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Choosing a dog

Dogsindepth: The Online Dog EncyclopediaChoosing a Dog for Your Lifestyle

So you are considering getting a dog.
Choosing a dog is a big decision. This guide to Choosing a Dog for Your Lifestyle offers you all the information you need to make the best decision when choosing a dog.

Did you know it's not just choosing a dog, it’s adding a new being into your life? Depending upon the age of a dog, their needs are similar to that of a new baby, a spouse or an elderly person. A dog needs food, shelter, exercise, grooming, health care and companionship. Some dogs need less, some dogs need more, but each and every dog requires at least these things from you. A dog is a commitment in time and money. A dog is a long-term permanent responsibility.

There are enough folks who go out of their way to bring suffering to a dog. You may have good intentions for getting a dog, but be sure you are not buying on a whim, that you are quite ready, meaning that should you ever need to undergo a change of living space, or get married and have children, you will be able to keep your dog with you. Surprisingly, one of the top 10 reasons why dogs and puppies are surrendered to shelters each year is due to "lifestyle change".

Most dogs and puppies that end up in pounds or kill shelters are euthanized. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 8-10 million dogs and puppies are euthanized each year at the cost to the taxpayers of $2 billion dollars per year.

Consider what will happen if you do give your dog or puppy up.

If you can no longer keep your dog, try to find a loving person or family or select a rescue organization or a no kill shelter first. If you must surrender your dog or puppy to a shelter, try not do do it during a holiday. Shelters and pounds are usually packed to capacity during these times and more than likely your dog or puppy will be euthanized before it has any chance of being adopted.

When surrendering a dog, should it have health problems, disclose the information. If it is a contractible illness don't jeopardize the health of the other dogs and puppies in the facility. Don't cause your dog or puppy added suffering by denying them their medication. It will also give a potential adopter the information they need to better care for your former dog or puppy.

Here is a brief overview of what owning a dog would require.
First consider why you might want a dog.
as a family pet
as an active companion
for sport - hunting, retrieving, obedience trials
for protection
for police work or rescue
for assistance
for show competitions

Consider whether you are home enough to prevent your dog from being lonely. Dogs are social creatures and enjoy company. Depending on the breed, you might consider having two dogs so they can keep each other company if you are away from home for long hours.

Consider whether you are or are not active. Will determine your choosing a dog with a laid back demeanor or a very active one.

Consider who else might be affected. Take into consideration when choosing a dog the other family members, family members yet to come, family members with allergies, other pets, your landlord, neighbors or others if you live in an apartment building that may be affected.

Consider the financial costs of owning a dog.
Price to purchase
Dog food
Healthcare – shots, spay, neuter, medications (including flea, tick, wormer) - dogs suffer from many of the same illnesses as humans: cancers, blindness, heart disease, cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, deafness
Equipment – dog food and water bowls, dog bedding, dog collars, leash, licensing, ID tags, dog toys, clothes
Grooming – hair and tooth brushes, combs, dog nail clippers, shampoos, toothpaste, dog skin and ear care products
Medical procedures - extended veterinary costs

Consider the commitment of time.
Regular affection - a dog will need and demand it of you
Feeding - a dog needs food and fresh water every day
Exercising - some dog breeds require high levels of exercise
Grooming - some dogs require hours of grooming to maintain cleanliness
Training - some dogs or puppies require more patience to train
Administering medications if needed

Consider how you might obtain a dog.
Wherever, inspect the premises for cleanliness. If you cannot travel to the location of the litter and inspect the premises, ask for references and contact them regarding the dog breeder or rescue organization.

•rescues – some folks think only bad dogs are given up, but that is not the case. There are many wonderful dogs waiting in shelters - with or without pedigrees - simply because they acted like their breed or in a manner their owner didn’t expect, or because there was a lifestyle change - the family had to move, there was a breakup, a downsize of living space, a family member developed an allergy, a new baby has taken up their time, or their owner has become ill or disabled.

•shelters/pound - these dogs and pups are in most need of adoption since they are on death row. Try to find out all you can about the dog or puppy, there might be health or vet records available. Do not adopt simply on the word of the shelter staff. Bring as many family members down to the shelter/pound and vigorously interact with the dog to gauge its level of sociability.

•a small kennel / hobby breeder - that has few litters per year and offers only one or two breeds, exerts the effort to hold and socialize the pups and breeds and screens to prevent such illnesses as: cancers, blindness, heart disease, cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and deafness. Ask how long they have been breeding a particular breed. Ask them what happens if you cannot keep the puppy or dog. Will they take it back? A good way to find a reputable breeder is to get a referral from a rescue organization recommended by a national kennel club.
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