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Tips for Choosing a Dog
- By Michael Russell

You have made the decision to include a dog in your life. You understand the commitment and are ready to give the time, money and energy necessary to make it work for you and your future pet. Since you have already made this decision, it's time to choose the type of dog. Do you want your dog to be big or small; male or female; a puppy or an older dog? These are just a few factors you should consider. Other factors include what are your needs in a pet and what kind of lifestyle do you have. Are you getting a dog for companionship or for a specific reason? Some acquire dogs for hunting, for guarding their homes or as a playmate and teaching responsibility to children. If you know the specific reason why you want a dog, it will narrow down the choices of breeds since every breed of dog has a specific use.

What is the activity level of your family? Are you always on the go or do you mostly stay home ? You don't want a dog that is very hyperactive if you prefer quiet evenings at home. If you are the type that likes the great outdoors, then a dog that prefers indoors in the air conditioning or by the heater probably isn't a good choice. Make sure the personality of the dog meets the requirements of your lifestyle.

How much room is available for your future pet? Do you live in an apartment or a house with a yard? If you have a good-sized yard then accommodating any size or breed of dog shouldn't be an issue. However, if you only have a very small yard or live in an apartment make sure to consider this when making your decision. Since a dog that likes to run a lot may not be happy if there isn't enough space.

Determine how much grooming you are willing to do. Dogs with long hair need more attention to grooming. Their hair can get matted when they are outside in tall grass or weeds. They require frequent trimming and baths to keep their coats healthy. Daily brushing is also necessary for a healthy coat. Short hair dogs are easier to care for. Trimmings are infrequent if needed at all. Brushing and baths are on an as needed basis instead of a near-daily requirement. Shedding occurs for every breed but some types of dogs only shed a couple times a year where others shed year round.

Do you want a puppy or an older dog? The disadvantage to getting a puppy is that it's nearly impossible to tell what its personality will be like later. Training includes housebreaking, using a leash, teaching verbal commands, not biting or chewing on furniture and more. Puppies take a lot of time to teach and train during their first year of life. Being able to teach and train your puppy to your specifications can be an advantage also if you're willing to spend the time it takes. Older dogs may or may not be trained easily depending on whether they've ever had training before. Some might be housebroken which is an advantage as is them not chewing on everything. Also with an older dog, you will be able to determine its personality and whether they will be calm or rowdy.

All it takes is a little time and some research to decide what kind of dog will work for your family. Hopefully the breed of dog you decide on will bring many good years of friendship.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Dogs

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