I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained, I stand and look at them long and long. - Walt Whitman
Learn More About Canine Care
Man’s best friend makes for a good pet, but how do you decide what kind of dog is best for your family? The old idea “wait for a dog to pick you” is an interesting one, but not based on a successful family situation. Let’s look at the facts.
Size matters. If you live in an apartment, condo, or small home, or even if you travel a lot, a large breed dog may not be right for you. Large dogs eat a lot; require grooming; need room to sleep, play, wander, and get comfortable inside your home; and room to exercise, eliminate, and play outside. And a large dog needs lots of attention and training if you want to keep your friends, family, and neighbors happy. A big puppy that jumps on the neighbor’s preschooler, however fun-loving and well-intended, is not safe. An animal you cannot control or becomes aggressive can create anxious situations between friends and family and can even cause legal problems.
Age matters. Raising a young animal requires many more hours of attention and care than an adult dog. Puppies take time: housetraining, socialization, obedience training, more frequent feeding, exercise, and supervision. If the members of your household are away much of the day, a puppy would suffer from being alone so much and the human–animal bond may be disrupted. Adopting an adult dog may be a better solution. Older pets are often housetrained, know some basic commands, and with a little attention usually adapt easily to a new environment.
Health matters. Choose a puppy or adult dog that has no signs of illness, a clean and shiny coat, clear eyes, and does not appear too fat or thin. Look for an active, friendly animal that is comfortable around you without signs of fear or aggression. The first step in adopting a new dog is to make a wellness appointment within 24 hours of bringing the animal home. A thorough veterinary check-up may reveal issues you could not see, and addressing those concerns may begin at once. Vaccines, parasite prevention and treatments, dental care, spay or neuter, training, and nutritional needs are all basic care to be addressed immediately.
Safety matters. Your pet’s safety is important and may be addressed in a variety of ways: health, training, and environment. Preventing disease keeps your dog safe and may well keep your family safe from zoonotic diseases. The CDC offers simple and clear information about this subject on their website: Healthy Pets, Healthy People advises pet owners about general animal care and protecting humans from their pet’s diseases. Training is essential for the safety of others from your dog’s behavior, as well as the ultimate safety of your pet from being destroyed for aggressive or inappropriate actions. An untrained dog may even run away or out into traffic, putting themselves and other dogs or humans at risk of an accident. And environmental factors can cause accidental choking, poisoning, electrocution, or other injuries to your dog. “Dog-proof” your home by getting down on the floor and checking for hazards that might be within your pet’s reach. Use only quality equipment such as collars, leashes, and gates or crates to keep your animal safe. Protect your dog from other animals by keeping appropriate containment, such as dog runs or fencing.
For additional help in choosing the right dog for you, enjoy this brochure from AVMA, What You Should Know About Selecting A Dog.. Or visit the AAHA HealthyPet website for a variety of articles about dog care and training.
For a variety of fun activities to share with your canine companion, visit the Dog Play website. People and Pet Fitness is another great site, offering ideas and guidance for people and their dogs from a professional fitness trainer.
The professionals at Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital are here to support and guide you in maintaining the health, happiness, and longevity of your pet and to strengthen the relationship between you. If you have adopted a puppy, or are considering a young pet, visit our Puppies and Kittens page for more guidance.