Getting the Right Dog

Many people select a dog breed simply because they like a specific feature such as the breed’s colour or type of coat. As a child, you may have even fallen in love with a particular breed after seeing it on television or in a movie. In cases like this, many people make the decision to buy a dog based on superficial reasons without thinking the decision through. Owning and caring for a dog is a big commitment and a decision that should not be made lightly. So how do you make the right choice when selecting a breed of dog?

The oldest rule for choosing a breed of dog states that your decision should be influenced by the size of your home. It used to be the case that you could not keep a large-breed dog without having a spacious garden or backyard for it to run around. It is entirely possible, however, to care for a large-breed dog in an apartment or urban dwelling as long as you can provide for the dog’s basic needs. There are many cases where dog owners have large enough homes but, because they fail to meet the dog’s basic needs for exercise, the dog does not do well.

Rather than basing your breed decision on the size of your home, try to choose a breed that matches your lifestyle and your level of commitment. If you have a soft, meek personality, for example, you may want to avoid dominant breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, and German Shepherds. These dogs often exhibit independent or strong-willed tendencies so you need to be firm with them in order to stay in control. If you lead an active lifestyle and tend to be more extroverted, a friendly breed like the Golden Retriever, Border Collie, or Labrador Retriever might be more your speed. These dogs are very active so they require plenty of daily exercise to stay fit and healthy.

One of your most important tasks as a dog owner is to ensure that your dog’s need for exercise is met. Having a large garden or backyard is not enough – you need to take your dog for a daily walk to work off its energy. Dogs that do not receive enough exercise are prone to developing behavioural problems and they are more likely to become destructive. It is always better to be prepared by understanding your chosen breed’s activity level than to find out that you aren’t given your dog enough exercise when it chews up your couch or suffers from lack of activity.

In addition to meeting your dog’s need for exercise, there are other things you should consider in choosing a breed. To determine whether you have the time and means to commit to a dog, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does everyone in your family like dogs?
  • Do you have the time to devote to walking your dog on a daily basis?
  • Are you willing to attend obedience classes with your dog for at least 6 months or can you commit to training him yourself?
  • Do you have room in your budget to cover the cost of feeding your dog?
  • Can you afford to take your dog to the vet twice a year and can you cover the cost of vaccinations and preventive medicine?
  • Can you commit to being a responsible dog owner by keeping your dog on a leash and picking up after him?
  • Do you have the space in your home to provide your dog with his own area including a crate or dog bed?
  • Do you have the patience to deal with puppy behaviour for up to a year?
  • Are you able to commit to caring for a dog for his entire life, at least 10 to 15 years?

If you didn’t answer “yes” to even one of these questions, you may not be ideally suited for dog ownership. A dog is a living, breathing thing that not only requires a certain degree of care but deserves to be treated properly. If you cannot commit to providing your dog with a high level of care, you should not become a dog owner. Check out our page on Breeds for a better understanding on the various breeds of dogs.

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