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Getting a New Dog?

Introduction:After my first dog passed away, and before I got my second dog, I picked out a really cute young puppy at the pound. My family and I have always gotten all our dogs at the pound, and they are always terrific. This particular puppy was terrific too, but she ended up being the wrong breed for me. She was, I found out later, a border collie mix. Very, very, hyperactive, and almost uncontrollable. 

I don't mind working with my dogs, but she and I just didn't mesh. I ended up finding her a home on a large ranch where she could run and run, and then I did a better job of researching the breed before I tried finding a new friend again. 

My current dog and I get along great, but I wish I gotten some solid information before having to go through what I did. So read this valuable article: 


What You Need to Know about Getting a Dog
By Michael Russell

Before you get a dog there are many factors to consider. First of all, you should examine why you want a dog in your life. You must be willing to share your life with an animal, care for it and be responsible for it. You also must be prepared for what a dog will require.

Dogs require exercise, discipline and affection, in that order. Notice that exercise is the most important requirement. If you're the type that has a hard time getting up before noon on days off and you don't like to get off the sofa too much, getting a dog probably isn't for you. Even small, indoor "lap" dogs need exercise and physical interaction. The key aspect here is that you need to actively interact with your dog and make certain that they are getting the exercise they deserve.

Many breeds need intense exercise. If your idea of exercise with your dog is a leisurely 10 minute walk, then a retriever for example, is definitely not for you. Retrievers are a breed that will require intense interaction with hikes in the woods, swimming, running and fetching. This breed will better suit people who love the outdoors and are quite active.

Something else that is very important to consider is that puppies up until two years of age will demand your constant attention and supervision. It's extremely similar to having a baby. You will have to plan to feed your puppy at regular intervals, clean up various messes, ensure that that they are given the opportunity to do their business, provide them with chew toys, get out of bed early on your days off, take them out in bad weather and so on. It's not that these are bad things, just part of the overall picture.

On an emotional level, you must realize this unavoidable truth. Dogs have a fairly short life span compared to humans. You will fall in love with your dog, become totally attached to him and one day have to say goodbye to him or make the impossible decision to end his life. This can be too much for some people to take. One way to look at it is the love you shared enriched both your lives so you were both better off because of your relationship.In this day and age most of us haven't had a lot of experience in living with or raising animals. So you should be prepared to educate yourself regarding dog training by reading, attending classes and consulting trainers. There is no one absolute best method to train dogs but generally speaking, avoid methods that involve abuse like hitting, slapping or yelling at your puppy. Choose motivators such as praise, treats, or play instead. There are plenty of excellent trainers and training techniques out there that employ methods that will leave you with a fun-loving, well-adjusted, loving companion.

Dogs involve expenses. It's as simple as that. Everything from vet bills to dog food to toys to fencing in your yard will take money. Be prepared to make financial commitments.

Dogs require time. You will probably be spending a minimum of an hour a day interacting with your dog. Grooming, feeding, playing, training and exercising are just a part of this picture. You will need extra time to clean up after your pet and you will have to consider that leaving your dog at home alone for long periods will have a negative effect on him. Therefore you cannot just pop out to a movie or restaurant whenever you feel like it because you have obligations.

You must match your dog with your lifestyle. This point was touched on earlier. Research breeds before you make a decision. For example, if you know that cleaning up dog hair will drive you crazy, don't get a husky. Look at the amount of space you have in your home because some breeds require much more space than others. You must examine your situation and environment to discover what breed would be the most complimentary.

Last but certainly not least, getting a dog requires common sense. This common sense can be acquired through ongoing education, actively observing and interacting with your dog, maintaining vigilance and being observant. Being a dog owner means being responsible. A dog is not a toy that can be merely put on a shelf and brought out when you feel like playing with it. Dogs are social animals that need exercise, discipline and affection. Provide your dog these things and you will have a truly wonderful companion.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Dogs
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