Keeping a dog as a pet

I don’t currently own a dog, I have done in the past both as a child and adult. I love dogs, especially the smaller toy breeds. Dogs can be a valuable member of a family as well as a good house guard. Dogs can bring lots of fun and make good company. However dogs, unlike many other pets can be very hard work.

Choosing the right dog

The first thing to remember before bringing a new dog into the home, is that a dog is for life. Many dogs will live a good 12-15 years with many even longer. Dogs can be a big commitment and expense.

It’s important to choose the right dog for your home and family. There are so many dog breeds to choose from, both pedigree and mixed/cross breeds. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and with varying temperaments and needs. If you only have a small home or flat then a small breed dog is probably a better choice than a large breed. Large breeds such as the German Shepherd need lots more space both in and out of the home. Remember all dogs begin as cute puppies, even the black German shepherd puppies start off tiny. But dogs grow, and grow fast.

Can you commit to a dog? If buying as a puppy then they need lots of time, effort and training. Can you be home to train a puppy, can you cope with a puppy peeing and pooping around your home for weeks? Do you have time to take a dog out for several walks per day? All dogs need a fair amount of exercise, even the smallest chihuahua.

Where to get a dog from

Once you have thought wisely as to whether a dog is right for you and your home, you may start to consider where to buy the dog from. There are many places where pet dogs can be found. Dog rescues and shelters usually have older dogs that need re-homing. These dogs may have been ill treated by previous owners or abandoned. The benefits of getting a dog from a centre include the initial cost which works out much less than a breeder. It’s also likely that the dog will have been health checked and given any relevant vaccines before going to the new owner. Being older rescue dogs does mean that breed choice and dog sex is limited.

Registered dog kennels offer pedigree puppies that can be seen with their mother (sometimes father). The benefits being that papers come with the puppy and usually first injections and checks. The downside is usually the cost. They seem to charge more than regular breeders. Also dog kennels are not always close by.

Private breeders seem to be the most popular choice. Usually an individual with one or two dogs of the same or mixed breeds. Mixed breeds being puppies born to two different dog breeds such as a German shepherd and husky mix which is a very large yet beautiful breed.

Private breeders usually place adverts selling puppies, in newspapers, online, Facebook and even in shop windows. The ads usually read something like – “Blue Nose Pitbull puppies for sale “If buying from a breeder it’s important to ask lots of questions, make sure you can see the puppies mother and always ask to see papers. Beware of illegal puppy farms and bad breeders too or you could end up with a very poorly dog.

Once your dog is home

Whatever dog you choose to bring home will need a few days of adjustment to its new family. Expect mess, poop, pee and shyness no matter what the dogs age. Even older dogs will mark their territory. Make sure you ask any previous owner about the dogs usual routine and most importantly their diet. There are so many brands of dog food dominating the shelves of pet stores and it can feel a little overwhelming trying to work out which is best for your dog. Either wet or dry foods are fine along with occasional dog treats. You may be wondering what other foods dogs can eat? Well there is lots of useful information online about this. Meat and certain bones are usually fine but a dog should never be given chocolate as it can make them severely unwell. Most adult dogs are fine with dinner left overs too! Can dogs eat lettuce? Probably not! It’s not the easiest thing for a dog to digest and to be honest; your new friend will most probably not want to anyway.

Dogs need lots of time, affection and care. So many dogs end up neglected and abandoned as owners get bored or find that they can no longer cope as the dog gets bigger.

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