There is a reason why they say dogs are man’s best friend; nothing beats coming home to a wagging tail and friendly face. Prior to dog ownership, however, it is important to understand the responsibilities that coincide with being a canine owner. Before choosing a breed of dog, it is important to recognize: the affect a dog’s size will have on your personal space; how much attention a dog requires; costs associated with owning a dog, including veterinarian expenses and food; and the potential that residents within the home may be allergic to dogs. You will also want to decide whether you want an indoor or outdoor dog, and contemplate the supplies necessary for each. An indoor dog may need a bed located in a warmer, quiet place as well as a doggy-door to access the outside. An outside dog will need a house that protects them from bad weather, keeping them dry, as well as a shaded area to keep cool on hot days.
The average lifespan for dogs is between 8 and 16 years. During their lifetimes, dogs will require breed-specific grooming, including nail-trimming and bathing, which should be routinely performed multiple times throughout the year. Also, in most cities, pets are required to be licensed and can only receive a license after meeting certain health requirements, typically regarding vaccination. Be sure to check with local government agencies about their particular requirements, prior to getting your dog.
Supplies a new dog owner will need
Collar with ID tags.
Pet urine cleaner.
Sturdy and safe toys.
Selecting the right breed
When selecting your new dog, its breed will play a large role in the dog’s temperament and needs. The following AKC groups give information about each classification:
Herding Group – possess the ability to control other animals and are often used on farms. For pet owners not needing other animals herded, these dogs are very easy to train and will often herd people or children if other animals are not present. They make great family dogs.
Hound Group –skilled at hunting because of their remarkable scenting ability. Have great stamina and can run long distances. Some breeds “bay” and potential owners should consider the baying noise prior to purchasing one of these dogs.
Miscellaneous Group – various other breeds that the AKC recognizes but does not classify further. Temperaments vary.
Non-sporting Group – varied personalities but are generally strong dogs. Not as active as the sporting group.
Sporting Group – instinctively active and highly alert. Skilled at finding game in water, woods, or brush. Ideal for hunting. Require regular, high-energy exercise.
Terrier Group – have a large amount of energy and are quite "opinionated" at times. Were originally bred to hunt and kill rodents. Require a strong-willed owner to properly train them and keep them in line.
Toy Group – small and are perfect for families living in tight spaces. Some breeds can be aggressive and intimidating towards a potential threat. Much easier to control than large dogs.
Working Group – generally used for pulling sleds, executing water rescue, or guarding an owner’s property. Highly intelligent and are fast-learners. Most are large to very large in size which should be taken into consideration by potential owners.
What do dogs eat?
Commercial, dog-specific treats.
Meat such as chicken, turkey, beef, or venison
Quality dog food (wet or dry).
Common dog behaviors
A dog’s temperament is genetic; dogs have a fixed personality based on their breeding. Because of this, it is very important to fully understand a breed before purchasing a particular puppy. With training, a dog’s temperament can be altered, but they will still be inclined to revert back to their innate disposition. When purchasing an older dog or adopting one from a shelter, consider the dog’s behavioral characteristics and be sure they coincide with what you can handle.
Dogs communicate similarly and have several gestures that have very specific meaning:
Barking – dogs bark to alarm an owner of a present threat or to scare away the menace. A dog may also bark when they are scared or angry. Anxious or excited barking is not uncommon as well.
Biting – biting, like barking, is a form of communicating with a human. Dogs bite when they are nervous, scared, or angry.
Chewing – it is normal for puppies to chew through anything and everything. Puppies chew to relieve the pain of incoming adult teeth. Chewing beyond the puppy phase can indicate separation anxiety.
Digging – most dogs dig to hide food. On occasion, they will be uncovering hidden food, usually small game such as rodents or rabbits. A dog may also dig to uncover a cool surface of dirt on which they want to lay.
Jumping – when a dog jumps up on a human, it’s an attempt to proclaim their dominance. Discouraging this behavior affirms a pet owner as the boss.
Panting – dogs sweat very differently than humans. Heat is released through their feet and by panting; panting also helps a hot dog regulate their body temperature.
As with any pet, prior research and understanding of a pet’s needs ensures a happy life together.