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Choosing The Right Dog For Your Family

So, you are thinking about bring a dog into your family. That's wonderful. Dogís have been sharing their lives with people for a long time. Today, there are so many breeds of dog to choose from, one can get very confused about which one to consider. The American Kennel Club lists over 150 Breeds of Dogs that are divided into Seven Groups. Add to the mix the numbers and varieties of mixed breed dogs or your All-American Mutts and the task of choosing a dog can be daunting, to say the least.

Consider this. The dog you choose to bring into your family can live anywhere from 9 years to 15 years. That makes choosing a dog a very important, long term commitment, not to be taken lightly. Before you make your final decision to get a dog, please take the time to read Responsible Pet Ownership, and be sure you are ready to accept the responsibility of all of the items that are listed. If there is even ONE item that you are not ready to commit to, please reconsider and maybe get a cat or bird or a smaller animal that wonít require such a BIG commitment on your part. Once youíve decided that you will be a responsible dog owner, the next important task will be to decide what kind of dog to get.

Let me start by saying that the sex of the dog should be of little importance unless you are a breeder who is planning on raising puppies. If you are not a breeder, you will be neutering or spaying your dog so it wonít matter if its a male or female. All you really want is a wonderful pet.

Believe it or not, Breed of Dog is not the next thing you have to decide on. There are many things you will need to take into consideration before you even get to the breed part. Iíve listed many questions that you need to ask yourself and your family, to help you narrow the field a little and help you choose the best dog for you. You never want to go into a pet shop or animal shelter to pick out a puppy. They all are so cute that you will probably want to take everyone of them home with you. That is not a good way to pick a puppy or a dog. PUPPY LOVE only lasts until the newness wears off and reality lifts its furry head.

That said, are you ready to begin making a very informed choice about your new family member? If so, lets get started.

There are three main topics that you need to look at. They are: Lifestyle, Dog Traits and Appearance and Grooming.
Letís start with your lifestyle

First, how many hours are you or someone in the family at home? If you work, do you travel? How often? Will you have to board the dog when you are gone? These are important things to consider. You donít want to get the dog home and then realize that you have such a busy schedule that you will hardly be home to care for your dog. You will need to consider whether you will kennel the dog or maybe get a neighbor to come in and check on the dog or maybe hire a pet sitter or dog walker to help you out.

Next, consider how you spend your leisure time. What are you leisure activities? Will you include your dog in these activities? Do you entertain much? Will your dog be part of the party or will he be crated during those times? You want to make sure that you pick a dog that will fit into your leisure plans. For instance, if you are avid boaters, you might want to consider a dog that enjoys water. If you entertain a lot, you would want a dog that enjoys being around people. Do you travel much? Will you take your dog with you or kennel him?

How about experience. Have you ever owned a dog before? If not, you might want to get a good book to read about raising a dog BEFORE you bring the dog home. My favorite one is Puppies For Dummies from the Dummies series. There are many good books on the market that tell you how to raise a puppy successfully. Do your homework.

What about other pets. Do you have birds? Cats? Any other animals? You want to consider them in the mix also. You probably wouldnít want to get a dog with a high prey drive if you have a cat. You also might not want a bird dog if you have a bird. Then, of course, you have to consider how you would introduce a dog into a household with other animals. You can check out Multi-Pet Families to get some ideas about how to make safe introductions.

The list seems endless, doesnít it? Well, there are a lot of things to think about before you make such a big commitment.

Lets talk about training and socializing. When you get your dog, are you willing to invest the time and money to train him properly? Will you take him to obedience classes or train him yourself? Will you socialize him properly? You canít just bring him home and expect him to train and socialize himself, although many people think thatĎs what you do. It doesnít work that way. You begin training the minute to take possession of your new dog. You should have a plan ready so you begin teaching him the right stuff from day one. That Puppy book you are supposed to read is full of training information and you also have all the information you need on my website as well as my Online Training Lessons.

Before I forget, we have to consider your living arrangements. Do you live in a house, apartment or condo. Also, do you have a fenced yard? Is your yard big or small? Will your dog be a house dog or a yard dog? These questions will help you determine size, energy level and how easy it will be for the dog to access the outside for exercise. If you live in an apartment or condo, you better plan on many trips outside with your dog during the day - at the least, morning, noon, evening and before bed and lots of long walks for exercise.
Moving Right Along to Dog Traits

Will you have time for training? How much? What about exercise? Some dogs need lots of exercise to keep them happy and healthy and out of trouble. Are you willing to walk your dog for 30 minutes, at least twice a day? If youíre a couch potato, you should be sure to get a breed of dog that matches your energy level. On the other hand, if you run every day and want your dog to run with you, be sure to get a dog with lots of energy to match yours.

Do you want your dog to be a family member, a watchdog, a working or sporting dog, or a dog for competition. This is an important thing to consider. Some breeds of dogs make better watchdogs than others. If you want to compete with your dog in tracking, obedience, agility or herding you need to consider getting a pure bred dog. Know how you want him to interact with the people in your life. Do you want him to be friendly, aloof, tolerant? Do you want him to be calm, on guard, indifferent or reserved with your guests? Do you want him to be protective or accepting around strangers? All of this has to be taken into consideration before you decide on the dog for you, not after you already have him.

Do you want a dog that loves affection? Do you want him to be active or quiet? How about a dog that is eager to please, independent or strong willed?
Appearance and Grooming

You might wonder why looks are important. Well, the type, length, thickness, and texture of your dogs coat will determine how much grooming he will need. There are breeds that require hours of grooming all the way down to breeds that need no more than a quick rub down with a towel.

How much time and money will you have to spend on grooming ? If you donít enjoy brushing a dog or paying for hair cuts, youíll want to get a dog with short hair. Something to consider.

Do you want a dog that sheds a lot or a little or none at all? How about the dog's coat. Do you want long hair, short hair, wired hair, thick, feathery, curly? Does it matter or doesnít it matter. Be sure to decide ahead of time.

How about the size of the dog. Do you want extra large, large, medium, small or tiny. Where you live and what you want from your dog will have a lot to do with answering this question. There are sizes from monster for guarding to mini for lap sitting.
Other Things To Consider

That brings us to barking. Do you want a quiet dog, one who barks a warning when strangers approach, one who barks when you play interactively with him.

If you are considering getting a pure breed dog, the above questions along with studying the breed standards from the AKC will help you select the right dog for your family. The American Kennel Club has all of the breed standards on its website. You can check out any of the breeds to see if they measure up to your qualifications. CLICK HERE to see an alphabetical list of more than 150 dog breeds recognized by the AKC. From there you can click on any breed you might be interested in and find out how he measures up to your needs. You can also CLICK HERE to see how the AKC groups dog breeds with common traits together. There are seven groups of dogs to choose from, including the working dogs, herding dogs, sporting dogs, non-sporting dogs, terriers, toys, hounds and miscellaneous dogs.

If you plan on getting a mixed breed dog or adopting one from an animal shelter, your job will be a little more difficult, since you might not know what the dogís ancestry is. You will, however, be able to tell something about size and coat type and when you meet the dog you will have some idea about itĎs energy level. Most shelter or rescue group will have some history on the dog to help you know what you are getting.

Last but not least, you want to be sure to consider how much you want to spend on a dog or puppy. Whether you want a pure breed or a rescue dog. Whether you want to get an older dog or a puppy. These answers are more a matter of choice.

If you do your homework ahead of time you will greatly improve your chances of getting the dog of your dreams, instead of a cute, fuzzy nightmare.

Do yourself a favor, donít fall into PUPPY LOVE. It doesnít last.

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