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Choosing the Right Dog for Your Family

Introduction

Whether you're thinking of getting a purebred dog or a mix, you should take the time to do some research into various dog breeds. If you're thinking of a mix, it will make your shelter search much easier if you have in mind "something like a lab" or "some kind of terrier." You will know more about dogs having gone through the search. And if you think you already know what breed you want, you may want to look at some of these resources anyway. You may find that the perfect breed is something you have never considered before.

When inquiring about differnt dogs, whether it is a shelter dog or purebred dog, you can, and really should, also expect to hear the negatives as well as the positives about each dog/ breed. This is not intended to scare you away, but you should be really sure the dog/breed you choose is the right one. There are over 400 breeds of dog in the world, and no one breed is right for everyone. Many animals end up in shelters because the initial homework was not done before acquiring the pet. Take your time and find the 'right' dog for you and your family.

Things to consider when you're looking for a dog:

What size is right for you?
Big means different things to different people. Some people think that medium size means 25 pounds, for others it means 75. If you can't figure out weights , try using examples i.e. you are looking for something the size of a Cocker Spaniel or a German Shepherd Dog.

How much space do you have?
This is related to the last question, but not really dependent on it--it's possible to keep a large dog in a small space, provided you can give it plenty of opportunities for exercise outside the house or apartment. But keep in mind that if your house is very small, a large breed may take up all the available space. On the other hand, some very large breeds are quite inactive while their smaller cousins will be constantly on the go. That large breed make take up the whole living room rug, but he might just do better there than an extremely active small dog.

How much exercise can you give a dog?
Some can get by with a short walk, others need to run for hours every day. Consider honestly what you're willing and able to do with your dog. Be sure to take into consideration both your schedule and your health. If your work schedule keeps you busy 60 hours a week, don't get an active dog. Dogs need exercise daily, not just when its convenient to your work schedule.

Where will the dog live?
Many people feel strongly that all dogs should live in the house, and just about any dog will do well inside if it's given enough exercise. If your dog will be spending a lot of time outside, you must consider your climate in choosing a breed. Some dogs cannot tolerate heat, others are equally incapable of being out in the cold. If your dog must live outside, be sure that it has adequate (enclosed, covered, maybe even heated) shelter, and make an extra effort to spend time with your dog. Remember its a big responsibility to own a pet. The pet should be a part of your family.

How much grooming are you willing to do? Are you willing to spend the time and effort required to keep a long coat free of tangles and mats? How about the money to have a dog professionally groomed on a regular basis? Some non shedding breeds need to be clipped every 6 weeks. Even dogs that are fairly low-maintenance can go through periods of profuse shedding during which their coats need extra attention. And all dogs shed. They all need to have their nails, eyes, and ears taken care of on a regular basis.

What do you plan to do with your dog?
Do you want a loyal couch potato? A jogging partner? A good watchdog? Obedience, agility, herding, hunting or showing your dog are just some of the many things you can do with them. Think ahead about what you would like to do with your dog. This will affect your breed choice.

What past experience do you have with dogs?
This question shouldn't be taken to suggest that you shouldn't get a dog if you haven't already had one. Everyone has a first dog at some time in their life. There are breeds that are not recommended for novice owners. If you have had dogs before, think about what you liked about them Expect the breeder to ask you about previously owned dogs.

Information Available Online

There are some very good resources on the net Take your time and research them well. A good place to begin is Dog Faq's

Dog Shows, Kennel Clubs, and Breeders

Go to a dog show in your area. You can't learn everything about a breed when you see it at a show, but it's a good way to learn about the various breeds, and a good way to meet local breeders if you've already chosen a breed.

If you can't get to a show, try to meet some adult dogs of the breed you like in person. Do you know someone who has a dog of your new favorite breed? Does a friend of a friend have a dog you can meet? Is there a dog park, dog beach, or dog run in your area where you could meet some dogs and ask lots of questions? Never buy a dog just because you liked its picture in a book.

Get in touch with the national breed clubs ("parent club") for the breeds you like. They will send you information packets on their breed, and they will put you in touch with local clubs and breeders. You can get information about National Breed Clubs online or by calling the Canadian Kennel Club at 416-675-5511

If you are reading this, you have already discovered the Nipissing Kennel All-Breed Kennel Club. It's a good place to meet local breeders and their dogs, and to find out about dog activities going on in your area. Find out if your local club has a breeder referral service -- if they do, the breeders they refer you to should be those who breed according to the club's code of ethics.

Once you've found your dog

Purebred dogs certainly have different temperaments and different physical traits which reflect the indivuality of various breeds. All breeds were created for specific purposes so keep the dog's original job in mind when you watch its behavior. You should also remember that every dog is an individual. Pick your individual dog carefully, and don't be afraid to ask the breeder or rescue group or shelter staff lots of questions about your individual dog's temperament.

Whatever breed or mix you choose, remember that no dog is perfect. If anyone tells you that a breed has no health or temperament problems, get a second opinion. All breeds have problems, and someone who really cares about the improvement of their breed will be aware of them and tell you what they're doing to allivieate them. Do lots of research so you can be prepared to ask about the problems specific to your chosen breed, whatever it is. These things are not meant to scare you away from a breed, but to let you know what to expect so there will be no surprised down the road. Akitas or Rottweillers, for instance, are beautiful, noble, dignified animals; but you'd be in for some trouble if you got one without knowing that many of them tend toward aggressiveness and therefore need a great deal of training and careful handling. This doesn't mean that Akitas or Rottweillers can't be wonderful pets, but only that you have to be prepared to do the work they need and deserve when you get one.

All dogs should be trained. Small dogs as well as the big dogs. A puppy kindergarten or basic obedience classes such as those offered by the Nipissing Kennel Club will help you socialize your dog and teach her/him basic manners. It will make her/him a better companion and canine citizen. It will also help you bond better during the getting to know each other stage.

A well-behaved, housebroken, quiet, loyal dog doesn't just happen. Any dog can be made into the ideal house pet and companion dog, if the owner is willing to work at developing that relationship.

Be a Responsible Dog Owner . Enjoy your new family member. Spay or Neuter your pets.


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