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How to select the right type of dog for you:the common errors to avoid when choosing a new puppy
An unfortunately typical scene. A rolly poly ball of fur stares at us through the transparent window of a pet shop. His large, doe eyes meet ours and we fall in love with him immediately. WIthout much thought, we quickly tell the shop owner to put him in a carrier and happily, we take him home. Just a month later, the puppy is in the enclosed space of an animal shelter, looking for a new home.
Such is unfortunate fate met by many a little dog, sometimes only a week or two after it has been bought. Many of us take him home, find that he is not the one for us and he becomes the victim of our impulsivity and erroneous decision making.
Indeed, a cliched saying though this is, choosing a dog is indeed very different from choosing a toy. There are some mistakes potential dog owners make when choosing a puppy, and their choices usually end up becoming a complete disaster for both themselves and the little dog.
How to choose the right dog for you
Common mistakes people make when taking FIdo home
So what are some of these errors? Being aware of some of them will help to prevent any hasty decisions and hence, another dog heading for the animal shelter.
Buying based on emotions
Many potential pet owners take little dogs home based on the feeling that the little creature gives him or her. They give in to the irresistible eyes and cuddly, warm appearance of the little puppy.
However, the little puppy does not remain cute for too long. It does grow up, and loses its youthful appearance just as we do!
Many pet owners do not think about how ready they are to own a dog. Often, they realize only too late that they are unprepared for the ritual of taking the dog for daily walks, cleaning poo or giving him a bath, realizing too late that cuteness is not everything.
I read a post online from a frustrated dog owner which disturbed me. In it, she mentions that she regretted immediately taking the dog home, because the baths, walks and feeding were simply wearing her out. Clearly, she was not ready at all for the responsibilities of dog ownership.
Not tailoring to the owner's individual situation
It is all to easy to forget that a little dog is a member of the family and as such considering the overall situation one is in before adopting is imperative.
Firstly, one may not have the time to commit to looking after a pet because of work situations or other family commitments. Though having the best of intentions, it is simply impossible to factor in the time to took after a new dog.
Often, owners overlook the space in which they live and find out too late that the dog may be a bit too big when it grows older. Many also fail to consider that some members of their families may have allergies and thus having a dog might pose a problem.
Some owners fail to factor in the time and cost needed for grooming, If a dog owner has little time for grooming a dog,avoid these breeds:
- The terrier breeds
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Bearded Collies
- Chow Chows
Some owners may prefer a more sedentary dog. Active dog breeds like these, in this case, should be avoided:
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Australian Shepherds
- Blood hounds
- Border Collies
- Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
Forgetting that a puppy has habits
Many forget that a puppy has many “doggy” habits that will require getting used to. Dogs love digging, burrowing, and a good game of chase. Barking is a natural instinct and method of communication. Dogs have quirks too, like finding a piece of “treasure” and suddenly dropping it at your feet. And yes, if not restrained, they eat a ton! These are the little things owners forget that they have to get used to if they want to welcome a puppy into the home.
When the behaviors get a bit annoying, the puppy ends up being sent to a shelter if another home cannot be found for it.
Thinking short term
Situations in the family and at home change periodically, such as having a new birth or moving to a new town or country. If one already has the propensity to move because of job situations or other considerations, it is best not to own a dog.
Many, however, give in to the “puppy look” and buy the dog on impulse. A common situation to come across is a dog being abandoned when the couple finds that it has no room for it because of the new baby, or because of allergies that the baby might develop.
Such things, then should be seriously considered before rushing over to a pet store and bringing the dog home.
Treating the puppy categorically
It is easy to forget that dogs, like human beings, are individuals with different temperaments and needs. Not every terrier will be feisty, nor every Labrador good natured. Similarly, not every Rottweiler is aggressive. Tempers and habits vary from dog to dog and according to the situation they are in.
I found this out with the two Westies that I have owned. My previous, which passed away from old age, was even tempered, though a little grouchy at times, but compliant to any attempts to train him. My present one, Cloudy, is more of a handful and not as amenable to grooming or attempts to train her.
Similarly, I once came across a terrier, originally friendly and even tempered, which became aggressive after many sessions of abusive treatment from the owner. In the end, it was adopted by the owner of the pet store, but still, to this day, growls meanly whenever someone tries to touch it.
Not researching enough into the breed
While I mentioned that each dog develops their temperaments depending on the situation, it is true that different breeds are prone to different dispositions. Terriers have a range of tempers, but most are prone to frolic and are intelligent, responding well to training. Some do, though have an instinct for the hunt, one inherited from their ancestors. If a potential pet owner does not take kindly to his lawn being burrowed or a dog constantly coming to you with little “treasures”, do not get a terrier. Mine, Cloudy, definitely has these tendencies!
Another potentially challenging breed is the Jack Russell Terrier. While playful and happy, it can be a little TOO much so. If one has little time to commit to plenty of activity and hates dogs who dig, a JRT is definitely not the right dog.
For owners looking for a dog which is less of a challenge to own, I recommend labradors and schnauzers. Both breeds are prone to (notice my use of the language) even tempers and are playful, friendly and loyal companions.
Some of the dogs which are more of a challenge to own are:
- Border Collies
- Chow Chows
- Airedale Terriers
- German Shepherds
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Irish Wolfhounds
These are not kennel dogs and need a consistent, more experienced owner. They can show aggressive behavior if not managed properly.
Dog breeds not suitable for children
- Llhasa Apso
- Yorkshire Terriers
If children tend to be a bit rough and tease them, these breeds may exhibit aggressive behavior because they are a little sensitive.
Not buying from the correct breeder
Some breeders may not have socialized the puppies well or introduced them to the “ways of the world” - that is, relating to other people and dogs. If the dog does not respond well to the breeder, it is definitely a strong indication not to get that dog.
I once had a bad experience with a breeder. Being a teen, I was not so aware of how to select a dog properly, though I wanted a Bichon Frise very much indeed. I didn’t note that the little dog I bought was not well socialized. She is still alive, 18 years later, but just as before does not like being around people much and snaps at them randomly, even at my husband. It shows the importance of knowing how the puppies were nurtured at birth, for such nurturing has bearing on how the dog behaves in future.
Not observing the puppies
Many people do not spend enough time getting to know the dog well before taking it home.
It is quite natural for an owner to take a dog home when they fall in love with it at the pet shop. Puppies, like humans, will display traits over time. So getting to know them over a period of time is essential.
Returning to the pet shop over a few days would be most advisable for doggy traits to be observed.
Buying a dog is a responsibility and commitment not to be taken lightly. Taking these points into consideration could mean saving another puppy from an unwanted fate an an animal shelter!
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