Are you thinking of getting a dog?

Originally published in the Rolesville Buzz
October 2012

Choosing to bring a new dog into your life is a major decision. Be sure you are ready for the change it will make to your day-to-day routine, and the added cost involved in pet ownership. Now, let’s look at several factors to consider before choosing your new dog.

Do you have family members with allergies? Are you willing to adjust your lifestyle for a high-energy dog? The size and age of the dog should play a big part in finalizing your decision. Remember, getting a dog requires a firm commitment to ownership. Take the A.S.A.P test to determine your dog style.

Age. Puppies require the greatest amount of training and attention, especially over the first six months. A puppy doesn’t know that the new handbag or pair of shoes you just bought isn’t his new chew toy. And then there is the issue of housebreaking. With dedicated training and lots of patience, your puppy will learn where to potty and what he can and can’t chew. However, keep in mind that puppies, especially mixed breeds, may grow up to have different personalities than you expected. This isn’t a bad thing; just something to keep in mind.

Adult dogs can be an excellent choice if you want a true idea of the energy level, attitude and temperament of your pet. “Older” doesn’t always mean that your new pet has been properly trained, so expect to dedicate some time to training at first.

Senior dogs should not be forgotten either. They make great low-energy pets and you can bring joy to these wonderful canine companions during there golden years.

Size. Do you want a small pup that you can carry in your handbag or a large dog that you can roll and tumble with for years to come? Small breeds can be more delicate and sensitive to the cold, and develop “big bad dog” attitudes. Larger breeds need more room to play and move around. Another thought to consider is that, the larger the dog, the more expenses you will have for food, supplies and medical treatments. No matter what size your pet is, it is always recommended that you attend training classes about proper doggie behavior.

Activity Level. You probably already know that some dogs have a much higher level of energy than others. It is often determined by breed, but that alone isn’t enough to determine how energetic your dog could become. Every dog, regardless of size and breed needs exercise. If you know that you cannot commit to more that a casual walk once or twice per day, then a dog with a lower energy level would be better for you. Remember, if your pet can’t release its energy through proper exercise, it will find other ways, such as digging, barking, chewing or acting out in ways that aren’t always appreciated. So, think twice and make sure that you have the time to give an overly active, high-energy pup.

Physical Maintenance. All dogs need basic grooming; however, there are certain breeds and mixed breeds that need more than just the occasional bath. Long-hair dogs require daily brushing and routine haircuts to prevent matting and maintain their coats. Most short-haired, smooth-coated dogs are major shedders, so be prepared to deal lots of brushing and cleaning up those hairballs.

Then there are the dogs with the long, floppy ears. They are more prone to ear infections, so special care should be given to proper ear care. Finally we have the droolers. Many of their owners will carry cloths to wipe up the slobber as it accumulates. But beware: if they shake their head, it could be a gooey mess.

Pets are great. They bring us much love and companionship, so we need to be prepared to give back the time and attention they need to live a happy carefree life. Just remember to take your time when looking for a dog. It will be much more rewarding to have a pet that compliments your family instead of causes problems.