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How To Choose The Right Dog For The Family

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Whatever the reason for wanting a pet dog, it is important to understand that in unsuitable, uncongenial surroundings a dog will be desperately unhappy and not show its true potential. If the dog feels threatened or insecure, this could manifest in all sorts of behavioural problems. So, the first question we must ask ourselves is whether our lifestyle and personal circumstances will allow us to keep a dog, and which would be the right breed to suit us. Dogs fall into several different categories and each one has its own special attributes:
Sheep-herding dogs include all those breeds that have developed from sheep and cattle herding, including mountain dogs and shepherd dogs. They are particularly responsive to all kinds of training such as police work, guide dogs and drug searches. Will require plenty of work to keep them mentally and physically fit. Most are long coated and require regular grooming.
Guard and utility dogs are the largest and most powerful of the working dogs and need a disciplined regime to keep them happy. Not always social with other dogs and very protective of their home and family.
Terriers are small hunting dogs with very large personalities. Temperamental and lively they like lots of activity and stimulation going on around them. Can be a bit yappy – and sometimes snappy.
Hounds and greyhounds are the aristocrats for the dog world. In spite of their hunting instincts they have a gentle and non-aggressive nature; all of them are very affectionate towards their own people – and aloof with strangers. All hounds are self willed and will seldom be strictly obedient.
Gundogs (including Labradors, spaniels and retrievers) are friendly, active, faithful and, when well-trained, an obedient companion.
Large companion dogs (including Dalmatians, chow-chows and standard poodles) make excellent house dogs, although they need plenty of garden space and daily activity. Many dogs that fall into this category are self-assertive, independent and stubborn, so it is essential that you do your homework before acquiring your puppy.
Small companion breeds cater for those lovers of larger dogs such as terriers, spaniels, poodles and greyhounds, who can find in this group their favourite breeds in miniature. They do need as much attention to their exercise and feeding as their larger relatives and should not be spoiled with sweets and titbits.
One of the best resources for helping you to decide which breed would suit you is Dogs Today magazine, and each issue contains an A-Z of breeds. The directory gives breed advice, life expectancy, any potential health problems and a character sketch. Each month features an in-depth profile for a particular dog and these are currently available for 129 breeds in the form of photocopies, pdf files or back issues. The breeders are listed for giving advice and so are the rescue groups if you feel you would be better adopting an adult dog in your favourite breed.
Some dogs find themselves in rescue centres through no fault of their own. Many are pedigrees, some cross-breeds and others are classed as mongrels – but all are waiting for loving homes. The advantage is that you are seeing the fully-grown dog and the kennel staff can help you to decide whether it is suitable for you and/or the family. Although the staff are keen to re-home their charges, they will actively discourage you from adopting that particular pet if they don’t think the match is right for the dog.
A badly-behaved dog will soon get itself, and its owner, into a lot of trouble. If you are uncertain about puppy training, look in the local newspaper for dog training classes. These are great fun for the dogs (who learn to socialise) and for their owners, who also make lots of new friends.
A well-behaved family dog is one of the world's greatest treasures ... and so are those who are not so well-behaved! All a dog wants from life is a secure and loving home, a daily walk, a warm bed and regular meals. In exchange you will have a lifetime of love and loyalty.
Visit the puppy in its home environment and ask to see both parents if possible. A responsible breeder will not object to your request.
Do not, under any circumstances, buy a puppy from a dealer.
Never leave babies and toddlers alone with a dog


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