Be sure to take into consideration the exercise area available for a dog. What amount of yard space do you have? Will you be able to let the dog run freely in a fenced-in yard or will you have to walk it on a leash?
If walking is the rule, make an honest estimate as to how much time you are willing to spend accompanying the dog and where you can take it to relieve itself and to exercise. Consider as well whether you can share this responsibility with children, a mate, or even a paid dog walker.
In some cities, dogs are forbidden in every park; other cities offer dog-runs where animals can amble if restrained by a leash. Even in cities where dogs are welcome to run freely in parks, there are likely to be laws that require owners to clean up after their pets, a chore that some people find unseemly and distasteful.
Finally, try to match the temperament of the dog with the disposition of the person it is intended for. For instance, a nervous person with limited living space might be happy to own a dog that barks readily-a Fox Terrier or a Miniature Pinscher-to alert him to every suspicious noise. An athletic person will choose a muscular animal to jog with: a Boxer or Collie, for example. A fastidious housekeeper would not be happy with a longhaired, soft-mouthed breed.
Its drooling and seasonal shedding would probably prove irksome, so it would be wiser to choose a short-haired dog with a pointed muzzle. In certain cases a dog whose temperament contrasts with the master's is a suitable choice. For instance, some parents give a sedentary child a lively animal. An overly boisterous child, on the other hand, would probably benefit from a calm, eventempered companion.
Should you buy a mature dog-one that has been house-trained, neutered or spayed, and is past the age of chewing on chair legs and shoes? Advertisements for such dogs appear at veterinary offices and animal shelters, in newspapers and on public bulletin boards. Some dog fanciers warn against this way of obtaining a dog; the animal may have been mistreated.
Others insist that you can readily tell if a dog has been poorly or maliciously handled: It will cringe or lunge or bark to excess. Few canine psychological disorders are subtle.
Furthermore, these adult dogs may be cherished family pets that have to be given away-perhaps the family is leaving the country or moving to smaller accommodations; perhaps a child has developed an allergic reaction to pet hairs.
If you like the dog-and if the dog likes you-it is nonetheless a wise precaution to find out the name of the dog's veterinarian, then to visit his or her office to examine the animal's health records for yourself.
Should you choose a male rather than a bitch? In theory, the female is more attached to the home, while the male in some cases protects it better. To help you decide, you should remember that with modern contraceptive methods you can reduce the number of the bitch's seasons in heat and pregnancies. It is also worth remembering that males unable to satisfy their sexual needs may become habitual runaways.