Commitment and responsibility. Getting a dog is a big commitment. It is a reasonability that can last up to 15 years. At times it requires getting in the middle of the night, frequent visits to the veterinarian, or loss of a favorite item because it turned into a chew toy. A pet also carries a financial commitment; food, toys, grooming and medical care are all needed and costly. Lastly, your biggest change will involve your time. Plan your daily walks, periods for play and time for training.
Questions. If you are still thinking about that dog, start asking yourself a few questions:
Do you want an adult dog or a puppy?
A male or a female?
A large or a small dog?
Where will I get it from?
What veterinarian will I take it to?
Adult dogs usually know the basics of living. On the downside, the dog may come with emotional baggage. Adult dogs have set personalities so the potential owner should be sure that he or she “clicks” with the new pet. Spending time with the dog before committing to it may give you some idea of its personality.
Puppy? On the other hand, puppies are very cute, but they are a lot more work. House breaking and general etiquette require a lot of time, and cleaning up after an accident is no fun. When choosing a puppy, one that is even-keeled is recommended. You do not want the most hyper pup in the litter, nor do you want the listless one who is afraid of its own shadow.
Gender is another important consideration. Male dogs are more likely to roam and fight with other dogs. Females are at risk of pregnancy. Whichever gender you chose, remember that neutering should be considered at 6 months of age.
Breed. Researching breeds is also important prior to purchase. Make sure that your selected breed is compatible with your lifestyle. Each breed has unique personality traits, idiosyncrasies and health profiles. As a result of inbreeding, purebred dogs become weak in their emotional and physical characteristics. Make sure the dog comes from a reputable breeder. Mixed-breed dogs are less subject to behavioral extremis and some of the medical issues seen in purebreds.
Where will I get it from? There are several different places to get a dog from. The shelter is a good place to start. There are also many breed specific rescues, if you have a breed in mind. Here, the adoption fee is minimal and you will be saving a dogs life.
Purebred dogs can also be obtained from the breeder directly. After finding a breeder, visit the kennel, see the canine parents and ask questions. A good breeder will be open to questions and discuss high points as well as problems or the specific bread. A reputable breeder should be able to provide you with references. Be willing to act as a reference yourself, so that you can share your experience with that breeder to other prospective clients.
Pet shop dogs. Lastly, dogs can be bought from a pet shop. Those dogs are usually purebred or a designer mixes such a Labradoodle or a Puggle. Regretfully, many of those pups originate from mass producing puppy breeders and are often unhealthy and genetically unsound.
Think about your decision. An inspection or the dog is necessary, no matter where you get the dog from. Check the skin, monitor for sneezing or coughing, check his eyes and nose for discharge. Also, ask if the dog has any medical problems, treatments or vaccine? Avoid impulsive buying. Instead, interact with the dog, leave, think about your decision… and then go back if the dog is right for you.
Veterinary care. When thinking about getting a dog, also think about the veterinarian you will use. Maybe you have a good experience with your previous vet, maybe your friends can recommend you one, or you can visit an animal hospital near you – to check if that is the one. A thorough exam is always needed for a new pet. Your veterinarians’ office is also a good resource for the many questions that can arise when you get a new pet.
Another member of your family. Remember, when you get a dog, you are adding another member to your family. Carefully consideration and research is needed for a commitment as great as this.