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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Choosing the perfect Dog.

If you’ve decided a dog is the right pet for you, congratulations. People with dogs tend to be healthier and happier, and suffer less from depression, stress, high blood pressure, heart disease, and loneliness than those without. A close relationship with a dog can provide you with years of protection, companionship, and unconditional love.

While the rewards of owning a dog are greater than any other pet, so, too, are the responsibilities. All dogs need daily outdoor exercise, regular medical check-ups, and a lot of attention from their owners. To make sure you find the perfect canine friend, it’s important to choose a dog that best fits in with your lifestyle.

Things to remember:

1.  One size doesn’t fit all
What size dog fits your lifestyle? Even though it seems logical that a smaller dog would be happier than a larger one in an apartment or a condo without a yard, that isn’t necessarily true. All dogs do need daily exercise and outdoor activity, but some need more than others.

For example, over sized Newfoundlands actually prefer lounging around home and taking leisurely walks. And the tiniest of terriers can be extremely rambunctious and need lots of exercise and outdoor stimulation.

2. Puppy or mature dog?
There’s no denying that puppies are adorable, but along with the cuteness comes added responsibility. Puppies require more time and attention for housetraining and behavior training, which may include patiently tolerating “accidents” and chewing phases. For these reasons, people who don’t have time to meet a puppy’s needs or prefer not to deal with training, often decide to adopt an older dog.

Additionally, small children or elderly adults in your family may not have the patience or ability to manage a puppy’s exuberance.

 3. Purebred or mixed breed dogs

Another choice may be between a purebred or mixed breed. Some people prefer purebred dogs because they enjoy participating in dog shows, or are drawn to the “look” or characteristics of a particular breed.

Other people prefer mixed breed, “one-of-a-kind” dogs. Adopting a dog that needs a good home, whether it’s a puppy or mature dog, a purebred or a mixed breed, can be very rewarding. Some people say adopted dogs exhibit a special bond and appreciation for their owners.

Pros and Cons:

Purebred Mixed Breed
  • Tend to know general physical characteristics, such as size.
  • Tend to know general behavioral characteristics, such as temperament, personality.
  • Greater risk of genetic health problems.
  • Expensive to purchase, unless adopted from breed-specific rescue.
  • Every dog is individual; you’re not guaranteed a certain personality or appearance just because the dog is a purebred.
  • Genetic diversity means less prone to health problems.
  • Desirable qualities of more than one breed, such as size, temperament, personality.
  • Less expensive or nominal “adoption” fee.
  • Less certainty about physical and behavioral characteristics, especially with a puppy.  However, if you can identify the type of puppy (e.g. Lab mix), you have better chance of knowing how he’ll turn out.
  • Characteristics of more than one breed can be both good and bad.
 Matching a dog’s “happiness factors” with your own:

There are over 150 different types of purebred dogs, and an exponentially larger number of mixed breeds. You can narrow down your choices by realistically matching a dog’s “happiness factors” with your own. Hang around dog parks and talk to other dog owners. They can give you clues as to whether a certain type of dog will be happy with what you are able to provide.
Keep in mind that dogs were originally bred to serve specific functions. Kennel Clubs have divided dog breeds into seven different groups, based on those origins:

Herding dogs (Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds) thrive on a farm with animals to herd. To be happy and well-adjusted in an urban setting they need lots of exercise, a job to do, or to be involved in a sport such as agility or obedience.

 Hounds (Beagles, Bassets, Greyhounds) naturally track other animals – and humans – by smell or sight. Sight-driven dogs move quickly, their speed and stamina making them difficult to catch if they get away from you. Smell-driven dogs move more slowly, but are prone to wander off to track a scent. They can be very vocal, howling or baying.

Non-Sporting dogs (Chows, Dalmatians, Poodles) seldom serve their original purposes – for example, Poodles hunted truffles, and Dalmatians were “coach dogs”. Non-sporting dogs are popular family companions when their individual activities levels and needs are a good match for those of family members’.
Sporting dogs (Pointers, Retrievers, Setters, Spaniels), bred to dash around all day finding land and waterfowl for their masters, are active, alert and require daily, invigorating exercise. They like to be around people, getting lots of attention. Labrador and Golden retrievers, both members of the Sporting group, are two of the most popular family pets.
Terriers (Westies, Fox Terriers, Wheatons) are energetic, tenacious, brave and determined… and they love to dig! Developed to hunt and kill rodents and foxes that raided farms, terriers are a feisty breed. Quite independent, they’re difficult to train. Although they can be friendly, loyal and stable pets, some may be “yappy” and will nip boisterous children.

Toy dogs (Cavalier King Charles, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers) are bred as companions - they only want to be with you! But even lapdogs need exercise. Small and fragile, they can be excitable and yappy, and can easily get under foot. Children and the elderly must take extra care around them. Loyal and intelligent, they love to learn tricks.
 Working dogs (Akita, Boxer, Doberman, Great Dane, Newfoundland) are born to “work” at a specific physical job, whether it be guarding, hauling, rescuing or sledding. Many are not ideal as family pets, but can be with proper socialization and obedience training. Independent, strong willed and physically overpowering, they must be kept under control and gets lots of appropriate exercise.

Where to find the dog of your dreams:

Breeders are the place to look for a purebred dog. Responsible breeders will encourage you to visit their facilities – often a home – to meet and interact with their dogs. Reputable breeders want to make sure that their animals are a good match with the people purchasing them and that they will be living in a healthy, loving environment.

Advantages: You’ll get to meet the parents of the puppy, and get a health guarantee, instructions for care and follow-up advice on training and behavior problems.

Disadvantages: A bit expensive, but believe me it's all worth it.

2. Rescue organizations.
Rescue organizations literally rescue “homeless” dogs. Although some rescues have facilities where the animals are housed, most shelter their dogs temporarily in foster homes, at boarding facilities or veterinary offices. In these places the animals are screened and observed for health and behavioral problems.

Advantages: The health and behavior of dogs are screened; rescues may know if the dog is friendly with kids, other animals, strangers, etc. Adoption fees (donations) vary from nominal to costly.

 Disadvantages: A rigorous screening process of the prospective fur parent. Like for example, you are confident that you are a responsible dog owner, however you only live in an apartment, if the rescue organization require dog owners to have a yard, then you will not be able to adopt a dog. (Still on a case to case basis)

Selecting a dog:
Breeders and rescue organizations usually let prospective owners meet and interact with available dogs. If possible, try to visit the dog a couple of times to best gauge a dog’s temperament before making a decision.

1. See how a dog responds when you have the chance to be with him in a pen or petting area. A dog that approaches you and wants to play may make a friendly pet. One that hides or is not approachable may require more work and time to become a good companion.

2. Ask the breeder or rescue handler about a dog or puppy’s characteristics. They should be able to tell you if a dog is good with other pets or children, for example.

3.Observe the dog interact with littermates or other dogs.

4. When selecting a puppy, kneel on the ground and call the puppy to you. Click your fingers to get the puppy's attention. If he comes quickly, he may have a strong attachment to people. If he stops to smell the flowers along the way, he may have an independent streak. If he doesn't come at all, it may be a sign that he’ll have difficulty forming a bond with people.(Still on a case to case basis)

1 comment :

  1. Finding a dog whose inherent characteristics match one's personality, and that of one's family, is absolutely key. The wrong fit always ends up bad for both parties. Very well written article. I did not know poodles were bred to hunt truffles. I always thought that duty was reserved for special pigs. I read somewhere that poodles were alarm dogs who slept upon the pillow of queens, alerting them to potential attacks. Learn something new everyday. Anyway, very good to know. Another important part to pet ownership is insurance. We have trupanion and we love it. No pet should be without insurance.


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