So, You Want to Get a Dog?
What kind should I get? Puppy or Adult? Where do I find one? Can I afford one?
Before getting a dog or puppy you need to ask yourself some very important questions. Why do you want a dog? Companionship? Competition? Exercise? Protection? How much time do you have to spend with your dog? Minutes a day? Hours a day? Just weekends? How much time or money do you have to spend on grooming? Long flowing coats are beautiful but need regular brushing. Dogs that don’t drop their coats may need regular trimming or shaving. What temperament am I looking for? Couch potato? Outgoing? Energetic?
What kind of activities do you want to do with your dog? Watching TV? Walking? Hiking? Swimming? Hunting? Obedience? Agility? The American Kennel Club lists more than 175 breeds of dogs, the United Kennel Club lists more than 300, and there are endless combinations of mixed breed dogs. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to do everything from warm their master’s laps, to guard their estates. Obviously if you want a lap warmer you do not want a 150 lb. Dogue de Bordeaux, and if you want a dog to guard your “castle” the average Chinese Crested may not fit the bill.
Is your personality strong enough to train a German Shepard or gentle enough to live with a Japanese Chin? If you are looking for a dog to keep up with a very active lifestyle of jogging or hiking look to the sporting or herding breeds. They were bred to work all day long in most cases, and crave exercise. If you plan on hiking with your Pekinese be prepared to carry him!
The AKC and the UKC have descriptions of all of their registered breeds that include their temperaments. Many breed clubs also give information regarding exercise requirements, temperaments, health issues, guidelines for selecting a breeder etc. These sites are out there for you to use to make an intelligent decision about getting a dog that is going to be your companion and responsibility for 10-20 years. Use them!
What about a mixed breed? It may be a little harder to pinpoint what their size, requirements and temperaments are like. It will be a combination of their parents but what combination may not be clear in a small puppy. Observation is your best tool here. Observe the parents if possible. Observe the puppies in a group, individually and with people if you can. THINK! Don’t pick the puppy that is always getting picked on by his brothers and sisters because you feel sorry for him. When you bring him home to your 1,2 or 3 adult dogs he will likely be terrified. Let someone that has no other pets take that puppy home.
Puppy or Adult?
Do you have the time and energy to train a puppy? This can mean getting up at night to take the puppy out for a few weeks. Obedience classes. Socialization, getting together with other puppy owners for play time. Daily walks and play periods. What is the life span of the puppy? Where are you going to be in five years? Ten years? Fifteen? Many toy breeds can live to be twenty years old. Adults, while likely house broken, have been trained by someone else that may not have your same “house rules”, so there may be some retraining involved. It is not true that you “Can’t teach an old dog a new trick”, however, sometimes it is difficult to “un-train” a bad habit and then re-train a good one. Breeders, humane societies and rescue groups often have both puppies and adults available and several humane societies have “Seniors for Seniors” programs.
Where do you find a Dog or Puppy?
We’ve already touched on this a bit. Breeders, shelters, and rescue groups are outlets for dogs and puppies but BUYER BEWARE! You need to do your homework here. A good breeder, shelter or rescue group will ask more questions of you than you do of them. They want to make sure that yours will be a “forever” home for the dog or puppy that they are placing with you. They will want to know what your previous experience is. What kind of pets have you had, how well did you care for them. They will want permission to contact your veterinarian to see if you provided regular health care for your dogs. They may want to come to your home to see if you have appropriate space for the dog or puppy they are placing with you. Things to be wary of: A breeder, shelter or rescue group that doesn’t care who or where the puppy is going to. Who won’t let you visit their facility to see how their dogs are cared for. It is not unusual for them to not want you to visit or handle very young puppies that may not be fully vaccinated, but they should at least allow you to visit with adult dogs and to see the conditions the puppies are raised in. Will they allow you to bring the puppy back if a health problem is discovered? If you are buying from a breeder have they done all of the appropriate health screens for that breed? Is the puppy or adult up to date on all veterinary care? Vaccinations, worming, exams? If not, you should consider going elsewhere.
Can you afford it?
There is no such thing as a free puppy!!! Food, housing, veterinary care, grooming and licensing all cost money. Not to mention toys, leashes, collars, treats, and training. Do you have to have a fence installed to keep your puppy safe? Have you looked into how much dog food will cost for your dog when full grown? The Great Dane puppy that eats 1 ½ cups of kibble today may require 8 cups when full grown. Can your grocery budget handle the increase for the life of your dog? Even short coated breeds need their nails trimmed, ears and teeth cleaned. Can you do it yourself or will you need to pay a groomer or vet? Maybe you will be lucky enough to get a puppy that lives a long healthy life with no need for emergency medical care or lifesaving surgery. However, routine care, vaccines, blood, urine, fecal screens, supplements, and preventative medications to keep your pet healthy all cost money. Experts estimate that the first year expenses of dog ownership may range from $500-$2000 for a medium size healthy pet. If your dog does need emergency medical care or surgery are you prepared to pay for it? A single trip to the emergency hospital may result in a several thousand dollar bill. The questions and answers posed here are not all inclusive but are intended to help you with your thought process as you add a new life to your life. We at the Webster Veterinary Clinic all love dogs and we want your experience with your furry family members to be a happy one.
Ready to schedule an appointment?
Bringing home a new dog is a large commitment of time and financial resources. It can also be a very rewarding experience! Please be sure to do your research before selecting your new pet so that you will both have a happy and lasting relationship. When you are ready, we would love to meet you and your new four-legged family member. Please call our office to schedule an appointment! 585-872-6467
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