Choosing the Right Pet

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There is a reason why they say dogs are man’s best friend; nothing beats coming home to a wagging tail and friendly face. Prior to dog ownership, however, it is important to understand the responsibilities that coincide with being a canine owner. The average lifespan for dogs is between 8 and 16 years. Before choosing a breed of dog, it is important to recognize: the affect a dog’s size will have on your personal space; how much attention a dog requires; costs associated with owning a dog, including food, grooming and veterinary care, and the potential that residents within the home may be allergic to dogs.

 Supplies a new dog owner will need 
  • Leash and collar with ID tags
  • Dog bed. 
  • Dog brush or comb
  • Food and water bowls
  • Pet urine cleaner. 
  • Sturdy and safe toys. 
  • Training crate. 

Selecting the right breed

When selecting your new dog, its breed will play a large role in the dog’s temperament and needs. The following AKC groups give information about each classification:

  • Herding Group – are often used on farms for herding sheep. For the average pet owners these dogs are very easy to train but will often herd people or children if other animals are not present. They are very smart and make great family dogs but require regular exercise or may get into trouble.
  • Hound Group –skilled at hunting because of their remarkable scenting ability. Have great stamina and can run long distances. Some breeds “bay” and potential owners should consider the baying noise prior to purchasing one of these dogs.
  • Sporting Group – instinctively active and highly alert. Skilled at finding game in water, woods, or brush. Ideal for hunting. Require regular, high-energy exercise.
  • Terrier Group – have a large amount of energy and can be very opinionated. Were originally bred to hunt and kill rodents. Require a strong-willed owner to properly train them.
  • Toy Group – small and are perfect for families living in tight spaces. Some breeds can be aggressive and intimidating towards a potential threat. Much easier to control than large dogs.
  • Working Group – generally used for pulling sleds, executing water rescue, or guarding an owner’s property. Highly intelligent and are fast-learners. Most are large to very large in size which should be taken into consideration by potential owners.

Common dog behaviors

A dog’s temperament is genetic; dogs have a fixed personality based on their breeding. Because of this, it is very important to fully understand a breed before purchasing a particular puppy. With training, a dog’s temperament can be altered, but they will still be inclined to revert back to their innate disposition. When purchasing an older dog or adopting one from a shelter, consider the dog’s behavioral characteristics and be sure they coincide with what you can handle.

Dogs communicate similarly and have several gestures that have very specific meaning:

  • Barking – dogs bark to alarm an owner of a present threat or to scare away the menace. A dog may also bark when they are scared or angry. Anxious or excited barking is not uncommon as well.
  • Biting – biting, like barking, is a form of communicating with a human. Dogs bite when they are nervous, scared, or angry.
  • Chewing – it is normal for puppies to chew through anything and everything. Dogs chew as a normal behavior, and puppies also chew to relieve the pain of incoming adult teeth.
  • Digging – many dogs dig to hide food. On occasion, they will be uncovering hidden food, usually small game such as rodents or rabbits. A dog may also dig to uncover a cool surface of dirt on which they want to lay.
  • Jumping – when a dog jumps up on a human, it’s an attempt to elicit attention or in some cases proclaim their dominance. Discouraging this behavior must start when they are young.
  • Panting – dogs sweat very differently than humans. Heat is released through their feet and by panting; panting also helps a hot dog regulate their body temperature.

As with any pet, prior research and understanding of a pet’s needs help ensure a happy life together.