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Archive for Sunday, November 20, 2005

How to choose a pet dog

November 20, 2005

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So if you're looking for a new dog , how do you go about making the selection?

I'm going to give you the same advice I give dozens of other people who ask me or other veterinarians for help in choosing a pet each year. Don't start by looking at puppies, as you will likely bond to one of the very first ones you see, which may or may not be the best choice for you. Pick with your brain first, then your heart. Establish criteria before you start looking.

Criteria may include size, energy level, exercise requirements, ease of training, ability to socialize, longevity, amount of shedding, does it need groomed, projected health risks, insurance issues, local animal control regulations, etc.

Do you want a lap dog that runs laps around the local high school track with you for exercise? Or do you want a lap dog that rests in a contented crescent of fur on your legs like a furry hot water bottle as you watch TV? A mismatch of activity expectations is the root cause of many pet behavior and owner discontent issues. Think about your lifestyle and needs and how this will match the activity needs of the dog.

Ask your veterinarian for recommendations of breeds and breeders. Google. Visit dog shows and local dog parks and watch various breeds at work and play. Talk to people who own those breeds. And don't forget your local animal shelter, my favorite place to look for love. Why?

Because at your local shelter you can find a Heinz 57, canine cocktail, or exotic designer mutt (people are now paying a fortune for Labradoodles, dachhuahuas, dorgis, etc., whereas you can get one at the shelter for a pittance) that has hybrid vigor, is past the puppy-problem stage of housetraining and chewing, and probably has been temperament-tested.

You get a great used model mutt, and you're giving a loving home to a living being, sadly one of the 6 million dogs and cats that face euthanasia every year.

For more information about purebred dogs go to www.akc.org/breeds/complete_breed_list.cfm or www.petfinder.com.

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