All Things Dog

Top 10 things to ponder about puppy

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The puppy you choose now will become an integral part of your family for the next 10 years, or longer. That means you’ve got a lot of fun times ahead. It also means that some careful thought at this stage will help you make the best possible choice for your long time companion. Here are the top 10 things you should consider when choosing a puppy: Do you really want a puppy, or could you give an adult dog a home? Most people would prefer to raise and train their dog from an early age, but don't dismiss adult dogs. They are still capable of giving you tremendous loyalty and affection. There are some advantages: they are usually already housebroken, trained, their adult temperament is known, and they will have passed through that most destructive of phases—puppyhood. How much time can you devote to the new puppy? Dogs are social animals. They need a lot of attention, especially when young. You must be able to set aside sufficient time for training, exercise and grooming. Housebreaking puppies, in particular, will be difficult if you are not around during this critical period. How much space do you have? The size of your house and yard and, more importantly, the availability of open spaces nearby for exercise, will influence the size, breed and type of dog you should choose. A Newfoundland would feel cramped in a small apartment, and a Greyhound, which needs to stretch its legs, may not be happy in the middle of town. How much exercise can you and your family give your dog? Are you physically able to give your dog the exercise he needs? Some breeds need more exercise than others. For example, a German Shepherd probably won’t be as happy living with an elderly couple that’s slowing down, as with a physically active family. How much can you afford? Take into account the initial cost of your puppy, but factor in that other costs will continue for the rest of his life. The daily costs of feeding a small dog are obviously going to be less than those for a giant breed. And don't forget that you also need to budget for veterinary fees (for routine and unexpected visits), boarding during vacations, and regular professional grooming for certain breeds. How much experience with dogs do you have? It’s probably not a good idea for first-time dog owners to choose breeds that are difficult to train or that may find it easy to intimidate their human companions. Why do you want a dog? Most people choose to keep a dog for companionship, but your choice of breed may be influenced by whether he is also expected to have a protective or working role and your intention to show or breed your dog. What type of dog? Familiarize yourself with different dog breeds by visiting dog shows, talking to breeders and other dog owners, and by reading books and magazines relating to the dog world. A purebred dog or a mixed breed? Although each individual dog has its own character, some generalizations can be made about each breed that can give you some idea of how the puppy will grow as an adult. A crossbred or mongrel puppy can be very appealing, and can have many good traits, but its adult size and temperament may be difficult to predict, especially if you cannot see the parents. A large dog or a small dog? Remember that large dogs generally need more living space and regular exercise, and will cost more to feed. Long or short hair? Long-haired dogs can be very attractive, but they need regular grooming to keep their coat clean and in good condition. Some of these dogs may need to be clipped in summer. Smooth-haired dogs need less attention and are cleaner in wet weather. Male or female? Male dogs tend to be larger than females of the same breed and may be a little more dominant and extroverted , especially if not neutered. Some owners think that females are more affectionate and home-loving and may be better with children. However, an intactfemale will come "into heat" twice a year as part of her reproductive cycle, and if you don’t have her spayed, this could be an inconvenience for you. What to look for? You should ask to see the puppy with its mother; this way you can see how well the female has cared for her puppies, and you will have some idea of the size and temperament of her puppies once they mature. Ask if it is possible to see the father as well. Sometimes this can be arranged. Choose a puppy that is active and looks healthy and clean. There should be no discharge from the eyes or nose, the ears should be clean, and the gums should be a healthy pink color. Look for telltale signs of diarrhea under the tail and on the back legs. The puppy coat may be a little dull, but it should be clean and there should be no areas of irritation. Look for any deformities, and check the abdomen for any abnormal swelling such as an umbilical hernia. If in doubt, ask that the puppy be examined by your veterinarian before purchasing. Don't buy a weak puppy because you feel sorry for it--you may find yourself with long-term problems and mounting veterinary bills. Although puppies may be a little wary of strangers at first, it is best to avoid a puppy that is nervous and cowers in the corner. The behavior of the mother may be an indicator of how her puppies will behave as adults, so be wary if the mother is of a shy, nervous or aggressive disposition. Where to find your puppy? Having chosen your ideal type of dog, where should you go to find him? The best place to get a purebred puppy is from a recognized and reputable breeder. You may find breeders through other dog owners, your veterinarian, advertisements in newspapers and dog magazines, or by visiting dog shows. Don't buy from a dealer who brings in puppies from several sources. These puppies may have been weaned too early and may have traveled long distances in a state of fear and confusion before reaching their destination. The risk of disease and stress-induced illness is greater for these puppies. Animal shelters are another source of pets.

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