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Before you get a dog ….

Being a dog owner is an amazing and rewarding experience, but acquiring a family dog is a decision that should not be taken lightly and adequate research should be done before opting to become a dog owner. Your dog deserves a loving, stress free home and environment so very careful consideration must be given before deciding to get a dog and in particular when choosing what type of dog you would like. Dog shelters are full of dogs surrendered by owners who failed to consider all aspects of dog ownership before acquiring a furry friend. So with that in mind here are some of the more important things to consider.

Why do you want a dog ?

A dog is not a toy that can be put back in the cupboard when you have become bored with it. Owning a dog represents a commitment for many years and also signifies a considerable ongoing financial obligation. Food, vets bills, training fees, grooming etc. are just a few of the more obvious costs involved in owning a dog and is something that needs to be factored into the decision to get a dog.

Considering what you are looking for in a dog will help with deciding on what type of dog you should choose. Simply liking the look of the dog is likely to result in you getting a lovable dog that is just not suited to or right for you.

What type/breed of dog should you get ?

Dogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes and not all breeds have the same temperament or character.

It is extremely important for you to determine what your aspirations are for your dog when selecting what type or breed you should go for. If you are looking for a companion to go jogging or hiking with you then a Yorkie may not be the most suitable dog for this activity. Likewise if you want a small “cuddle bug” to curl up on your lap while you watch TV, then a Great Dane cross Boerboel may not be the wisest choice.

Dogs with long coats require far more grooming than short haired dogs and their up-keep can be considerably more expensive.

It is also very important to understand the daily physical and mental stimulation requirements of the type/breed of dog you are considering and whether you are able to provide those essentials. Many of the unwanted behaviours displayed by family pets are due to boredom and insufficient stimulation.

Male or female?

Deciding on whether to have a male or female is also a factor to consider. Broadly and generally speaking males are more dominant and self-confident while females can be more affectionate and home-loving. Irrespective of what gender you opt for, the most important factor is to have the dog sterilised.

Puppy vs adult dog.

This consideration is very much a personal choice and should be based on the family environment. Small children and puppies together can be quite a challenge requiring much more supervision than would possibly be needed with an adult dog.

Although house training may be necessary for both puppies and adult dogs, the task is often far less arduous with an adult dog.

On the flip side, a puppy may not yet have picked up to many unwanted behaviours and can be taught from the start to fit in with your family and routine.

Location/Setting

Where you live can also have an impact on what dog you should be considering. Some dogs are more suited to living in small gardens where others need more space to run around and display their natural instincts. Having said that if you are prepared to diligently give your dog the daily exercise and stimulation required by that particular breed, then property size is not such a criteria – it’s really all about taking care of your dog’s activity needs !

There are numerous criteria to consider when deciding to bring a dog into your home and these are just a few of the more important factors that need some deliberation. Remember when making that final decision, it’s a commitment and a promise to the dog for his entire lifetime and not just a flavour of the month responsibility.

Don’t forget to always follow the “adopt don’t shop” rule. 🙂

By Gordon, Trainer