What Type of Dog Would You Like?
If you’re thinking of a specific breed of dog, you might look for a reputable breeder or a rescue group catering to that particular breed. Perhaps request a referral from a veterinarian, other dog owners, a local rescue group, or a breed club.
Remember however that most reputable breeders ask to meet you prior to selling a dog, because they want to be sure you’ll be a suitable, responsible owner.
An advantage of mixed breed dogs is that they generally suffer from fewer health problems when compared to their purebred cousins. Mixed breeds also tend to adapt easily to a new home, and often have better dispositions.
Obviously, a purebred is more predictable and it’s easier to know what to expect in when it comes looks (e.g. size), as well as behavior and health. You need to do some research in order to make a purebred choice.
Obviously, a dog’s character is not entirely determined by its breed or mix. A lot depends on the kind of home, training, and behavior management you provide.
Getting a Dog from a Rescue Group or Shelter
When adopting a dog (purebred or mixed breed) from a dog rescue or shelter you’re likely to end up with an excellent pet.
Most dogs arrive at a shelter due to no fault of theirs. The owner may have moved to non-pet housing or sadly might have died. Or, an irresponsible owner may have left the dog to fend for itself. People sometimes take in a dog on a whim and to discover later that they’re unwilling or unable to care for the animal.
Shelters: At a shelter dogs who display aggressive behavior are mostly euthanized instead of being offered for adoption.
Rescue groups look for suitable homes to take in unwanted or abandoned dogs. Many such dogs are taken from shelters where they might be euthanized. Volunteers generally look after the animals till they are able to find a permanent home for them. Therefore, rescuers often become very familiar with the dog’s personality. They help by advising you whether or not the pet can be a good match for your needs. By adopting a shelter or rescue dog, you save his life and give a home to a deserving pet.
Puppies in Pet Shops or Those Sold on the Internet Should be Avoided
Most pet stores that sell young puppies get them from inhumane and cruel puppy mills. These are like dog-making machines where mother dogs spend days inside cramped kennels or cages with almost no personal attention that a dog craves. This is not quality of life. When adult dogs can no longer breed they are discarded.
Those who buy pups from pet shops or on the web without checking out a breeder’s home, often unknowingly support a cruel industry.
You can put a stop to this cruel cycle by simply choosing to adopt a pet from a rescue group of animal shelter. Or, you can purchase a dog from a reputable breeder who agrees to show you where and how your pup was born and raised.
Source: The Humane Society of the United States
How to Assess a Dog
The perfect dog assessment test does not exist. In order to guess as to how a puppy will adjust to your home, realize that it mostly comes down to you and your family’s emotional reaction to the new pet.
However, there are some things to look for in a prospective new dog. Generally, you want a friendly dog that likes to be touched and is obviously interested in you. If you have young children, you need a dog that’s not highly sensitive to being handled, and can stand loud noises.
- Speak with someone who’s spent time with the dog, and who can offer insights into its personality. Some organizations test dogs for temperament to assist in making good matches. Such tests may be able to tell you if a dog is with good children or other pets, e.g. does he guard his food, is he energetic needing lots of exercise, or does he prefer to snuggle up someone warm and loving.
- The shelter experience is likely to leave any dog stressed. Therefore, don’t be surprised if he seems rather shy or frightened at first. Generall, a dog’s true personality doesn’t become apparent until he’s left the shelter.
- Spend time with the dog, outside the cage and ask yourself: Is this dog curious and friendly towards you? Is he hyperactive or calm? Does he like to be touched and stroked?
- Take the dog for a walk:See how he reacts to other dogs and people. Ask to feed him. Play with him. Is your impression that dog’s comfortable around you and other family members?
Realize that even a dog with physical or behavioral problems, can, with the right training and care can still make a great pet.
Committing to taking a dog is a serious, personal decision and it’s important to be fully aware of potential difficulties before taking that step.
What if You Can’t Afford a Dog?
Perhaps after much thought, you realize that you don’t have the money, stamina, or time for fulltime dog ownership. There are other ways to experience the benefits of being around dogs. After all, even short periods spent with a dog can bring considerable benefits.
- Dog walking: Ask to walk a neighbor’s dog or volunteer at a rescue group or animal shelter, most of which need volunteers to help care for homeless dogs and assist at adoption events. You’ll help yourself as well as helping with socializing and exercising the dogs, which will make them more adoptable.
- Pet “rental” programs: In some rescue groups and animal shelters, dogs available for adoption are rented out for walks or play dates. You can foster an animal temporarily till a permanent home is found. You might even decide the dog is right for you.
- Therapy dogs and cats: Quite a few organizations offer especially trained therapy cats and dogs for visits to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, children’s hospitals, hospice programs, schools and shelters. During such visits people are invited to stroke the animals. This is known to reduce stress and anxiety and improve their mood.