Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Think Before You Choose a Dog

I often wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious sect. Rita Rudner
Do you want to improve your life in a number of ways? Then get yourself a dog.
The medical profession has proved that owning a dog will lower your blood pressure and cholestrol, and lighten your stress levels. You will recuperate quicker after an operation or serious illness if you have a dog to talk to and that will wag its tail while you stroke it. Having a dog should reduce the number of visits you make to the doctor and give you a sense of mental well-being.
It has been proved that permitting the elderly or the sick to pet an animal brings huge rewards. Somehow the uncritical attention you receive while stroking a pet will do wonders for your health, both physical and mental.
Now you have decided, you must decide what breed of dog would suit your lifestyle best. Do you live in a small flat or on a large farm? This will be a consideration.
There are over a hundred registered breeds of dogs. Here are some of the more popular.
Labradors are versatile dogs. They are known for their ability as guide dogs. Their affable personality combined with a gentle, intelligent, energetic good nature is a perfect combination. They crave attention, are easy-going with strangers so that they pose no threat to people encountered while going about their daily duties. They are excellent retrievers, and enjoy holding objects, even hands and arms in their mouth. They are wonderful family dogs, and are highly protective of their territory.
German Shepherds (also known as Alsatians) were originally used in sheep and cattle herding. They are intelligent and train easily. They are used in the military and police and as guide dogs. They are great pets and very protective of their owners.
Boxers are playful and energetic. They are perfect as children's pets because they have an extended puppyhood and are not considered to be adult until they are three. They are known to be obedient and have strong personalities. It is advisable to start their training as soon as possible.
Rotweillers were known to have been used by the Romans as watchers for the cattle. Because of their incredible strength and intelligence they have been used as police and military dogs. They are fearless and frown when they are alert. They are active and playful.
Poodles are excellent companions and are loyal. They are quiet but require more effort in training than other breeds. Maintenance can be tedious because of their curly hair.
Dachshunds - also known as sausage dogs - enjoy chasing and hunting. They are playful and loyal and love to chase any small animals in sight. They have keen senses.
Beagles have a strong sense of smell and are used for hunting. They are good-tempered, but training could be a problem as they are strong willed and stubborn.
This covers only a few of the more popular breeds. There are many pavement specials who will give you years of pleasure and they can be less prone to sickness than the pure breeds.
I do suggest that you consider all aspects of the dog you choose and not take it into the family home because it looks such a cute puppy! Remember, it is a long term relationship.
Do you fancy obtaining a puppy with all the complimentary training problems, although you will have a stronger bond with a puppy you have reared from about 10 weeks. But if you don't fancy getting up nights, having your Persian carpet soiled and your furniture gnawed, perhaps you should settle on an adult. It may take longer to bond, but once this has happened you will have a friend for life.
When you bring the puppy home, introduce it to all the members of your family to familiarize it with its new housemates.
The question of naming your puppy is a serious business. It's name must be easily recognized so should not be more than two syllables long.. Don't give is a funny name that means something to you. You will feel a fool when you have to call the dog. Be careful that the name does not sound similar to basic commands like 'no' or 'down' . It is suggested that you get to know your pet before giving it a name. This should avoid mistakes.
Don't be in a hurry to choose a permanent spot for the bed. A dog has definite views about where it should sleep, so give your new pet time to explore the house and find its favourite spot.
A puppy will have to be monitored for its first few weeks in your home. It will need to be taken outside on a regular basis to teach it where to do its business. It should have a personal bed that is always kept in the same place. When it starts to chew your furniture, give it a face-cloth that has been rolled up and kept in the freezer. This replacement for whatever it is demolishing will ease any pain from teething and distract its attention away from forbidden objects.
You may find it useful to take it for puppy training if you have any doubts about your competence to perform this important task yourself, or feel you don't have the time. Choose your training instructor with care and make sure you will be allowed to take part in the sessions.
It will need to have regular vaccinations to prevent sickness or possible death from the many diseases than can attack a dog
You must not overlook the many services that can be provided by a dog. Assistance dogs serve a vital part of many people's lives. They are not only 'tools' that assist a deficiency but friends who provide companionship for the duration of their lives.
These assistance dogs fall into a number of categories.
Guide dogs who assist the visually impaired
Hearing dogs who are specially trained to nudge their owners when they hear certain noises such as telephones, doorbells and hooters.
Mobility assist dogs help pull wheelchairs and carry light equipment for their owners in backpacks.
Seizure alert dogs are trained to hit a button that contacts assistance in case of a seizure or cardiac attack. They do not leave their owners' side.
Psychiatric service dogs provide an emotional security blanket to those who may have mental illnesses and phobias. They also help autistic people stay focused.
Finally there are combo dogs who are trained to assist those with multiple disabilities.
There is a great deal of controversy nowadays about the quality of pet foods. (This industry generates about $40 billion yearly.) There is little regulation over the manufacture and labels are confusing. For instance, what are meat by-products? Are they bone scrapings, cartilage, tallow andor some unthinkable items? (I will be happy to email you an article setting out the possibilities, or you could go to http://www.petfoodaudit.com)
And, of course, you will want to ensure that your pet and your home are kept free of fleas. With a little effort on your part, this should not involve throwing out all your furniture, including carpets and curtains, and starting over from scratch. There are a number of products obtainable from your vet that kill off fleas and ticks efficiently. They need to be applied on a regular basis. The dog can also be bathed and dipped.
It is not enough to love your pet. They also require exercise on a regular basis, especially if they are of the larger breeds. Do you have the time to take them for regular walks, in a park, or in and around your property?
These are all necessary considerations before you rush out and buy a dog. A pet is a long term investment. But, for me, no trouble or problem is big enough to make me get rid of the plethora of dogs and cats we own and have owned throughout our lives.


LetRVoiceBHeard said...

Very good writing. Although I would like to add to your service animal part especially with Psychiatric Service Dogs. Many people think of them as just an emotional blanket. (ie Emotional support animal) however their more then that. These dogs are trained to relentlessly wake their handler, bring meds, call for help, etc. Didn't want people to get confused by those Emotional Support Animals which has no specific tasks with psychiatric service animals.

Mrst said...

Thanks for the comment. It is wonderful what dogs can be trained to do as well as being a great companion.