Choosing a Puppy

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MY PUPPY

Everyone would love to own a puppy... as long as it remains a puppy.

 

Having a puppy is not just about filling a bowl with food and water, but caring for it in its every stage of its life, sharing its apprehensions, teaching it to take on the little challenges of the world, understanding its language and most of all ...being a parent it can look up to. With this, follows years of feeding a well balanced diet, adequate exercise, vaccinations and regular veterinary care, grooming, house training, socializing, obedience training and more. Though the list sounds pretty formidable, the pluses of owning a dog over rides all that.

The little waggerly tail will give you unconditional love and companionship every waking minute of his life. He will fill your home with laughter at his unbelievable antics, be your stress buster and teach you 'The Art of Living' with just a wag of his tail. Well, there are more reasons to own a puppy than the number of Web Pages on the worldwide web.

A dog remains a child for life! He looks up to you for his every need, feeding, training, health care and familial bonding. This I strongly believe, never get a dog unless the entire family (especially the woman of the house) is willing to share the responsibilities and will love him in their own special way. Because ... this living, thinking and feeling creature needs your love, care, time and commitment for the next 10 to 15 years.

ARE YOU READY FOR...

  • 10 to 15 years of caring and sharing.
  • Quality time to play and exercise the dog.
  • Puppies will demand plenty of your time. Dogs remain puppies until they are 2 years old.
  • Understanding the needs of each stage of its life
  • Yearly vaccinations
  • Oodles and oodles of patience for house and obedience training.
  • Prepare for separation anxiety.
  • Socializing with kids, people and other dogs. (In a household with children, it is better to get a puppy/dog after the children are at least 7 or 8 years old.)

DO YOU WANT A DOG FOR...

  • Companionship
  • A friend for your children
  • An exercise partner
  • A dog for training
  • Showing
  • Breeding
  • Guarding
  • Working

WRONG REASONS TO GET A DOG

  • For the children - the puppy is not a toy it requires a great deal of attention and training to become a pleasant companion in future years. A child cannot be given the responsibility of bringing up a dog.
  • To give as a gift - Are you sure the person you are gifting him to wants a puppy and loves dogs. Will you be able to choose the right breed for him or her?
  • To raise puppies and make money - Breeding a litter requires tremendous responsibility and knowledge, otherwise you could jeopardize the life of your dog.
  • Just for protection - Rather a security guard that a living creature that craves for your love and attention.
  • Because you feel sorry for it - The puppy will trust his/her life in your hands for the next 10 or 15 years. Can you live up to its expectations?
  • On impulse! - This is the worst thing you can do. What if you realize the puppy is a handful a few days or months later?

THE RIGHT DOG FOR YOU

Consider the following basic factors:

  • Size (when full grown)
  • Grooming & Shedding
  • Temperament
  • Activity Level - If you jog regularly or take long walks you can handle almost any breed providing the dog can keep up with you. If you are often out backpacking, you would want a four-legged friend to carry part of the weight, so for you a strong, but not necessarily large dog would be ideal. If you are above 50, and want a lap dog, large Saint Bernards are not for you. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, Retrievers and Working are a strict no.

BEST DOGS WITH KIDS

Labrador Retriever - They are intelligent and can take a lot of rough play and abuse from children without getting aggressive. These dogs require firm obedience training, but they make excellent pets.
Golden Retriever - They are reliable, loving and sociable dogs and will be able to take some rough handling from children without getting too upset.
Basset Hound - Though lazy and stubborn, they also have a very gentle and sweet disposition. They adore children and love to be around them.
Beagle - They are affectionate, intelligent and lively dogs, best suited for children above the age of six, but somewhat adaptable.
Bulldog - They are good with children above the age of six, if children are taught to respect them. They are good natured, but very strong dogs.

DOG BREEDS & YOUR PERSONALITY

Most people buy the same breed their family had when they were kids or are attracted to the one that is seen in the most recent television commercial, the cute one next door or the most expensive imported breed. Select a breed that will compliment your lifestyle, not be an irritant (eg. a regular barker in anapartment) given your circumstances and environment and is financially viable.

  • If you are an assertive owner perhaps you can handle more dominating breeds of dogs, whereas naturally passive people should avoid dominating dogs.
  • If in an active household that has with lots of visitors, you should select dogs that are comfortable with commotion and are less aggressive.
  • Unless you are looking for a challenge and have a great deal of time and patience, it is preferable to select a breed that has a high natural desire to obey and please humans.
  • Low-energy owners should choose a dog requiring little exercise as many breeds of dogs require a great deal of exercise in order to prevent behaviour problems.
    If prone to allergies or asthma, select a dog that sheds less and has less grooming requirements.
  • If you have limited time and patience for housebreaking, you might do better with an older puppy or adult dog that is already trained.
  • Select a dog that does well with children (toy breeds and smaller dogs are not good choices for kids).

SELECTING A BREEDER

Just as every person is different, so are dogs. Your goal is choosing a particular puppy that matches your personality, and not your image of the perfect dog. 

Choosing a Puppy: The best way to choose a puppy is to get down and play with the litter! Get to know each pup. Walk around, see which pups follow. Throw a ball to see which ones go after it. Watch them interact with each other to see which one seems dominant, which submissive. If you crouch down, friendly pups will usually run to your feet. When picked up and supported well, they normally won't fight or struggle to get down. Narrow it down to a few puppies and choosing one will be easier. Don't feel like you have to hurry and choose. This is a life long commitment.

THE HEALTHY PUPPY

Yes, the noticeably overweight puppy looks cute, but is not the one you should choose. Look beyond...

  • See both the mother and father of the puppy to know what your puppy will look like when fully grown.
  • Avoid picking up a pup of an aggressive mother or father. How will you know? The mother of the pups should not be possessive of her pups after they are 6 weeks old. This temperament could be hereditary.
  • A pup is ready to leave his/her mother only after he is 8 weeks old. Take a pup away from his mother before this and he could have problems of socialization. Once over 10 weeks old the pup may become 'dog dependent.'
  • The environment in which the animal lives and matures will greatly affect its behaviour and personality as an adult.
  • You should be able to pick up a puppy and handle him without him struggling in your arms to get away.
  • Then check his/her reaction to sound, sudden loud voice, etc.
  • The puppy should be outgoing, begging to be picked up, competing for attention, and love being held and played with.
  • The puppy should not look pot-bellied. It could be an indication of worm infestation, especially if the puppy's coat feels harsh and dry and looks dull.
  • Inspect the puppy closely and make sure it is clean and there is no sign of fleas.
  • Check the puppy you choose to make sure his eyes and ears are clean and free of any debris. Eyes should be bright, clear, and look straight ahead.
  • The ear canals should be clean and odour-free. A build-up of wax and dirt, head shaking, or tenderness could indicate ear mites or infection.
  • The puppy should have a shiny clean coat.
  • His/her gums should be a bright pink; a pale colour could indicate anemia or  worms.
  • The teeth should be clean and straight.
  • The genitals should be clean. Both testicles should be present in the male.
  • Check if the puppy's legs are straight and well formed, the toes well arched and that he/she runs without lameness.
  • Ask for a record of vaccinations, suggested diet, and registration papers for a pure breed.  

MALE Vs FEMALE DOG

It is a myth that male dogs are more affectionate or female dogs are more protective of their masters. Most of these characteristics depend on the breed or on the individual dog. When spayed/neutered many undesirable behaviours can be avoided and there is almost no significant difference displayed in their characteristics.

The Male Dog: Yes, an unneutered male at times can be quite a handful. They are often prone to roaming and fighting, at least more than females are. They would like to mark their territory with a lift of their leg, sometimes even indoors. If they catch the scent of an unspayed female, they will do anything to be there rather than with you.

Some avoid the male dog for his embarrassing characteristics of licking his genitals or the unneutered male humping pillows, toys, other dogs or anyone's legs.

Male Temperament: Definitely, the male dog is more boisterous and playful than the female. But, the male is usually an affectionate slob.  He'll be more exuberant and more demanding of attention, never getting enough.  People with male dogs believe that they also tend to be more steadfast, reliable and less moody.  No matter the age, he'll be more likely to act silly and puppy-like.  On the other hand he's more likely to try to dominate you, particularly during his first year or so.  He'll be more easily distracted during training. Also male dogs mentally mature more slowly than females.

The Female Dog: One drawback in unspayed females is heat. It occurs twice a year and makes it almost impossible to take the female dog outside without meeting males. Many a female dog roams around in search of a mate during this period. Female dogs fight less because their hierarchy is established by age rather than strength. The older one is normally deferred to. In purebreds, females are often smaller than males and normally more expensive.

The female, on the other hand has periods of being 'in heat' unless she is spayed.  During this time she can leave a bloody discharge on carpets, couches, or anywhere she goes.  She will be particularly moody and emotional during this time.  A walk outside during this period can become hazardous if male dogs are in the vicinity. In addition, you should consider whether you want to take on the work, responsibility and expense of raising a litter. They are as lovable as the males and a mite more sober and calm.

Female Temperament: The female is generally much more discriminating than the male.  She can be affectionate but when she's had enough she'll move away.  She's usually quicker to learn and less distracted during training.  She is less likely to wage a dominance battle with you but can be cunning and resourceful in getting her own way.  She is much more prone to mood swings than the male. 

But when it comes to being a companion, you can be rest assured, either sex makes a wonderful pet. 


 
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