SO YOU WANT TO GET A DOG?
Are You Sure That You Want a New Dog?
I hear it all of the time, even when I'm not listening (so that is technically evesdropping). People ask one another, post questions on line, ask their friends, and when all else fails, sometimes when the decision is already made and it is too late to change, they ask me. They want to know what type of dog they should get. Now I think that these people have skipped the most important question. Before they ask what type of dog they want they should really be examining whether they are ready for any type of dog. Bringing a new puppy into a home is a decision that can impact the lives of all involved for many years to come. Who is going to feed, walk, and train the puppy. Are you ready for crate training, obedience training, and regular exercise. Many breeds require regular grooming. When we bought Bella home, we had to take into account that we were going to need to modify some of our plans. I'm in the somewhat unique situation that I can bring her to work every day but we still need to come home early sometimes to let her out or delay something or other because she hadn't had her play time yet and wasn't ready to settle down. While an adult dog may be a little less demanding than a puppy, they still require a fair amount of time and energy, but that is why we get a dog anyway isn't it? We want to spend time with them. So, before you take the plunge, make sure you are ready for a new family member. Here are some questions you really need to answer before you make up your mind.
Puppy or Adult?
If you have gotten this far on the web page, you probably already have decided that you want a new pet. Hopefully you aren't here during a middle of the night web surfing session because you picked up a dog on your last trip to the mall. It would show a much greater degree of thought and control if you were still in the fact finding stage of the decision making process. The first thing you need to consider is do you want a puppy (everyone loves a puppy. I mean they are soooo cute), or would a more mature dog better suite your situation. Puppies give you the opportunity to shape a new canine life, watch the bundle of fluff grow into a full grown dog and become a member of the family. Of course, this involves house training, obedience training, and at least some potential damage to furniture and belongings. No one ever thinks that the adorable little spaniel pup will keep you up all night crying for the first week. So maybe an adult. Of course, they can bring baggage of their own although you may catch a break and your new dog may have some degree of training under the collar. Adult dogs also have the advantage of letting you know how big they will be and they give you a better idea of what their personality is.
Energy (and we are not talking solar vs wind)
Different breeds, and different individuals within a breed, have different energy levels. With that goes different requirements for exercise. Many of you may have known my Shih Tzu, Cookie. Although she did have periods of extreme activity, visualize a mass of black and white running around a coffee table at the speed of light, most of the time she was content to sit on a lap or go for a long, leisurely walk on a leash. Bella our current puppy, seen above in a rare moment of calm. She is a terrier mix so not only does she need more exercise than Cookie ever did, she has a tendency to work at her toys until they are strewn about the house in pieces. Moving up the scale, some of the hunting dogs, like hounds and retrievers require a lot of exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. So, look into the breed you are interested in and decide how much time, energy, and inclination you have to devote to exercise and active play.
There are lap dogs and there are guard dogs and there is everything in between. If you are looking for the former, make sure that you don't get the latter, you will not be happy. You can gain some insight from reading about different breeds, a little research will go a long way. You should think about the original purpose that a particular dog was bred for. Some of those little cuties are really monster protection beasts in their adult form. You also need to take into consideration if you will have children around the house. Also, take into consideration the energy level of your home. Try to match your lifestyle with a breed that will be happy. I shudder when I think of a Tea Cup Yorkie in a home with three teenage boys and their respective friends. Maybe a beagle would be a better choice here.
Will it Shed?
The quick answer is probably. Most breeds do, at least a little. Some like the Golden Retriever, or German Shepherds, seem to shed an entire dog every day. Heavy coated breeds will need to be brushed several times a week. On the other hand, some short coated breeds like pugs can get by with a quick brushing and an occasional bath. Others will require regular trips to the groomer to keep their coats in tip top shape. One side note, there is no such thing as a non allergic dog. They all cause symptoms in individuals that have allergies, so be aware.
Although energy levels are probably more important when considering if a particular dog is suitable for your housing situation, I do cringe when I see some of the giant breeds walking the streets in Manhattan. I mean, the thought of some of a Great Dane or a Mastiff in a NYC apartment boggle my mind. Now some of them are true couch potatoes and probably do better in the city than say a Jack Russel Terrier, I still can't imagine squeezing one of larger breeds into a one bedroom walk up in the village, yet I know that people do.l
So although I didn't really give you any information on specific breeds, I hope I gave you something to think about. Next post will be about the very touchy topic of whether you should buy or adopt. Once again, I don't know that I will answer all of your questions but I am sure that it will stimulate some lively discussions on our facebook page. You can go there to leave comments about this posting and any other posting as they become available. My only request is that they be positive and constructive. Malicious comments will be deleted and the poster will be blocked. Really, please, no personal attacks.