Do you really want a dog?

Thinking of getting a dog? You’re in good company – dogs have been sharing homes with humans for thousands of years.

By Laura Pakis, Certified Dog Trainer and Blogger,

The first step

The first step to becoming a dog owner is making the commitment to care for an animal. You’ll be responsible for food, shelter, grooming, and medical care for 10 to 15 years. You’ll also need to determine what kind of dog is the best match for you and your family. Are there youngsters at home? You should consider a medium – to large-sized dog over 5 months old. Toy-sized dogs under 15 pounds do not hold up well to rough, clumsy handling.  In addition, children under 7 are usually not developmentally suited for younger puppies, who have sharp teeth and nails that can easily injure a child.

Questions to ask

Will your lifestyle mesh with your dog?

Various breeds and mixes of breeds have different requirements: hounds, terriers, and sporting and herding dogs, in general, need more training and exercise, so these animal companions are perfect if you’re the active type.

Do you plan to spoil your pet?

If so, avoid working breeds such as Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiller, Doberman Pinchers, or German Shepherds.  Rather consider a toy-sized dog bred specifically to be a pampered companion, such as a Cavalier Spaniel.

Do you want a purebred dog?

If your heart is set on a purebred, find out as much as you can before you bring one home. Congenital problems are more common in purebreds, some of which are born with a predisposition to hip dysplasia, glaucoma, heart disease, and skin disorders – to name just a few. These are most often seen in dogs from pet shops or puppy mills. To avoid the heartbreak of a chronically ill pet, go straight to a responsible breeder or breed rescue group.

Where to find a dog

You would be surprised at the number of purebreds that are turned in to shelters – simply because the former owner didn’t consider the costs of bringing his Shih Tzu to the groomer every month, or didn’t know what to do when he’s bored retriever began chewing the apartment to bits.

The hands-down best place to get a dog is your local humane society. Shelters are full of great dogs, of differing personalities, in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Most animals there have been screened for major health and behavioral problems. Many shelters include training materials, vaccinations, and spay/neuter surgery with the adoption of a dog. Plus, you’ll have that warm glow from knowing you’ve given an animal a second chance at a good home!

about the author

Laura Pakis, owner and founder of Acme Canine, has been a professional dog trainer for numerous years and a boarding/daycare facility owner for 13 years. A member of the Dog Writer’s Association, Blog Paws, Women in the Pet Industry, and the International Association of Canine Professionals, Laura share her canine knowledge through a variety of social media.

Laura feels responsible ownership is an important part of having a dog and guides her blog, Spike’s Dog Blog by Acme Canine, toward providing dog owners with not only training knowledge but also care and understanding of dogs.

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