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Deciding to bring home a dog or a puppy is a big step in most individual's lives, and is not one that should be made on the spur of the moment. A dog is a living animal, that has both physical and emotional needs, just the same as any other type of pet. Dogs, through selective breeding, have become excellent companions, ideal for families, individuals and even for homes with small children. Understanding the complete commitment to having a dog as a pet will help you in deciding exactly what type of dog you will need, or even if a dog is the best type of pet for you and your family.
There are four main areas to consider when deciding if you are prepared to make the necessary commitment to owning a dog. These areas include the emotional commitment you must make, the environmental space and areas you must provide, the training and socialization activities necessary to own a well behaved and well adjusted dog, as well as the dog experience you may or may not have. In order to understand the various aspects of these commitments, it is important to consider them one at a time.
Emotional CommitmentWhen choosing a dog as a pet, it is absolutely important to honestly consider how much time you will have to spend with the dog. Many breeds, including small, medium, large and even giant sized dogs all require different amounts of affection and attention to be content and happy. It is essential to consider the amount of time that you will spend with the dog both as a puppy and as a mature dog, in order to make an appropriate decision as to what breed will work best with your lifestyle and routine. All breeds of dogs have various needs for attention, but there is not one breed that does well with less attention. In other words, the more attention the dog will get throughout its life, the better socialized and adjusted the dog will be.
This emotional commitment to the puppy or the dog continues throughout the life of the animal. Puppies do not need more attention than mature dogs, although they may need more training. The emotional connection that a dog has with its family is often referred to as a bond. There are many different breeds that bond very strongly with their owners. These breeds are very difficult to re-home, as they simply don't adjust well to new people in their lives. When you are bringing home a dog or a puppy, consider this - and remember that the dog will bond most closely to the first owner, and some breeds will only ever bond to one or two people in their lives.
EnvironmentalThe type of dog that you decide on will also be based on a commitment to their special needs and environmental needs. For example, a large, active breed of dog will typically need a lot of space to run, which may include a large fenced yard or an owner that is prepared to take one or more long and fairly intensive walks or jogs per day. A toy or small dog will typically need less space, but may need to be kept indoors - especially in areas where there is a lot of snow, or the temperature is very hot or cold. In addition, in hot climates breeds such as Pugs and other short muzzled dogs will need to be carefully monitored, as will heavy coated long haired dogs. Short haired breeds in cold climates will typically need to be kept in heated kennels, or in the house.
In addition to just monitoring the climate, it is also important to allow enough space for exercise, and commit to ensuring that the dog does get proper exercise on a daily basis. Even dogs that have a large yard will enjoy a daily walk, and this will also help with socialization.
Dogs require their own space in the house or apartment, as well. They can have their own crate, bed or blanket to sleep on or in, plus they will need toys, food and water dishes as well as a lead or leash and collar. Brushes, grooming supplies and first aid supplies are also a necessity.
Training and SocializationAll dogs require training and regular practice of their tricks and routines. Most breeds can benefit from regular socialization as well. Socialization includes introducing your dog to new people, animals and situations to help them remain calm and trusting of new activities and events. Without a commitment to ongoing training and socialization, dogs can become less compliant, more aggressive, and less tolerant of other people and animals. Training and socialization is very critical when puppies are young, but it is just as important with older dogs. With puppies or dogs, a commitment to an obedience training class or a special event training that is appropriate for the breed is an ideal way to deal with both training and socialization at the same time.
Many dogs every year are taken to shelters and rescues because the owners did not make a commitment to training and socialization and therefore were not able to control their dogs. This is really a tragedy for these poor dogs, as with a little effort they can often be re-homed and become excellent companion dogs to owners that commit to training.
Dog Experience or NotMany breeds are gentle, easy to train dogs that make excellent pets for first time dog owners. Some breeds require an owner with more experience in working with dogs, and those new to owning a dog should take into consideration the challenges of owning one of these dogs. Even first time owners can take on a more challenging breed, provided they commit to taking the puppy to obedience classes, and continue training and learning about how to work with the dog as it matures.
Owning a dog is a truly rewarding experience, but it is also one that requires commitment and dedication to the dog. When owners make the commitment to care for and love their dogs, as well as provide training and socialization, the result is a positive, wonderful companionship. Considering the commitment you and your family can make to your pet is the first step in deciding if a dog is right for your lifestyle and routine.
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