A dog will do his best to please you and keep you smiling. He will curl up with you when you are feeling down or need some serious relaxation. He won't hold your mistakes against you or prejudge you for your looks, faults or lack of know-how. He'll be your unconditional friend and will play ball with you as long as you wish. He'll forgive you for all your mistakes, never holding them against you later. Sleeping at your feet and loving to please you, he will enjoy just spending time with you. He'll do his best to protect you, because you will be his master.
However, a dog also relies on you for everything—from his food, water, shelter, leadership, exercise, grooming, to his training, veterinary care, companionship and protection. Know what you are getting into. Are you prepared to spend the next 10-15 years of your life taking care of your dog? That is about how long your dog will live. Can you afford the added expense of a dog? When you get a dog, it is a life-long commitment, and should not be treated like a piece of furniture that you can just "get rid of" when you get tired of it. After all, this dog will be part of your family. Would you get rid of your children because you were tired of them wetting their beds? Are you prepared to accept the fact that dogs are not little humans and invest some time into learning how to properly treat your dog in order to keep him or her balanced? Before you bring a dog into your home think long and hard. Are you prepared for the responsibility? Do you understand natural dog behavior? Do you understand what makes a dog tick and what it instinctually needs as a canine animal? Are you willing to invest the time it takes? A dog's temperament is a direct result of the owner’s ability to understand him and give him what he instinctually needs as a canine animal.
The decision to get a dog needs to be carefully thought out. Do you honestly have the time to take care of a dog? Are you prepared to walk it every day? Are you prepared to show the dog consistent leadership, putting your emotions aside and seeing it as a canine? Are you prepared to train it? What kind of dog should you get? Some people think a dog is a dog. I hear them say they don't care what breed of dog they get. There are many different breeds with many different needs. Honestly think about it and do your homework. Think about your family as it is right now, and how it will be in the future.
Every family has its own needs, schedule, personality, medical problems, space and time limitations. If you take a good hard look at your family's situation, you can match a dog that will fit into your lives nicely and not just make things more awkward and difficult.
Is anyone in your family allergic to dog hair? Are you bothered by hair on everything from your clothes to your toast? Some breeds are heavy shedders, while others hardly shed at all. Do you have children? Are you going to have children in the next 10-15 years? Do you have friends who visit your home who have children? Are you prepared to learn how to teach your child how to display leadership toward the dog? Do you mind holes being dug in your yard? Some dogs like to dig if they hear something moving underground, while others are less likely to dig.
Do you mind if your dog has a tendency to wander away from home, or would you rather have a dog that would be more likely to stick close to home? Some hunting breeds will roam if they catch a scent of another animal; it is in their nature, while others have a strong instinct to stick close to home.
All dogs, regardless of breed, size or energy level need to be taken on a daily pack walk. Within each and every litter there are pups born with different energy and dominancy levels. You need to choose a dog whose energy level matches or is lower than your own. If your family is not very active, do not choose a pup with a higher energy level. If you are a laid-back family, do not choose a pup with a higher dominancy level. The degree of exercise varies. Some dogs need daily vigorous exercise and you would need to take it out every day for a run and a nice long walk, while others will get enough exercise with a shorter walk and by running around the inside of your house. Some dogs need a job to do or they will become restless, bored, very destructive and unruly. Other dogs will settle for just a short walk. Some can be highly obedience-trained, while others cannot.
Get the point? All dogs are different, and all families are different. Find a dog that fits well into your family, so you and your dog can live in harmony.
While it is important to choose the correct breed for your family’s lifestyle, it is even more important to understand a dog is a canine, not a human, and treat him accordingly. For a clear understanding into a dog’s brain check out our Understanding Dog Behavior section. You will find that any dog can be your worst nightmare or your best investment; it all depends on the owner and their understanding of the canine and their willingness to give the dog what he truly needs.
It's your choice. Do your homework. Research the different kinds of breeds and take a long, hard look at your life and don't forget, that cute little puppy does grow up to be an adult dog. Never adopt a puppy, or adult dog, solely on looks. If you are looking to adopt a dog, don't forget to consider a rescue. There are many great rescue groups and organizations out there who have wonderful homeless dogs just waiting for someone like you to take them home and love them. If you are looking to adopting a rescue dog please read Successfully Adopting a Rescue Dog.
This site is designed to help you do just that. Find the perfect dog.
Dog not right for you? There are many other different types of pets to choose from.
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