Before you buy that dog…

Where does one begin the search for a new dog!  Before you adopt the newest four – legged member into your family, stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What size dog is going to work best in my household?
  2. What is my lifestyle like….meaning how much time each day will I be able to allocate to my dog?
  3. Do I want a puppy (and all that comes with it) or should I adopt an older dog?
  4. Do I want a dog that is more of a lap dog (low energy) or do I want a dog that will run/exercise (high energy) with me?
  5. How much dog hair am I willing to vacuum up daily?
  6. Will this dog need to be good with children and other dogs or is that not going to be an issue? (All dogs should be socialized to the best of their abilities, but some breeds tend to be better as family dogs).
  7. Do I have the available funds to care for this dog and his/her needs (food, medical, training, etc)?

Before you invest in a dog, the wisest thing you can do is research, research, research!  Too often people purchase a dog without any thought at all and unfortunately, the unsuspecting owner  often ends up having taken on more than he or she bargained for. So, do yourself a favor and open a few books, Google a few sites and ask a few dog savvy people their opinions of specific breeds prior to getting a dog.

It is important to remember that dogs were bred for various purposes so make is easy on yourself and find one that will work easily into your lifestyle.  A good place to begin your research of specific breeds is the American Kennel Club. The AKC has categorized dogs into 7 groups.  Each group has distinct qualities that help define what breeds in that group were meant to do.  The groups are: Sporting, Herding, Non-Sporting, Working, Terrier, Toy and Hound.   One of the benefits of categorizing the dogs into groups is to help potential owners find a dog with qualities that they will enjoy. After all, the goal is to provide a beneficial relationship for both dog and owner.  For more information on specific breed characteristics check out the AKC website at:

FYI – The Westminster Kennel Club Dog show is on February 13th and 14th. It is another great way to check out breeds and watch the different groups in action.  For more information go to:

Dog Training Myth #3

Myth #3: Why bother training a puppy.  Dogs don’t learn anything until they are over 6 months of age.

Truth:  Yipes!  This one is not only incorrect, but can create some really difficult issues for the owner.  Just as human babies begin to take information in from day 1, puppies do the same. In fact, their all-important “socialization period” is primed and ready within the first 2 months.   It is vital that puppies are exposed, (at levels to which they are comfortable with) to as many different people, well-mannered dogs and experiences as possible.  Aside from socialization, they can start learning basic obedience too.  Most puppy classes start dogs off at 8 weeks of age!

Myths About Dog Training #2

Myth #2:  My dog doesn’t seem to be able to learn anything. He is stupid, dominant or stubborn.

  Dogs are similar to humans in the way that they learn. We all have strengths and weaknesses and some grasp concepts quicker than others.  The same is true with dogs.  Keep in mind that many dogs were bred for specific purposes and others may have been bred more for “show”.  In any case, all dogs can learn, the trick is to meet them at the level that they can handle. We would never ask a child in kindergarten to study calculus, and we shouldn’t expect a young puppy to behave like a 5 year old dog.  Dogs need appropriate motivation, consistency and levels of testing in which they can succeed.  Something is missing in the teaching method if your dog is having trouble.  In other words, the human needs to make the adjustments in order for the dog to succeed.

If a dog refuses to perform a behavior make certain there isn’t a medical problem or causing the dog pain. Check the hips, legs or any area for possible pain. Finally, work in small increments.  Catch them doing what you want and reward them for it.  They will be more apt to do it again.