Seven Things to Consider Before Getting A Dog

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Have you been thinking of getting a dog lately? Have your kids been pestering you for one? Everyone else in the neighborhood seems to have a dog, and they’re just the thing. They’re loyal, loving, lovable and nonjudgmental. They guard you and your home, and some will defend you with their lives. They are beautiful to behold: even an ugly dog has its charms. But before you rush to your local shelter or breeder, here are seven things to consider before you bring your canine pet into your home:

1. The Breed

Over the millennia, humans have transmogrified the wolf into many breeds of dog. It’s amazing that they’re all the same species. But as different breeds have different shapes and sizes, they have different needs and temperaments. Some play well with children, while others find boisterous kids hard to tolerate. Some need to be kept active to be happy, which means not only walks but lots of playtime. Others are happy to lie about all day — we’re looking at you, Mr. Pug. There are some dogs that can be left alone for longish stretches of time and others who become neurotic if they’re not frequently in the presence of their pack members. If you’re thinking of a mutt, make sure you ask the shelter owners about the physical and psychological needs of the dog you have your eye on, and decide whether or not you can meet them.

2. The Space

It is common sense to say that a big dog need lots of space while a little one can be happy in a studio apartment. Then, there are those medium sized beasties. Depending on the breed, some can be happy in an apartment, and some need a good sized house with a yard to run around in. When in doubt, it may be best to err on the side of a large space. When it comes to a dog’s need to explore the world, no yard is too large.

3. Size

Usually, when you know the breed of the dog you know how big it’s going to get. However, there are some breeds that have toy, miniature and standard sizes, like poodles. Make sure you know how big the dog is going to get before you choose the puppy, and bring it home.

4. Shedding

Some people may love dogs but can’t have one around because they’re allergic to the dander in their fur. The good news is that there are types that are hypoallergenic or don’t shed very much. Indeed, a dog like the Mexican Hairless doesn’t have fur in the first place. The thing about these ugly/cute pooches is that their skin needs special care to keep it healthy. But other than that, they’re lovely and don’t cause sniffles, sneezes or hives. By the way, a dog with a long, luxurious coat such as an Afghan or a collie needs to be groomed often and sometimes professionally. This might go under the next topic.

5. Expense

As a big dog needs a big space, a big dog generally costs more than a little one. If nothing else, the cost of keeping a behemoth fed can be hefty. Roomy crates, bedding and other accoutrements cost more simply because they’re bigger. But Great Danes and mastiffs aren’t the only canines whose upkeep takes a bite out of the family budget. Boxers, bulldogs, pugs and others with smushed in faces are often subject to breathing problems that make them frequent guests at the vet’s. When considering a pet, make sure you have enough bank to care for it properly. Every dog should be neutered or spayed unless you’re going to show him or her. Some shelters do this for you.

6. Safety

When you bring a dog home, can you keep it safe? This may mean putting up a dog proof fence around your property, and remember that dogs are experts at digging under fences. Make sure that all poisons and other things your pooch shouldn’t eat are locked up, and don’t bring plants into the house that will poison the dog if it chews on a leaf. Another thing to know about food safety is that food that’s perfectly good for humans might not be good for a dog. You may not be able to live without chocolate, but if your dog has too much of it, it’ll kill him.

7. Where He’s From

Before you bring a puppy home, check out the shelter or the breeder. The place should be clean, airy, well-lit and sweet-smelling. There should be an atmosphere of calm happiness about the place, and the staff should happily answer your questions. Bring a long list of questions.

With these and other questions and concerns taken care of, you should be ready to get the dog that’s the perfect fit for you and your family.

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