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WHAT DOG IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Author: Bernadette Emery
Co-Author: Mark Siebel


When people see a well-behaved, cute dog performing tricks on the big screen, they often think that dog would be a perfect dog for them. They head to their local pet store or to the closest animal shelter hoping to bring home a new friend. They want their new dog to be just as well-behaved and cute as the dog they saw on-screen. But after only a few weeks they begin to notice that the dog has too much energy or that all the dog wants to do is play fetch! They realize this dog is not the kind for them or worse, that they are not dog people. Maybe they will stick it through and hope their dog gets better, or maybe they will find their dog a new home, but in most cases these dogs end up being abandoned.

It is not the dog’s fault. The dog’s owner did not do any research when it came to what breed of dog would be best for the owner’s lifestyle. When picking out a new dog or puppy, research is the key.

So where should a new dog owner start? First, a new dog owner, or an old dog owner who is looking for a new dog, should think of some dogs she already has some interest in. Maybe her neighbor has a German Shepherd, and maybe she has seen a Golden Retriever on television, and she likes the way he looks and acts. With over 150 different purebred dogs, narrowing down to a list of five to ten different kinds is the best place to start.

The next step is to find out some information about the dog breeds. The AKC.org website is a good place to start. They also have listings for different dog breeders. Getting in contact with breeders, or a local vet will also help future dog owners collect information about the kind of dog that is right for them.

There are several areas that a future dog owner should be concerned about. Once the future dog owner knows these areas she will be able to ask good questions about the breed of dog that interests her.

Temperament: every dog owner wants to make sure that they get a dog with a personality that they can live with. Is the dog active? Is the dog easy to train? Is the dog friendly with strangers? Can the dog be left alone for long periods of time? All of these questions will help a future dog owner pick a dog that is right for them.

Size is another concern that a dog owner should have. A larger dog will need to eat more, and have enough room to fit his needs. Grooming is also an area that a future dog owner should be interested in. All dogs need some grooming but some dogs need more than others. A dog owner should think about how much time and energy that she wants to spend on grooming the dog. Health is also a concern with different dog breeds. Some dog breeds are genetically prone to different illnesses, this can cause a problem if owners are not willing to take care of a sick dog.

Different dog breeds need different amounts of exercise as well. Some dogs need more then an hour of exercise a day while others need very little. If a dog owner is not willing to properly exercise her dog then the dog may become bored or depressed and this can lead to unwanted behaviors.

A future dog owner should also think about the people and other animals in her family. Some dog breeds are less child-friendly than others, especially young children. If a dog owner already has a dog, she will want to get a dog that is good with other dogs. Some dog breeds are not known for being good with cats, so that should be looked at as well.

Maybe a new dog owner is thinking about getting a Golden Retriever puppy. He may have seen Golden Retriever puppies on television or knows someone that owns a golden. This breed was ranked number 4 in AKC top dog breeds of 2007. Golden Retriever dogs are well-mannered and intelligent dogs. They are fairly easy to train because they like to please their master. They can get along great with children. These dogs are loyal and a great family dog. While they are more prone to lick a stranger then attack, these dogs can loudly signal a strangers approach so they are able to become good watch dogs. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time, and they can get into mischief if they are isolated too much.

The size of these dogs can range from 20-24 inches and 55-80 pounds. Grooming is fairly easy, just comb and brush regularly, but make sure the undercoat is brushed, shampoo and wash normally. The dogs shed an average amount. Golden Retriever dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and cotangential eye defects. When looking for a puppy make sure that the dog parents are tested for Von Willebrand’s disease and any heart problems. These dogs are also prone to skin allergies. Golden Retriever dogs can live 10 to 12 years.

Golden Retrievers need daily exercise, a good brisk walk or jog is a great way to do this. These dogs also like a good game of fetch. Be careful not to overfeed these dogs because they will gain weight.

German Shepherd Dogs were number 3 on 2007’s top breeds and they can be a great dog to own. German Shepherd Dogs are a very active dog. This is a herding breed but are so versatile that they are often used as working dogs. They are bold, obedient and eager to learn. They love to be close to their families and are very loyal, but they are wary of strangers. This breed should not be isolated for long periods of time. They are not prone to excessive barking. They have a protective nature, but they need to be trained properly to prevent over guarding. German Shepherd Dogs are very smart and respond well to training, but if the dogs do not get the right kind of training they can become aggressive and attack.

These dogs are only a little bigger then the Golden Retrievers between 22-26 inches and 77-85 pounds. They shed normally, but these dogs do have a seasonally high shedding period. To avoid having to vacuum every day just run a brush through the dog’s coat daily. Avoid bathing the dog too much because that will deplete the skin’s natural oils. German Shepherd Dogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplesia, blood disorders, digestive problems, epilepsy, and other genetic related problems. These health concerns can be avoided or minimized by getting a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Working class dogs love to work and exercise. Make these dogs work by briskly walking or jogging them, and combining some mental stimulation. If under exercised, these dogs can become restless and destructive. With proper training these dogs can do well with children and other pets, but training and socialization need to start at an early age.

Maybe a smaller dog is better suited for a future dog owner; a Maltese dog can make a good pet. These dogs are playful, gentle and trusting of a good owner. The dogs are very intelligent, and will learn tricks if the dog thinks he is getting a good reward. They make good watch dogs because they will sound the alarm. They may take a little longer to potty train than most dogs, but a regular schedule early on will help with accidents.

These dogs only get to be about 8-10 inches in height and weigh about 6-9 pounds. Maltese shed very little, so they are great dogs for allergy suffers. The dog’s grooming can take more work. They need to be brushed daily because they have long hair, and because the hair is soft it’s important to be gentle. A dog owner should clean the dog’s eyes and beard daily to prevent staining Baths, and ear cleaning are important too. Some Maltese dog owner’s take their dog to professional groomers and have the dog’s hair clipped so that it is easier and less time consuming to take care of. Health concerns for Maltese dogs include: sun burns, skin, respiratory, eye and tooth problems. They also may be picky eaters. These dogs live about 15 years but they can live as long as 18 years.

Play will take care of much of the Maltese’s exercise needs, but a daily walk is still a great way to lessen behavioral problems. They are good in apartments because they are very active indoors and do not require a yard to play in. These dogs can be snappy towards children especially young children and infants. Maltese are great with other animals however.

There are over 150 breeds of dogs to choose from, and there are many more mixed breeds. Whether or not a dog is a mixed or a purebred, a future dog owner should take the time to do some research on the type of dog that will be best for them. Finding the well-behaved, trick performing dog, may not be as easy as it seems on television, but with proper research and training it will benefit the dog and the dog’s family in the long run.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500+ Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday, ABC Sonoran Living, Channel 3-AZ FAMILY, FOX 10 News, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/ or call Mark @602.318.0122.


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