Anyone who intends to buy a dog should be aware that this is an important decision. A dog will not only make changes in a family's everyday life, it will also, at times, cause problems.
A dog is a living creature that needs its owner's presence and care; the master or mistress must accept responsibility for it on a permanent basis. In return, the dog will provide much joy as a loyal, affectionate, and faithful companion.
You must determine whether you are in a position to cater to the animal's various needs for as long as it lives-which is to say, generally from 10 to 15 years.
If the millions of people who buy dogs each year carefully examined how the acquisition would disturb their routines, some would change their minds, and there would be fewer abandoned pets. You must also consider the other expenses involved apart from the purchase price: food, grooming, veterinary care.
Criteria for choosing dog
Your life-style, your activities, and your age should influence your choice of a dog. You must also decide what you intend the dog to be: a pet, a watch-dog, a guard dog, or a hunting-dog.
In the country, and in some suburbs, adequate space is no problem. City dwellers, however, are well advised to choose a medium-size animal since a big dog is likely to cause damage and be unhappy in a small home.
A Great Dane or a Saint Bernard, for example, needs 150 square meters (180 square yards) of space. It also needs at least an hour's walk every day, and must be allowed to play freely out doors a minimum of one day a week.
On the other hand, even small dogs can make poor urban pets. Any type of dog that has been bred to hunt-whether for rodents, birds, or foxes-needs to run regularly.
The Basset Hound, for example, is a hunter of hare by instinct. Not only is this short, stodgy-looking dog capable of great speed and endurance, it needs the space and time to exercise effectively.
The Beagle as well is a deceptive pet. Beyond needing the chance to run freely off-leash, it needs to track game. Thus, a Beagle may disappear until its hunting instincts are satisfied.
Toy dogs that bark zestfully, if not nervously, do not belong in thin walled apartment buildings where foot steps in the corridor or in the upstairs unit could confuse any animal with a vigilant sense of territory. For that matter, a dog that barks too readily is a poor choice for an apartment or any household where infants and children nap.
Since the owner's presence is vital to the dog's psychological well-being, you should not acquire a puppy if you intend to leave it alone all day. The fact is that in such conditions you will not be able to raise the dog properly.
The age and disposition of a pet owner must be taken into account. For a young child, there are virtual nursemaids such as the Briard, the Old English Sheepdog, the Labrador Retriever, and the Boxer. They adapt well to family life provided they are given as much exercise as necessary.
And, while they play with the youngest of children, they also protect them. Older children who are able to care for the animal themselves should be given a short-haired dog, which requires a minimum of grooming.
Elderly people must consider their own physical strength. High-strung animals can cause their masters to fall by leaping upon them or tugging on the leash. Yorkshire Terriers, Pekingese, Toy and Miniature Poodles, and Dachshunds are very popular because they are not bothersome and are easy to transport.
But it all depends on what you are looking for. Watch-dogs and guard dogs are an effective deterrent against burglars and purse snatchers.