Let’s face it: everything is cute when it’s small and furry. Puppies especially, but keep in mind that even a wolverine is playfully adorable if young enough, so for the sake of all Fidos and your life, make a personal selection that suits your lifestyle. And as wonderful as they may seem when they’re young, keep in mind that they grow and mature in more ways than probably most humans you know.
A good question to ask yourself if you find yourself longing for a canine companion is whether you want a puppy or an adult. There are many wonderful adult dogs that need a home. This is also an ideal option if you’re past the point or are repelled by the rigors of potty training, as most adult dogs, barring any separation anxiety or intestinal upsets, prefer to do their dirty business away from home. Most are also long past the tumultuous puppy stage, which is equivalent to the two terrible humans, only this little guy doesn’t understand much English, if any, and doesn’t wear diapers.
When it comes to a dog, size does matter, to a large extent. Ask yourself how much space you have and no, the park down the street doesn’t count in the equation because you don’t live there and for Fido to have a chance to run in it, you would have to be with him. at the other end of the strap. Your home will be your dog’s home, whether you’re there or not, and if you live in an efficient apartment, two mammals running around it will be very suitable. A backyard is always more beneficial, but it’s not necessary if you’re close and available enough for Fido to get the exercise he needs. Also, be sure to check your landlord’s pet policy for weight limits. In most places, the size of the dog is proportional to the amount of the pet deposit.
Once you’ve decided whether or not you can handle a large dog or would prefer a smaller one, your next hurdle is going through all the details of the breed. It must be said that there are literally thousands of pets, some of them purebreds, waiting for a good home at local animal shelters at almost no cost, unlike purebreds from breeders that can cost you hundreds and in extreme cases , , millions of dollars. Shelter pets are quality animals that are sometimes in a life or death situation. The ASPCA doesn’t just deal with strays, they’re involved in preventing animal cruelty and you’d be surprised at the number of litters of puppies they acquire on a daily basis. Check with your local pet stores for “adoption days” held by local no-kill shelters or other pet placement groups.
Also don’t think that just because you have your heart set on a particular breed, a breeder is your only option. For each breed, there is usually a rescue organization that would love to find homes for all the pets that have been found or relinquished for various reasons. All sorts of information for every breed imaginable, as well as a list of registered breeders in your area, are available online at http://www.akc.org.
When reviewing breeds, remember that temperament is vital: An example is an elderly couple who adopted a Lab puppy and then had to give it away because it was too hyperactive. This was not only quite devastating for them, but also for the dog. You wouldn’t keep dating someone who is always yelling at you, and dogs don’t like that either, so think about the things you do now, not the things you’ll do once you have a dog. Everyone has that fantasy of hiking their dog in the snowy Alps, but in the real world, it’s better to find a pet that you don’t have to change your entire life or address for. Do you already enjoy long walks or are you a homebody who gets tired just walking to the living room? Exercise and not to mention bathroom habits will be the two main factors why Fido will need some kind of involvement from him to do it every day.
When it comes to health, there are some breeds that are prone to more genetic diseases than the average mutt. Don’t let that determine you, just be aware of what the breeder’s story is. A reputable breeder will give you all the information about the genetic line of the mother and father probably before you ask. Both parents must be registered with the AKC and must have documentation to prove it, not to mention a veterinarian for reference.
Be prepared to spend a pretty penny on your dog’s regular checkups. Health insurance is available for pets, believe it or not, but most people don’t know it until they see the brochure in the emergency room after something tragic has happened. Annual checkups are generally not covered, but are important to your pet’s health. Dogs aren’t like humans, if that’s not obvious enough, so they can’t tell you that their back has hurt or they’ve been experiencing hearing loss or their vision has been cloudy lately. They also can’t tell you if they’ve been bitten by a heartworm-carrying mosquito or contracted tapeworms. If they scratch a lot, then that’s your cue to check for fleas, but that’s how many translations they can pass on. Fortunately, we have the angels of the animal health care industry to help us with all this: the veterinarians.
Your vet’s office is not only a fun place to take puppy photos and have a room full of people humming how adorable they are, but also to maintain your pet’s health throughout his life. It’s a good idea to have a veterinarian in mind before adopting your prospective patient and to be aware of the cost of their services; so the only surprises will be the ones that Fido leaves for you in your apartment. Annual vaccinations, neutering and spaying services are available at minimal cost through various pet charities in your area, but they often don’t have the resources or facilities to care for an injured or sick pet, especially in an emergency, and don’t doubt for a minute that there won’t be at least a few of those in your pet’s life.
Dogs are known for getting into unimaginable situations. Veterinarians and animal technicians could tell you creepy story after creepy example of this. There are the stories of dogs eating pantyhose, birth control pills, bed sheets, and about a thousand who will eat those little bouncing rubber balls. Then there are the stories of escape artists roaming the neighborhood or those who simply ran for their lives because of fireworks that their owner was sure they would enjoy. There are the kids who were painting while mom had her back turned and before she could stop them they had turned the black lab into a colorful dalmatian with toxic paint that made him sick.
The stories will go on and on, each one a little weirder than the last, but the goal is the same for all of them: pay attention to your dog’s surroundings and train, train, train. I can’t say this enough, training will save your dog’s life, it’s a proven fact, ask any vet or dog owner. There are dog trainers across the country who will tell you the same thing: repetition and positive reward are the key to training your dog. If a car comes by and he’s off the leash for whatever reason, he should know you mean it when you say “Come!” A dog that jumps on your company will only be cute if he is small and very, very polite about it; anything larger than ten pounds is just going to be a furry pest.
Think of it this way: You wouldn’t move in with someone who doesn’t know where to go to the bathroom and doesn’t even turn their head when you say their name, right? Training resources are available throughout your community. Some trainers give private classes, while other stores like PetsMart have group classes. For those who don’t care how much it costs to get a dog to learn to sit, there are dog “boot camps” that the pup can go to for a couple of weeks to learn basic commands, but for the companion animal, a a few basic home lessons usually do the trick.
The point is to think about the things you want in a dog, as well as what the dog would need from you and whether you’re prepared to keep it. The fact that you survive this pet should be motivation enough for you to be completely willing to take the time and put in the effort to ensure they have the best life they can possibly have.