Image00073When choosing a new dog, it is important to consider your lifestyle and environment. It is also important to consider the dog’s size, temperament, personality and coat. Depending on the breed, your dog may be predisposed to certain traits, such as barking or excitability. Always consult your veterinarian before adding a new dog to your family.

Selecting a Breed

Dogs are either mixed breed or purebred. There are seven categories of breeds: toy, hound, terrier, toy, working, herding, sporting, and non-sporting. Of course there are countless combinations of mixed breeds. Even though every dog is unique and has a different personality, dogs that were bred for a specific reason usually share similar qualities. It is important to understand what training will be required of your dog, and patience is required for any pet owner.

Image00074There are no guarantees when choosing a dog, but understanding the temperament and nature of a dog’s parents are helpful in getting the best dog for you. Purebreds are highly sought after, but mixed breeds can be just as smart, lovable, and cute. Often times, mixed breeds make the best companions. For more information about the breeds you are considering, be sure to consult your veterinarian.

Choosing a Puppy

Everyone knows how much fun a puppy can be, but is important for your entire family to understand the responsibility involved and what it means to care for a pet. It is important to plan for the needs of a puppy before you make the decision to add one to your family. It is important to not make a choice based on emotion alone. You may feel bad for a puppy that is frightened, but the puppy may remain fearful even as it grows up. And what can start as fear may lead to aggression, which can result in biting other dogs or people.

dvm2 (23)Whenever possible, find out as much about a puppy’s relatives as you can. When buying from a breeder, ask about the puppy’s parents and ask to contact their owners to learn about any issues with their health or behavior

How a puppy is trained in the early weeks of it’s life can play a large role in how it will behave later in life. Puppies in good health can learn faster, and the more contact a puppy has with people, the easier it can adjust a new family. The best time to introduce a puppy to a new home is between six and ten weeks of age. Be careful how you handle your puppy early, rough play can produce an aggressive pet. When considering buying a puppy, be sure to plan for the many expenses and the months of training necessary to acclimate your pet to living in your home. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian to understand your puppy’s medical needs.

Choosing an Older Dog

Image00051Contrary to popular belief, older dogs can be trained just as well as puppies. An older dog may be the right choice for your family because their behavior and personality are well established. When buying an older dog, it is very important to understand their background and personality. Be sure to ask the former owner or shelter as many questions as you can about the dog. Older dogs become available for a wide variety of reasons: not fitting in with their former family, abandonment, retirement from a career, rescues, lost pets, etc. Understanding the situation your dog was in will help make the transition as smooth as possible. Homeless or rescue dogs can be great pets as they are often appreciative and loyal.

No Attack Dogs

While it can be helpful for a dog to bark at the sign of strangers or intruders, a dog should never be trained to attack. That should only be done by special trainers with expertise in the field and in very controlled settings. Amatuer attempts to train an attack dog can lead to injuries, often to the trainer or their family, especially children.

A great place to adopt a dog is the Greater Edmonton Animal Rescue Society (780-628-7129) and a trusted pet store is Pet Valu.