How to Pick the Right Pooch for You
Dr. Heather Wood
When you are looking for a new pup for the first time, there are many questions that you may have, but may not think of until after that puppy in the window has tugged those heart strings and the new edition to your family is sitting on your lap in the car going home. Now that Fido has become part of the family, he or she needs stuff. Thoughts of dog toys, beds, a crate, food, and usually, lastly, a veterinarian race through your head while en route to your home. Then panic sets in, so you detour to the local pet store. Toys, food, bed, a crate, perhaps make the panic list while you are standing inthe store holding your new pup, then the help comes … If this is a scenario that seems all too real, you have made some critical errors. The key to getting a pooch and having a successful integration into your family is planning. (We will get back to this later.)
So with all the different breeds, mixed breeds, and designer breeds out there, what is the right one for you? Well, take a long look at your life style. Ask questions like: Where do you live? (house, apartment, condo) Do you have a yard? Is the yard fenced? Do you live on a busy street? Are you in the city, or out in a rural area and do you have access to parks or sidewalks? Do you want to get out and go on walks, or perhaps turn the pup loose in a field, or maybe just want a friend on the couch? Lots of questions! Pick a breed or combination of breeds that fits your lifestyle and what you want to do with your new friend. For example, if you live in an apartment and have a relatively busy life, you probably don’t want to get a Springer Spaniel, Labrador, Beagle, or Great Dane. The Springer Spaniel and Beagle are hunting dogs and will need to have access to lots of exercise. Being confined to an apartment and not getting enough exercise could result in undesirable behaviors (anxiety, hyperactivity) and eventually, health problems like obesity. Smaller breeds, like Poodles, Pomeranians, or Chihuahuas might be good choices for this scenario. Now, if you have a house or bigger apartment and don’t mind getting out andtaking a good walk every day, a Retriever, Terrier, or Boxer-type breed might fit your situation better. The point is to plan and get some good advice from an educated and appropriately trained animal professional.
Group classes are fun and positive.
This last sentence is the key. Remember from the beginning; now let’s talk planning. Who would be someone that has appropriate training and education in the matters of all things dog related? Well, at the top of that list would be your local veterinarian, not Google, or Dr. Google, and probably not, the young person working, part-time retail, in the pet store. He or she will take full advantage of selling you all the stuff you need last minute when you are standing there in a panic with your new family member. Number one on your list of things to do when looking for a pooch is establish a relationship with your local veterinarian. They have been educated in all the areas of your new pup’s health, from nutrition to preventative care. Ask your veterinarian what breeds would mesh well with your lifestyle and current living condition. Nutrition is a key component to your dog’s health; don’t buy the hype with the fad diets that use all the buzz words, like grain free, raw, raw-infused, gluten free, all natural, etc. These are all terms and diets that are geared towards human fad diets; they have no relevance or scientific basis in canine health. Your veterinarian isn’t going to sell you a brand of food; they are going to recommend a food that is going to be beneficial to your pup’s health. Please remember that your local veterinarian is there to help you and your new pup through all life stages; puppy to adult to senior to the final day. Proper nutrition, vaccinations, and preventative care will ensure that you and your pup will have a good, long, healthy life together. Build a relationship with your local veterinarian, trust their expertise, and allow them to help you plan for the new furry family member.
Four Year Old Black Labrador Retriever Scharley and Dr. Heather Wood