What Kind of Dog Should I Get?
There are many right ways to acquire a dog. There are even more ways not to buy one. I’m sure you have heard tales of friends that got a dog from a friend of a friend that just happened to have a litter of puppies available for the right price. Or the pet store that has some of the cutest little puppies in the window and your friend tells you that you just can’t wait, they will be gone soon.
Well, take pause in your impatient rush to find the cutest and cuddliest dog that is irresistible. Lets look first at what you are interested in. So if you ever asked what type of dog I should get, you should ask yourself the following basic, but all important questions below before before getting hooked.
1) Do you like large dogs, small dogs, or any specific range in size?
To answer this you not only have to ask yourself what your preference along this line is, but also some of the following: Is the dog going to be an indoor or outdoor animal, and depending on which answer, how much time, if any will the dog spend inside your house? Do you have the right size vehicle for transporting?
2) If so how large is too large?
Larger breeds of dogs tend, not to live as long as smaller ones. This is not a consideration of larger breeds (I happen to have Alaskan Malamutes which are on the large side), but rather a point in fact. Even this can become a consideration in a purchase. If children are entered into the formula, they will need to be brought to understand this. There is a big difference for a child in a dog’s passing after only 11 years rather than say 18 or 20. There is a much greater chance of the children still being young when this happens.
3) Do you have the capacity in living space and yard for a particular size or breed of dog?
Are you in an apartment, condo, etc. that even allows animals? Don’t make the mistake of many and go against rules laid out by your landlord, and agreed to by you. These animals almost always find there way to a shelter or booted out when the option of get rid of the dog, or get evicted is presented to the tenant. Make sure your C.C.& R.’s, and any other codes that regulate you in this manner, allow the particular animal you are bringing home. A lot of grief and resentment can be avoided.
Is the yard fenced? Is is fenced adequately? Is the breed of dog you are bringing home known for digging, tunneling, or prone to need to get out and roam? If so make sure your yard is escape proof beyond the normal, or you will be chasing your dog around the neighborhood.
Types of fencing differ greatly from one to another. Block walls, if high enough, are virtually escape proof. Fences such as chain link, wood paling, concrete paneled wood look alike, and wrought iron are good, but can be dug under between the foundations of the posts which hold them up. Placing concrete runner strips or footings between the posts will prevent most dig-outs.
Ask the breeder or seller what to expect from your puppy when it grows up. Some dogs can chew through smaller gauge chain link fences, some are small enough to fit between wrought iron rails, some were genetically bred to tunnel after rodents and the like, negating a shallow strip of concrete or curb (not a standard wall footing), and get out, some are legitimate high jumpers and can either clear or scale walls of inadequate height. You can spend a lot of money for a puppy, and it can escape easily, within a very short time, if you are not prepared.
4) Do you like short hair, wire hair, long hair?
All these questions pertain to not only your willingness to care for (as in bathing and brushing a long coated dog, or picking up hairs all over your furniture and carpet all the time), but also relate to your ability to even keep a certain size dog. Consider the restrictions that would be placed on the dog should you not allow enough room.
5) Is the dog going to spend any time at all in the house, and if so is there enough room?
Certain breeds require more than just the area, the inside of a house can offer. It is important to understand which breeds these are. It is equally important to make preparations are in place, to care for a house dog. Indoor dogs must have a way to egress the building on their own volition. Fire or other disasters can befall your home while you are away, and the dog must have a way to escape possible death.
6) Is shedding going to be a problem? (and be honest)
The importance of this can be elusive at times. If you are a neatnick, you can drive yourself crazy picking up hair all day. Anything that you think may not bother you now, may become unbearable over time. It happens all the time, in every facet of daily life. I mention this now, because we are dealing once again, with another life. A life that is directly affected by you. A life that can not help itself out of a problem, you get it into. The streets and pounds are full of dogs that people “thought they could take care of with no problem”, only to find out that cleaning up, or some other thing was too much to continue with. Sometimes it just became a chore to be forgotten. If I can get just one person to take a second look, admit that the possibility exists, and not purchase a dog for those reasons, I can take pride in possibly helping to save another dog before Rescue has to become involved.
7) What temperament are you looking for, wired, calm, aloof, etc.?
With the above section in hand, please apply this question with equal fervor. You must find a dog with a compatible temperament to yours, or the one you honestly care for. Remember, you will have to live with it for a long time.
8) Will the dog be too much for your kids as it grows?
If you have toddlers, or any young children, they will grow at a substantially slower rate than a large breed dog. The puppy that is only 10 inches tall at the shoulder and 15 pounds now, may be 28 inches and 130 pounds in 6 to 9 months. Your one year old is not going have that kind of a growth spurt. This is not an indication that a larger breed dog is not the answer. It is only mentioned to lend more thought to the consideration of choices. Now is the time to consider all the options.
9) What age puppy do you think will best suit your situation?
As stated before, large breed, small puppies grow fast. If you think that this is a potential problem, you might be considering a more mature dog to start with. Be sure in your choice of an older puppy, that there is no excess baggage to be brought along with it. If the dog was mistreated, or neglected, it might have some undesirable characteristics hooked to it’s
10) Do you plan on taking the dog traveling or in the car a lot?
Larger dogs require more room, hence larger vehicles. For the safety of the dog, and yourself and passengers, it is always best to place your dog in an approved (proper size) crate for traveling. Safe for the dog because, in sudden turns, stops, starts, or an accident the dog can be thrown into objects that can impale, windows, and people. Dogs have been known to be thrown out of open windows. Objects in the car being thrown around in a accident can injure a dog that is not confined. Safe for people because, a lose dog being thrown around in a car, can impair the drivers ability to control the car safely. There are special restraints for cars on the market for dogs riding without use of a kennel.
Have a pickup truck? Plan on caring the dog in an approved crate in the back, NOT lose. Anyone planning on leaving their dog lose in the back of a pickup truck, please stop
reading now. You will not like my thoughts on much of anything, if your mentality runs in that direction. I, and many others, are tired of dodging dog carcasses in the road, left behind by people that don’t have the time to care for a dog properly, and don’t care about the dog because, after all, they can just go out and get another one. What’s the big deal, right? Sorry for the sarcasm.
11) Are you looking for a watch dog?
Certain breeds were bred for this purpose, others are not. The ones that are not, usually do not make good watch dogs. If you are looking for this specific trait, be sure to narrow your search to those breeds that were meant to perform this task.
12) Are you looking for a guard dog?
The application noted above, stands true for this question as well. It takes a special temperament to be a guard or attack dog. The breeds that were not specifically designed to perform these task should not be pressed into this type of service. Chances are too great that they will not perform to your expectations, and they will be in search of a new home again soon. Do your homework on the breed of dog best suited to your purposes.
13) Are you just interested in a companion or pet?
In asking what kind of dog you are in search of, the previous questions are of little consequence, if you are not sure what your main purpose in acquiring one is. The range in personalities, temperaments, purposes, uses, and sizes is far reaching. Most breeds can fit into the category of companion or pet. There are however, some breeds that are not as even tempered, (or should I say adjusted) to be the perfect pet. Again, another example of the importance of investigating thoroughly. If you are as diligent in your research for the right dog, as most people are in their quest for the right vehicle, at the right price, you will probably have no problem.
14) Is the dog going to have access to other animals at your home?
Another area of concern should be any other pets or animals you have at home. Depending on the breed, and the types of other pets, there is the potential for conflict. When talking with breeders, inform them of any other pets in the house, or animals, (horses, etc.) that may come in contact with the dog. They should be able to give you invaluable information on socializing certain types of animals and their particular breed of dog. If you have a
house cat, be prepared to introduce the new dog properly. (There are books on that as well!)
15) Can you afford everything that goes into this venture?
Down to basics. If you can’t afford the things necessary to maintain a dog, now is not the right time to be looking for one to purchase. There are many un-for-seen costs, even
though you may think you have thought of everything. Below is a list of many of them. It is not meant to be a complete list:
- Scheduled Veterinary visits
- Escape proof fencing / kennel runs, etc.
- Dog house
- Dog door
- Food & water containers
- Car accessories
- Leashes, collars, etc.
- Licenses and / or registrations
- Additional cost to travel expenses
- Grooming supplies
- Obedience classes
- Additional insurance (if coverage is not included)
16) Do you take a lot of vacations and trips, and if so is the dog staying behind or going with you?
If you plan on being gone much of the time, you can not take the new dog along, and you have to board, I suggest you wait until such time as you can be home for the new dog. The boarding kennel is no place for a newly acquired pet. If your plans include the dog on trips and vacations, be prepared. Longer trips usually require adjustment to the extended travel. Work the dog up to the longer distances. Car sickness is not uncommon, so be ready for that contingency. Take ample food and water along for the duration of the trip if possible. Some dogs do not handle changes in water very well, and intestinal disorders are not unusual when they are forced to drink water they are not accustomed to. This can make you trip rather unpleasant. Make arrangements for accommodations for the dog well in advance of the trip, including a place for the dog to stay when you’re attending events or attractions where they can not go.
17) Are there areas to take the dog to, and if not are you willing to take the time to drive to them?
Dogs, especially larger breeds, need exercise. If there are no places within walking distance for this purpose, you will need to make arrangements to drive them. This is something else to consider in you research. Find the shortest way to get to the training locations to make things easier on you. This is a long term project. Any real inconvenience will grow old, real fast. Once again, be honest in your assessment of what you are willing to do over the long haul. This is a long term commitment.
18) Have you read anything or know anything about the breed of dog you are thinking of getting?
Research is the very best friend you can have. Before choosing a particular breed, read everything you can get your hands on. Ask friends and relatives that have or have had a certain breed, questions. Pick their brains. Find out all you can. Call rescue’s for the breeds you are interested in. Find out why most of the dogs that wind up, got there in the first place. Is is something special about the breed that some people can not handle? Time to find out before you are committed.
19) Have you talked to breeders about the type of dog?
Discuss your concerns, ask questions, and probe deeply into the knowledge base of the breeders. Not just one or two breeders, as many as you can find. Weigh the information. Believe me, it will be different to some degree or another, from one breeder to another. You will have to be the judge of the veracity of the information.
To be fair from the onset, to yourself and your dog, you must first make up your mind that this is what you want to do, i.e.: train this animal. You must be willing to commit to continuous training, even when you are not formally out training, tedious repetition, and yes, sometimes, even demeaning actions in the public eye. In other words if you can not see yourself making nice with your dog in public in order to give needed praise, or let yourself get in an awkward position which would be noticed by others because it would be embarrassing, then training is not for you. In fact, unless you are willing to do this, or have someone else train the dog for you, you are in for possibly years of problem behavior from your dog, and the fact is you should not even have a dog. These types of problems usually result in “owners” turning the dog out on it’s own, giving the dog to the local pound, having difficulty with neighbors in noise control, biting incidents, etc.
This is especially true when a pet is given as a gift to anyone, but particularly a child. Unless there is complete understanding of the responsibilities, hard work, continual every-day, many times boring aspects of owning and caring for this new pet, there will be problems. Unfortunately, the majority of the problems are for the poor unsuspecting animal. Humans can just, “get rid of the problem” and go on with their respective lives, if the situation becomes uncomfortable. The dog on the other hand has very few options, and all of them are given by the owners in the outcome of their decision based on their options.
Where To Get Your Puppy?
Well, now, lets consider the dogs options. The pound (shelter); dog, if very lucky is discovered by some loving human and taken to a new home and lives happily ever-after, (not very likely, and not very often), dog is discovered, taken to a new home (not much better than the first). and cycles through to the pound once again or on to one of the other human options. The dog is not discovered by anyone and in a very short…read more
New Puppy Checklist
Now that you have gotten past the starting point, which is making your decision to get and train a puppy, (and by the way congratulations) and you have purchased everything the breeder told you that you needed, i.e.: what kind of food, leash, collar, I.D. tag, etc., its time to get past those few basics and make sure you have taken care of every thing else the new puppy will need just before you take it home…read more
Training a New Puppy
Dogs are not unlike people in many respects., many breeds appear to become bored with repetition more quickly. If you can’t make it interesting and different from time to time, you may lose their attention. They seem to almost have a need, to know the reason for having to learn certain things. There are several methods or ideas to inject different and interesting training procedures to help keep your dog enthused.Starting out with a regimented schedule is …read more
Where To Train Your Dog
As indicated previously, your locations of training should change as often as possible once you have finished the initial process of getting your dog comfortable with the training procedures. There are certain rules to follow, which can make your training sessions go much easier, and also help to keep your dog interested and attentive…read more
Where Not To Train Your Dog
In the previous chapters, we have dealt somewhat with this topic. Let’s get into it a bit more here. As mentioned earlier, the most important message I can give you, is to pick a safe place to train. Not only for your dog, but for you also. It your attempt to find different locations to vary the training session, never train in unlighted areas at night, or any other place that you would not go to even if you were not training…read more
When Not to Train Your Dog
There are certain times that training should be curtailed. These times are sometimes the most elusive of all to not only understand, but to implement. It’s difficult for a trainer to admit that, “today, I am not capable of training” for some reason or another. It’s also difficult to say that in relation to your dog. i.e.:” My dog is not capable of learning what I am training today.”…read more
Varying The Training Locations
The old saying, “variety is the spice of life”, rings true in the world of dog training as well. Arctic breeds have a propensity toward “attention deficit disorder”, or so it would seem, sometimes. In reality, they just, plain, get bored with repetition, and redundancy, as do I, sometimes. Don’t you? In order to avoid this situation, there are several ways to keep your dogs attention…read more
How to Distinguish and Identify Dog Temperaments
As trainers, it is incumbent upon us to get to know our dog as well as possible. We need to understand their moods, reactions to specific stimuli, and the periods of their ups and downs. This includes everyday living experiences, not just during
training. These observations and understandings will help you in your training. Coupled with the above, is knowing what temperament you are dealing with. In order to deal with a certain temperament…read more
What to expect From Your Dog
Today, more and more, we find that people expect unbelievable feats of accomplishment from all aspects of life than were previously though reasonable. Many things contribute to this strain on humans and animals alike. Television, Movies, News Broadcasts, and sensational specials, depict animals in feats of daring, and performing acts that only the most advanced trainers should attempt…read more