go to a good one, and that means putting in many hours of research. Start by asking the owners of breeds you like where they got their dogs from. Go to dog shows, too, and ask around for recommendations; word of mouth is always a good way to find a reputable breeder. The breeder should be able to supply you with all the necessary health and pedigree documentation.

16-QUESTIONS TO ASK

Especially in the case of breeders, there are certain questions that should be addressed. Are the dogs taken bent a rest room space regularly? (If so, housebreaking will usually be simpler.) Are the pups well socialized? Ask if they are being raised indoors, but look around, too, for evidence that they are.

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