Are you thinking of getting a dog? Choosing to bring a new dog into your life is a major decision and it should be treated as such. Bringing a dog into a
family should never be a snap decision and being sure you are ready for a dog
before you start the process is important. Is everyone in the family ready? Are
the kids old enough to be gentle, take on some responsibility for care and
feeding a dog? Call a family meeting and discuss it.


If you have decided that it is the right time, Congratulations!


Now, it is time to figure out what type of dog is right for you. There are several factors to consider before choosing a dog. Most importantly, examine your current lifestyle and consider what adjustments you
are willing to make for a dog. Look at the needs of your family – especially if
you have children or other pets. Think about the ideal size, energy level and
age of your new dog. Then, determine where to get your new dog. Just remember
that getting a dog requires a firm commitment to responsible dog ownership.

Here are some tips to help you choose the best dog for you and your family.

What Size Dog?

You may think that you always wanted a little lap dog that you can carry
around. But if you have an active lifestyle and an active family, that might
not be the best choice. If you live in the city in a small apartment, however,
this might be an excellent choice.

Remember that small dogs tend to be more delicate and vulnerable. Being stepped on or mishandled can cause serious injury. Small children and small dogs sometimes do not mix. Also, little dogs can be much
more sensitive to colder temperatures, so be ready to help keep them warm.
Don’t forget that small dogs will need obedience training, too! Some little
dogs can develop “tough dog” attitudes, seeming to compensate for their small
size by barking or biting. Be sure you are prepared for this possibility.

You might have your heart set on a large or giant dog breed but keep in mind that a large dog may need more exercise and more room to run and very large dogs need a bit more space to just move around. Big, happy dogs
with long, whip-like tails need "wagging space" to avoid tail injury
or damage to household objects. Another consideration is expense: the larger
the dog, the more expensive things like dog food, dog supplies, grooming and
medical treatments become. Training is also a key factor here. If you get a
large or giant breed puppy that is allowed to act like a lap dog when young, he
will grow up to walk all over you – literally!

If you cannot decide, then perhaps a medium sized dog is a good choice. But
what ever your choice, you might spend some time at a dog park, shelter or
other place where there are a lot of dogs and talk to other’s and meet
different sized dogs. Let the kids come, too. This might be a great way to see
how the children will interact with dogs. You might be surprised that what you
thought you wanted was different.

Activity Level

You probably already know that some dogs have more energy than others. A dog’s
activity level is often determined by breed, but it does not mean you can rely
on breed alone to determine how energetic your dog could become. Every dog
needs routine exercise, regardless of breed or size, so make sure you can to
provide this. If you know you can not commit to more than one or two casual
walks per day, then you will probably be better off with a lower energy dog,
such as a Basset Hound. If you are looking for a dog that can be a jogging
partner, you might consider a breed like a Lab or Border Collie.

Be willing to adjust the amount of exercise and attention you give your dog if
necessary. A dog that is barking constantly, digging up your yard, destroying your
home, or acting out in some other way is most likely in need of extra
activities. Many behavior problems are the result of excess energy.
Unfortunately, many dogs are given up or even euthanized because of a behavior
problem that could have easily been avoided with the proper amount of exercise
and attention.

Coat Maintenance

Your dog’s appearance has a lot to do with his maintenance needs. All dogs need
basic grooming, but certain types need more based on the type of hair coat. If
you get a dog with hair that keeps growing, then routine grooming is essential.
Most short haired, smooth-coated dogs do shed, so be prepared to do some extra
cleaning up. There are grooming tools can help reduce shedding and
understanding your dog’s coat needs is an important part of ownership.

Be aware that dogs with long, floppy ears are more prone to ear infections and
require frequent thorough ear cleanings. In addition, certain types of dogs can
do a lot of drooling. Many owners of Mastiffs, Bloodhounds and similar dogs,
actually carry a “slobber cloth” with them to wipe the drool. If they shake
their heads – watch out!


Puppies require the greatest amount of training and attention, especially over
the first six months. Be prepared to dedicate much of your time to
housebreaking and raising your new puppy. Your dog will likely have plenty of
accidents in the house and will probably chew your furniture and personal
belongings. These problems will gradually resolve themselves with dedicated
training, but time and patience is a must. You should also be aware that your puppy’s
personality might be different then you expected when he is grown, especially
if you adopt a mixed-breed dog. Like children, puppies will also go through
stages of growth and maturity. The terrible twos in children is similar to the “teen”
in dogs. Usually between 8 months and two years, some dogs seem to forget their
manners, try our patience and see how much they can get away with. Maintaining
your training throughout this time will see everyone come through it with
flying colors.

Adult dogs can be an excellent choice for most families. Getting an adult dog might
be a better choice if you want to have a better idea of what his true energy
level, attitude, and temperament will be. However, just because the dog is an
adult does not mean he is trained and you should still expect some degree of
dedicated training at first. Especially if you get a dog from a shelter, where
no-one knows his history or background, you may need to retrain bad habits.  Fortunately, many adult dogs have been trained
and socialized to some degree and can easily adjust to their new lives in their
forever homes with some time and patience. Be prepared, especially in the first
weeks to teach him your rules and expectations and don’t assume he already
knows what you want of him.

Senior dogs should not be forgotten! Welcoming a senior dog into your home can
be a wonderful way to bring joy to the golden years of a dog. Unfortunately,
senior dogs are less likely to be adopted and often end up living out their
lives in shelters or being euthanized. A senior dog can make a wonderful
companion if you are looking for a lower energy dog. However, it is important
to know that your senior dog needs special attention, more frequent veterinary
check-ups and is more likely to develop health problems that cost time and
money to address.

Unlike a puppy or adult dog, you must know that you will not have as many years
with your senior dog. If you are willing to accept the responsibilities,
consider adopting a senior dog. It can be one of the most rewarding and compassionate
things you can do for these precious creatures.


Lynne Fowler

March 16, 2009





Blog the Change

Views: 659

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This is a great post, a must read, and something for everyone to consider. Adopting a dog goes way beyond the colour and looks and "non-shed" factor. You absolutely have to consider YOUR lifestyle and capabilities first, and then choose a breed that fits.

Point in case: I was warned by more than one person that an Australian Shepherd is a "working" and "herding" dog and can be "hyper" and "needs a job" or will choose the job of eating your furniture. Before I chose to adopt Samantha (an Aussie-mix) I did a ton of research and asked a lot of questions. Then I considered my lifestyle, my home situation, could I manage a "busy" dog, etc. I decided yes, I could manage, and Sammie is a wonderful addition to our household. The furniture has not been harmed.
Doing the research and asking questions puts you and the dog you choose in a much better place. Too many dogs are turned into shelters, returned to pet stores or breeders because the adopter did not do their research. Impulse buying a puppy is a bad thing but one that pet stores rely on. Sadly, and in many cases it does not work out to be what people thought it would be. The "Non-shedding Doodles" myth is a perfect example of that.
This was a very helpful post and I am now considering an older dog more after reading more on puppies.  This will be my first dog and while aware of the costs of owning a pet breed, energy levels, size all of theese have been a big ? for me.  I need all the information I can get!  Thanks!
Crys, this site is a wealth of info. Spend some time looking around and you will find all your questions answered somewhere. If you need a specific answer, start a discussion in the Main Forum. There are lots of members who will come in to help. You may find the site a little quiet today, for the holiday but tomorrow, we will be back in action. Hugs, Lynne

Many of the dogs that come into rescue will have one or more of the following common behavior problems. In fact, the previous owner's inability to deal with these problems may have led to the dog's surrender. Your rescue dog will become more loving if you work diligently to correct these behaviors

____________ The Ten Day Rule, or the "Honeymoon Period ___________________

It's a good idea to remember that is takes at least two weeks to truly evaluate his temperament (as well as to make sure he isn't harboring any illnesses). It is not unusual for a new dog to be very quiet and timid at first. Don't be surprised if new behavior problems crop up after about 10-14 days. This is actually a welcome sign, because it means that the dog is beginning to feel relaxed and letting his true personality show. Try to withhold judgments of the dog's temperament until this initial period has passed.

• Not Housetrained
o Rule out medical problems (intestinal problems, bladder infections, etc.)
o Supervise the dog constantly. Don't let him out of sight. (Use doors, gates or leash)
o Confine the dog whenever he can't be supervised (use a crate)
o Reward correct behavior: Give praise and treats when he does it right
o Feed on a set schedule. Don't just leave food in his bowl all day.
o Remove water several hours before bedtime
o Go outside on a schedule. Do not rely on the dog to tell you he needs to go.
o Go out frequently to figure out his schedule. Gradually eliminate unnecessary trips.
o Watch for signs like circling, sniffing, and whining.
o Interrupt the dog if you see him start to go (clap hands, "no, outside!")
o If it's too late, don't punish. The dog probably won't make the connection.
o Clean with enzymatic cleaner to remove odor.

• Marking in the house
o Neuter the dog
o Keep the dog on a leash tethered to your waist
o Interrupt the dog as he starts to lift his leg
o Crate the dog when you cannot watch him
o Tie a towel or "bellyband" around his waist to catch any leaks
o Spray any marked areas with an enzymatic cleaner

• Chewing
o Supervise the dog constantly
o Confine the dog whenever he can't be supervised (use a crate)
o Provide appropriate chew toys
o Use a bitter tasting spray (found at pet supply stores) on inappropriate items
o Puppyproof the house. If you leave your socks on the floor and the dog chews them, whose fault is that?

• Barking -- Dogs bark for different reasons. If the reason is...
o Boredom: Provide exercise and mental stimulation. Teach games like "find it" and provide challenging, food-dispensing toys like buster cubes and kongs.
o Loneliness: Bring the dog into the house with you
o Separation anxiety: Gradually teach the dog to tolerate being alone for longer periods
o To get attention: Ignore the dog. Reward quiet behavior.
o Stress: Ignoring won't work if dog is barking to relieve stress. Refocus the dog with obedience commands (sit, down, watch me, etc.) or move away from the source of stress.
o Guarding the neighborhood: If you can't supervise the dog to correct the behavior, confine him in a quiet area away from windows and doors so he won't be overstimulated by everything going on outside.
o If all else fails, consider a bark collar. Two types: shock and citronella spray. Collar choice depends on dog's temperament. Effectiveness depends on quality of the collar and consistent, correct collar use. Both types are humane and effective if used correctly, but consider the dog's temperament first, and watch for side effects (for example, generalized fear of the place where the collar went off).

• Jumping
o Ignore the dog when it jumps. Instruct every person the dog meets not to reward jumping with *any* attention. Remember, even shouting "no" is a form of attention. No need to kick or knee the dog in the chest; just turn away.
o Train an incompatible behavior: sit or "four on the floor." Dog can't jump and sit (or stand) at the same time.
o Be consistent!

• Dashing through doors
o Teach an incompatible behavior, eg: "wait." Dog must sit (or stand or down or make eye contact with you) before door opens, and must wait to go through the open door until given permission. Start with the leash attached, and practice until you can open the door and the dog doesn't budge.

• Pulling on leash
o Clicker training -- Click and reward (treat) every time the dog is walking beside you with a loose leash
o Be unpredictable -- Abruptly change direction any time the dog stops paying attention to you.
o "Be a tree" -- Don't move forward unless the leash is slack (personally this has never worked for me but may work for some)
o "Penalty yards" -- Return to the starting line each time the leash gets tight
o "Walking with a goal" -- Choose a goal that your dog will find rewarding (put some chicken on the ground several feet away, or choose a favorite smelly telephone pole). The dog must keep a loose leash in order to reach the goal.
o Targeting -- Teach the dog to touch your hand for food rewards. He can't pull if he is walking beside you.
o Management -- Use a special collar or harness for short-term management, while also continuing to work on long-term training solutions:
 Gentle Leader headcollar -- Fits around the neck and muzzle, like a horse's halter. Gently and effectively reduces pulling by giving you control of the dog's head. Do not jerk the leash because you could injure the dog's neck. Also make sure you keep the dog on a fairly short lead so that he can't get a running start and hit the end of the lead, twisting his neck. Disadvantages: There is an adjustment period, during which most dogs will try to paw or rub the collar off. Dogs can learn to pull with this type of collar.
 Prong or pinch collar -- Gives immediate, effective control for dogs that object to a headcollar. Some people refer to the pinch collar as "power steering." Collar must be fitted correctly to be effective. Advantage over Gentle Leader is that there is no adjustment period. Some dogs are more sensitive to the pinching sensation than others, so use with caution and consult an experienced trainer for assistance.
 Front-attach harness -- Makes it difficult to pull by putting the attachment point in front of the dog's chest, thus pulling the dog off balance. There are several brands on the market. Very effective if the dog's only issue is pulling. Not a good choice for dogs with other issues (such as lunging and barking at other dogs or people) since you have no control of the dog's head.
 Flexi (retractable lead) -- Most dogs enjoy the extra room to maneuver and will trot happily back and forth, rather than running to the end of the lead and continuing to pull. Please practice using your flexi before going out in public. In inexperienced hands, dogs on retractable leashes can be a nuisance or even a hazard. Read the instructions that came with your flexi and practice using the brake and retracting the lead in a quick, fluid motion.

• Running away / not coming when called
o Management -- Make sure the yard is secure. Keep the dog on leash when outside.
o Neutering -- This can reduce the tendency of a dog to roam, but will take some time to have an effect. Don't expect this to completely cure the problem because running away is already an established behavior.
o Practice recalls -- Start with the dog very close (in the house, on leash, or in a fenced area) and reward the dog every time it comes to you. Gradually increase the distance.
o Choose a special recall cue and make sure the dog is always rewarded for responding to the cue.
o Never call the dog for something unpleasant, like getting a bath.
o Don't call unless you are reasonably sure the dog will respond, or are in a position to enforce the command (dog is on a long line). Don't give him the option of not coming until he is reliably responding to the cue in training sessions. Otherwise, you are just teaching the dog to ignore your recall cue.
o Don't repeat your cue. If the dog fails to come on the first cue, go and get him.
o Do lots of repetitions until the dog responds without hesitation, regardless of distance and distractions.
o Remote training collar or e-collar -- This is a very effective tool to gain off leash control if used under the guidance of an experience trainer. For consistent performance, stick with quality brands (Dogtra, Tritronics). Use the lowest level that your dog can perceive. In general, commands should first be taught via another method (clicker & treats, leash & collar) and only then reinforced with the collar. Remember that the dog must first be taught what the sensation from the collar means and how he can stop the stimulation by complying with your command. The dog should be on a long line to begin this training. If your "training plan" consists of strapping on a collar, letting the dog run free, and pushing buttons until the dog magically returns to you, PLEASE do not even consider using an ecollar. This is a controversial issue and The DRRC reserves the right to DISAGREE with the use of ecollars.

• Aggression -- Consult with a trainer for help if your dog...
o Bites or snaps
o Growls or snarls when being handled
o Guards food or toys
o Exhibits any other behavior that would make you afraid to have the dog around other people or animals

Food Aggression - This is a common thing with shelter and puppy mill dogs. Here is one idea that worked:
Was watching the New York Animal Cops on Animal Planet. and when they come across a perfect dog with just one problem = food agression then they have to euthanize it. We had a dog that we loved that had food agression and we started out by filling a bowl with food and for a couple of weeks we hand fed her every bite until it was gone. Then we switched things by putting a bite of food from our hand into the bowl and let her eat that. Why cant the animal behaviorist try that instead of using that fake hand that doesn't smell like a hand? Our method worked amazingly well. No more food aggression.


Thanx 4 all the great care & love shown in your many efforts . I'm Sure our canine companions have an improved quality of life due to you. Little Tim

Thank you, Tim. Lot's of info and trying to make it easy to read can be difficult. I appreciate your approval. Enjoy!

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