1. What size dog are you looking for?
If you cannot pinpoint a specific weight, then think of a breed close to the size. Mini dogs could be the size of a Chihuahua, a small dog type of terrier, medium a beagle, large a Labrador, and extra-large a greyhound or English Sheep Dog.
2. If you know how big the dog you want should be, do you have enough room for it?
Just because you have a postage stamp apartment doesn’t mean you cannot own an English Sheep Dog. As long as your pet has the opportunity to get plenty of exercises outside – either in their own fenced in the back yard or a long walk in the park – room may not be a factor.
3. How much exercise can you give the dog of your choice?
Research the exercise requirements of the breed you are interested in before you get the dog. Your perfect breed may require more exercise than you devote your time to and you do not want your new pet to be miserable.
4. Indoor or outdoor?
This may not even be a consideration for some people since the answer will be, ‘In the house, of course’, which is fine as long they get enough exercise. Also, keep in mind that the breed you get may not be suited to extreme heat or cold and should be in climate-controlled environments.
5. How much time can you devote to grooming?
This can be looked at in two different ways: you can take on the grooming chores or you can take the dog to a professional groomer. Either way, you will be responsible for helping your companion keep a tangle-free coat, their nails trimmed, and their eyes and ears clean.
6. What is your dog to you and what are you hoping to do with your furry friend?
Believe it or not, what you want to do with your dog makes a difference in the type of breed you consider. Some dogs are great for lounging around with you while watching the football game while others will race you out the door to go hiking.
7. What kind of experience do you have with dogs?
If you’ve never owned a dog before – and we’re not talking about the family dog you have growing up – you may want to consider one of the breeds that are great for first-time owners.
8. Do you have children and do you have the time to teach them both how to co-exist?
Some dogs are better with children than others, but any breed, when raised with a loving hand and trained properly, can co-exist with children who are also taught to respect and love their pets. In this particular case, sometimes looking for an older dog that already has a good reputation with children would be beneficial.
Let’s take a look at some other things you may want to consider before making your final decision about the new member of your family that you want to bring home.
Toy dogs – this term refers to very small dogs that are kept as pets and commonly bred for competition purposes. When the term is used by a kennel or breed club, they are referring to the smallest dogs in their club’s registry. Chihuahua’s are the world’s smallest breed of dog and are considered toy dogs. Other toy dogs include the Japanese Chin, Pug, Yorkshire Terrier, and Shih Tzu.
A dog’s temperament is a major consideration when choosing the right one for your family. Temperament is defined as the dog’s general attitude towards people and other animals in the household. It is the combination of physical and mental traits that can be learned or inherited. When dog temperaments are tested, professionals look at their stability, confidence, friendliness, protectiveness, aggressiveness, how they play, self-defense, and whether or not they can distinguish between threatening and non-threatening situations.
While purebred dogs are usually easier to measure the temperament in, it can be done in mixed-bred dogs. It is harder if the breeds are not identifiable, but professionals have developed ways to do it. Potential owners should always meet the puppy’s sire and dam to find out what they are like in order to evaluate the litter. Many times the puppies will show similar traits to their parents, sometimes even traits of the grand and great grandparents.
Three types of distinct temperaments are usually discussed when evaluating temperament: dominant, balanced, and submissive. Let’s take a look at how each is defined.
Dominant – Dogs are pack animals and some are more dominant over the pack than others. They are the ones that make and enforce the rules. Unless you assume the role of pack leader, dominant dogs will challenge you for that leadership role, trying to move up the chain of authority and be dominant over you and your family. Dominant breeds are not good for households with children under the age of 10. These types of dogs need a firm hand from every member of the family and just one timid family member will be pushed around by the dog.
Balanced – Neither leaders nor followers, these dogs are content to follow you as long as you establish that you are the leader of the pack. They will obey you because leaders make the rules and discipline the pack members. Only if there is no leader will a balanced dog step into to fill the void? Balanced dogs are confident enough to handle children’s ‘tender affections’ without getting aggressive and showing patience.
Submissive – These are the pack members who have absolutely no desire to lead. They see everyone around them as being higher up in the pack hierarchy than they are and they are not good in positions such as a watch or guard dogs. These types of dogs are the best types for families with young children or who have never owned a dog before. Owners need to be gentle and tender with these types of dogs.
It is best to keep in mind that there are dominant and submissive dogs in each breed even if the breed is normally a gentle one. Someone has to be the leader.
Our dogs need exercise just like we do in order for them to remain healthy throughout their lives. It keeps them from becoming overweight and having additional health problems when they get older. Dogs love to play no matter what their age is, so the more exercise and playtime you can give them, the happier they will be and more enjoyment they will provide you as a companion.
Some of the benefits of exercise and energetic play include but are not limited to:
• Healthy body weight and fewer health problems as they age
• Better overall behavior and less acting out
• A companion to exercise with
• Social interaction skills
The question now becomes what kind of exercise is right for your dog. Just like humans, dogs are individuals and some breeds require more exercise than others. No matter what those requirements happen to be, an exercise or energetic play routine that you and your dog enjoy together is beneficial to you both.
To give you an idea of exercise regimens, we can look at the different dog groups we mentioned earlier and correlate some ideas with their overall personalities.
• Companion breeds are content with a walk a day.
• Gun (Sporting) dogs enjoy a high activity and long daily walks.
• Terriers also enjoy walks but can be just as content with energetic play.
• Hounds have the mentality to switch between work and playmaking low key walks very appealing to them.
• Guard dogs enjoy running and games with established limits.
• Herding dogs should be mentally stimulated as well as physically so games and sports are good for them.
• Northern dogs, such as Huskies, need to be active and enjoy walks and sports.
Your dog’s temperament should also be taken into consideration and the exercise built around them. For example, dominant dogs that enjoy games must be taught limits and that you are in control so that they do resort to biting if they take the game too seriously. Independent dogs that do not require a lot of social interaction with their human excel in exercising that contains runs, bike rides, and hiking. Apprehensive and shy dogs will enjoy structured routines that are not demanding, like a quiet walk.
It takes a firm, patient, and loving hand to teach your new dog some manners, manners which include not going in the house, not biting the hand that feeds it, and not taking up the entire bed. We can joke about training our dogs, but in essence, it is a very necessary evil. Just like babies, dogs come into the world not knowing that some actions are simply not welcome. Training can be handled in one of two ways: we can self-train our pets or we can take them to obedience school.
Because dogs are pack animals, having rules in their lives where they know exactly where they are in the family structure makes sense. They are secure knowing what is expected of them, and what incorrect behavior is. Therefore, once you start training your dog, you will need to follow the same rules and the same schedule day after day. This includes being consistent, confident, and getting your dog to respond and pay attention to you.
How quickly your dog gets trained depends on both of you. Some breeds are more difficult to train than others, but it can be done. You never want to be too hard on your dog as that will cause them to fear you and others, or become overly aggressive. You will train your dog to respect you and in turn, you respect your dog. If they make a mistake, correct them and move on. Don’t stay angry.
Praise your dog consistently and constantly when he or she does something to make you proud. They will remember this action and they will seek it from you over and over again. Your dog will hard to please you.
The only thing you need to properly train your dog is a good collar and leash, treats, and patience. Take your time, speak softly and cheerfully to your dog so that they pay attention to you and not get distracted, and before long, your dog will be well behaved.
Dogs get sick just like humans. In fact, we share some of the most common ailments in the world: allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes. Not all health conditions our furry companions suffer are breed and genetic related, although some breeds are more predisposed to certain ailments than others. Barring some of these, here is a list of common dog health conditions that should be seen immediately or prevented as soon as possible.
Kennel cough – a respiratory disease common in both cats and dogs that are exposed to poorly ventilated areas, cigarette smoke, overcrowding, and dust. This is usually treated with antibiotics or by vaccination.
Heartworms – probably one of the most devastating of health conditions if not detected, this parasite enters the dog’s bloodstream from a mosquito bite and reproduces in the dog’s heart. If left undetected, the heartworm will grow within the heart and lungs and ultimately kill the animal. Vaccinations and monthly preventative medicine are recommended to prevent infestation. Antibiotics started early in the infestation can save the dog.
Canine diabetes – just like in their human companions, canine diabetes is caused by the lack of the proper amount of insulin to properly breakdown and utilizes sugar in the bloodstream. Insulin injections and dietary supplements are used to treat this disease.
Caring for your pet is important. Make sure your dog is up to date to one of his or her shots and has a yearly check-up. If you notice any sudden change in behavior, take your dog into the vet as soon as possible. They can’t tell you what is wrong. They rely on you to notice that they are not well.