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When it’s time to get a dog

Congratulations on your decision to get a new dog! You are embarking on a wonderful and rewarding relationship. Adopting a new dog comes with a lot of changes for both you and the dog. Below is some information to help make your choices easier and clear.

As you would surely agree, a dog is a living creature that no responsible person would “try on” to see. A dog is not a disposable toy, a learning experience, or a decoration. Every dog is best thought of as a full member of the family, someone that will ideally spend a lifetime with you. A dog’s average life span is from ten to fifteen years, so really think through your decision to get a dog, and never buy on impulse. Be prepared to make a commitment to the care and well being of your dog from puppy to old age. Consider the following points.

Are all members of the family in favor of getting a dog? A dog cannot belong to one member of your family — it’s simply not designed that way, but functions optimally as a lifelong member of your pack. For a dog to become a lifelong part of your family, the decision to buy must be fully understood and shared by all members. A “split decision” may lead to disagreements and the dog being neglected, returned, or abandoned.

Are there young children in the family? One of the favorite reasons people purchase a puppy is “for the kids to play with”. Be sure your research helps you decide on a breed of dog that is a good match with children. Young children can unintentionally hurt a puppy and by the same token a rambunctious puppy can hurt or frighten a small child. It is ideal to socialize them at a young age, but parents should assume the responsibility of constant watchfulness and solid, positive-based instruction, such as some of the training tips provided by this website.

Who will feed, walk, groom and pick up after the dog? If this is to be a family dog, everyone should be committed to its care. Often it ends up with one family member attending to the dog’s primary needs, so talk it over and come to some agreements in advance. If children are involved, don’t expect them to shoulder all the responsibility, but they should be encouraged to assume some tasks. Many studies have shown that children who grow up caring for animals in a positive environment grow up to be kind, considerate adults, which becomes a benefit to society.

Lifestyle Matters

Get a cute puppy, put it in a box, and take it out when you’re in the mood to play…right? Let’s hope not. It’s time to ask some hard questions. Does your lifestyle offer sufficient time to play, socialize, and train your new dog? This will be a substantial commitment on your part, particularly with puppies in the first year. Puppies do not come with an obedience guarantee, nor will they be housebroken. The quality of you new dog’s training will be entirely up to you, dependent on your previous experience and willingness to learn. For their temperaments and personalities to be well balanced, dogs need plenty of early positive interaction with people and, at least occasionally, with other dogs. Like children, they need consistent love, guidance, positive feedback, and the general consideration of their family.

Consider your own home. Is it a place where your dog can live well balanced and secure? Do you have a yard; it is properly fenced? If you don’t have a yard, are you willing to commit to daily exercise? Of course, puppies grow up and your accommodation must be appropriate for the mature version of your dog. Each breed has different needs and characteristics when it comes to proper exercise, which is essential to consider to keep your dog happy, balanced, and healthy. As much as you may like the look of a specific breed, be sure you are capable of providing a physical environment that is comfortable and appropriate for your dog.

Do you need to consider a budget for the cost of caring for your dog? This would involve quality food, regular vet checkups, licensing, plus bedding, toys, leashes, etc. Such things as obedience training, regular grooming, and pet insurance may also be considered. It won’t be a huge amount, but be prepared for the additional expense in your household budget.

Never buy a dog as a surprise gift. A puppy can be a marvelous gift, but only if the giver has thoroughly discussed the matter with the recipient in advance. All of the previous considerations must be reviewed with the recipient, and they need to be the major influence in the choice of breed. Giving a surprise puppy is never appropriate. Too often it’s unwanted and subsequently abandoned or neglected.

Deciding on Details

The question comes up of choosing male vs. female. The answer is truly a matter of personal taste. Most studies about males being more aggressive and females being more affectionate prove to be hogwash or 99.9% unadulterated bunk. Both males and females have a tendency to roam, and castrated males roam probably as much as non-castrated males. Males may be more dominant, but submissive males can be found too. The temperament and level of dominance varies from breed to breed. The assertiveness of a male Saluki cannot be compared to that of a male Staffordshire.

The adult vs. puppy question reflects an owner’s situation. A home with very young children may opt for a less clumsy, already trained adult. Puppies are advantageous if the children understand that they cannot rip the ears of their puppy and glue them on in the morning, and are of a responsible age to contribute to the puppy’s care. Parents, of course, are the source from which respect for animals disseminates. Puppies bond closer to the family unit, some believe, but a well-adjusted adult can often adjust quickly and be a wonderful family asset too (as well as an immediate guardian).

The goals you set for your dog also affect your decision. If you desire a show dog, you will need to research breeders of your intended breed, see their dogs, and talk to present owners of the dogs. Dog people love to talk about their dogs and will happily tell you about the character of the breed, proclivities, as well as setbacks and dislikes. A show-quality animal cannot be acquired at a pet shop since the intention of pet shops is to sell pets. Show animals are more than pets; they must be super-trained, temperamentally balanced and athletic.

What Will your dog do?

Obedience training is a necessary consideration and, while all owners should train their dogs in the basic commands, some owners will wish to compete for obedience trial titles. The kennel clubs run obedience competition for all dogs, not just purebreds but also neutered animals and mixed-breed animals. In addition to obedience competitions, there’s dog agility, rally, flyball, dock diving, weight pulling, tracking and field, and more.

If your needs for a companion animal are basic, it is possible that a visit to a shelter could be the answer for a stray mixed breed or even a purebred. Dogs in shelters are in desperate need of good homes and if in good health will make fine companions.

Health Concerns

Research into your chosen breed is necessary to find out about potential health problems. Certain breeds are prone to particular conditions and physical flaws. Hip dysplasia, entropion, cancer, and liver problems plague many of the most popular dogs in the world. For this reason, a responsible breeder that performs regular health testing is essential to acquire a healthy animal that will live to its maximum age in optimum health.

Necessary Paperwork

If you are sure that you desire a purebred dog, it is vital that you know what you are looking for from the breeder. At the most basic level, you want to understand the difference between pedigrees and registration papers.

A pedigree is a document that traces back a dog’s linage for three generations or more. Acquiring such a document will tell you who the dog’s parents, grandparents, etc., were. Looking into these dogs and their current health and history will give the new owner an indication about the quality of the animal they are purchasing and what they can expect for that animal in the years to come. A pedigree can be filled out for any dog or mutt.

Kennel club registration papers are necessary to ascertain the lineage of a purebred dog. For your dog to be registered with the appropriate kennel club, the owner of the litter is required to fill out litter registration applications, one for each puppy in the litter. In an AKC application, Section “A” must be filled or do not purchase the dog. Upon acceptance of the breeder’s litter application, individual puppy registrations are sent. Information included is breed, sex and color, date of puppy’s birth, registered name of sire and dam, and name of breeder. The requirements of the different registries can vary, and these procedures are subject to change. Contact your national kennel club to verify the proceedings. Remember, without the appropriate papers filled out completely, you should not accept the puppy as purebred.


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