Advice for all prospective dog owners:
Before bringing home a puppy or dog, honestly consider the following questions:
- How much time and patience do you have to take care of a puppy/dog? Don’t just think of the walking, remember the house-training; cleaning up; grooming; playing; obedience training; vet visits; and time just to love them.
- Are you financially prepared for the predictable costs and also the unpredictable costs too? As well as food, toys, beds, harness/leads, parasite treatments and minor vet bills remember that some dogs are prone to certain medical conditions that can be costly. These should be researched and the breeder should show you test scores for the sire and dam to show whether they carry a high or low risk of developing inherited problems. Also take into consideration the possibility of unavoidable injuries/accidents that can result in devastating consequences for both you and your dog in rehabilitation and bills. Make sure you can also afford pet insurance, even if it’s only for the sake of having public liability cover, in case your dog causes a car accident.
- Are you prepared to be a responsible and considerate dog owner? Not just being mindful of fulfilling you dog’s needs but also the health and safety of members of the public and other people’s private property. Obedience training is vital for any dog, you are legally responsible for being in control of your dog at all times. Failure in this area can have dire consequences for both you and your dog and there are special considerations to take into account whether you live in urban or rural areas which should be researched in advance.
- Are you committed to caring for this member of your family for their life-time? A dog is not a commodity or an accessory, it has emotional and psychological needs as well as physical. Learning to communicate with your dog requires you to learn Canine, not just expect the dog to speak Human. It should be a relationship based on unconditional love, dogs are not wild animals or natural loners, they rely on humans for everything.
- Are you being realistic about your energy levels and will you seek out a dog to match? The breed traits should not be ignored when imagining what kind of life-style you will have with your dog. Some breeds need a lot of attention and others are happy to sit and be cuddled for long periods of time. Remember also that each individual within a breed/litter has its own personality. If you are buying a purebred puppy, visit the breeder more than once and ask about the individual characters of each puppy available. If you are re-homing a rescue dog take time to find out if your energy levels are compatible to give you both the best chance for a harmonious future together.
Take into Account your needs, abilities and limitations:
- Do you have or are you planning to have children within the life-span of the dog? Or do you have young children visiting you regularly who would be in contact with the dog? You need to consider the genetic temperament and sensitivity of the breed and remember that small/toy breeds can be easily (albeit accidentally) injured by children.
- Do you have any preconceived ideas about various sizes of dogs that need to be questioned? For example, not all toy breeds are cuddly, not all large breeds are good guard dogs, etc. Do some research on the breed you are interested in to make sure you’re aware of their natural characteristics and if they will conflict with what you desire in your pet.
- What level of exercise are you able to provide for your dog? Some breeds need an hour or more a day to run around and burn up energy, or they require a ‘job’ to do such as herding or retrieving. If you have limited ability to get out and about choose a lower energy breed, or make sure you can afford to send them to a good day care center or dog walker.
- How much time and money are you prepared to spend on grooming to keep the dog healthy? Ask yourself these questions and research the breeds and cost involved in the maintenance of each type:
Do I only want a dog with a ‘no-fuss’ coat that I will brush once a week?
Would I mind a breed that requires trimming/clipping every 4-6 weeks?
Will I be able to manage/afford a dog that needs extensive grooming every 6-10 weeks?
4b. How much hair shedding are you prepared to put up with, or does your household include those who may be allergic to dogs? Remember that some allergies are linked to the dander (dead skin cells) or even the saliva ,rather than the hair itself. If in doubt spend a few hours with an adult dog of the breed you want, before you invest in one yourself, to be sure you are not allergic.
- How much obedience training are you able to give the dog? Some breeds are quick learners and eagerly respond to your training and commands, but being highly engaged can also make them demanding. Others are more independent and even stubborn, slower to respond and perhaps not so motivated to learn new things. How much patience do you have either way?
- Will you do your best to make sure your dog is going to be friendly and confident with strangers/visitors? Breed characteristics influence this aspect of your dog too, as does the amount of socialisation you provide your puppy as they grow up. Remember that an un-socialised puppy may grow into a nervous or aggressive adult dog.