How to choose the right dog for your family

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When you’re ready to add a dog to your family, it’s important that you do your homework before you choose your four legged family member. Don’t ever buy a dog on impulse or it may lead to heartache for both you and the dog.

There are many factors to consider before you choose a dog.

1. How is your budget? Big dogs eat more food, and if they become ill, they need more medication as it is usually calculated on body weight. If you’re a bit tight for cash, don’t choose a large dog that will cost more to keep than you can afford.

2. How much space do you have? If you live in an apartment, a Great Dane or a St Bernard can be disastrous for your home décor. Dogs love to be inside with us. Be realistic, and choose a dog that won’t take up too much space inside your home.

3. Different breeds and mixes need different amounts of exercise. If you’re a couch potato, don’t choose a working breed. The dog will be miserable, and his boredom will lead to holes in the backyard and laundry pulled off the line. These dogs are also very intelligent, and you do need to spend time training them to keep them mentally stimulated. If you have a busy lifestyle, you’ll be much better off with a dog that enjoys sharing the couch with you. It may even be worth getting two dogs to keep each other company if you’re out a lot.

4. Do you have children in the house? Young children can accidentally injure small dogs, so avoid choosing any of the toy breeds or any tiny mixed breeds, for their own safety. Similarly, large dogs can inadvertently knock a child over and hurt them.

5. Should you choose a puppy or an adult dog? Again, this depends on how much time you have, and your budget. A puppy needs more frequent vaccinations and neutering, so they can be a bit more expensive. They also need more of a time investment to train them, and teach them where they can go to the toilet. On the other hand, an adult dog may have already been house-trained, and may also have been neutered and vaccinated. Rescue dogs from an animal shelter can be a real bargain, and these dogs have lots of love to give.

Ultimately, whatever dog you choose, you must make sure you can meet his physical, mental and emotional needs. If you get it wrong, it is the dog that suffers the most, and that’s not fair. Give some serious thought to what you want in a dog, speak to other dog owners, breeders, vets and trainers to gain some insight into what breeds might be suitable for you. Only then make the decision on what type of dog suits your family, because when you choose the right dog for you, you have a loving and loyal friend for life.

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