Thursday, March 24, 2011

Picking Your New Friend - Dog Training in Milton

Puppy picking is a very exciting occasion. It's less stressful than giving birth, but can be more stressful in the aftermath. Picking a puppy can be a tough decision for families who want to add a new member to their household, but are not sure where to begin.

Well, I say it's always best to begin at the beginning ... so let's start. The best thing to do when you think Rover would complete your family, is to make a list of what breeds you are interested in and why. Why the why you ask? Simple, you need to be aware of why you are choosing the canine that you've got your eye on. Is it because you like their style, and their eyes bring out the colour of your spring wardrobe? If so, perhaps move on to the next breed that you like because their temperament suits your life style. Many times puppies are picked solely based on looks, and though this may work for some, it can be a nightmare for others.

Temperament is key when choosing a pup that will best suit your family, and this is not just true of puppies, this is also the case when choosing an adult dog for companionship. Temperament is essentially who the dog or pup in question is or will be. If you don't want a shy dog, stay away from those who react badly to noise, who cower when touched, or who want nothing to do with you when you are pleading to pet them. If you aren't into the dominant dogs, stay away from those who decide your leg would make a good mounting board or those who thrash and struggle in your arms and refuse to calm down.

Temperament is what you should look at in order to match the dog/puppy to your family. If you are an active family who loves jogging and hiking, don't get a laid back, lazy dog. If you are a family who enjoys couch time and potato chips, grab the dog who enjoys a good nap in the mornings and afternoon.

Be aware that there are breeders out there, if you choose to go that route, that put temperament as number 3 or 4 on their list of priorities for breeding. Ask to see the parents of the litter, as this will be a good indication of what may lie ahead for you. Adult dogs are easier to assess because what you see is basically what you get, but be aware that dogs are contextual creatures and may act different in different environments.

In my humble opinion, temperament should be right up there as number one, beside health, as the most important aspect to look at when putting two dogs together for a breeding. Shoty temperaments or temperaments that don't match the families that picked them, are reasons why many dogs are taken to pounds and rescues. So if you keep temperament as #1 on your list, you should be able to avoid that problem.

Obviously health is a going concern for puppy buyers. Choose a breeder who screens for health issues prevalent in that breed, and who uses proper venues to register their dogs health. Ask to see health certificate from OFA, OVC or PennHip. Research what the issues are in the breed you are interested in, and go in with knowledge rather than ignorance. Don't let the breeder pull the wool over your eyes with statements like, "oh, the certificates are in the mail." or "oh, the vet said my dogs are healthy.".

And make sure that the breeder in question will offer you a minimun 2 year genetic health guarantee covering anything that may come up as hereditary in your new pup. For those going the route of rescuing a canine companion, there is little that can be ensured about the dogs potential health, but make sure that the dog is up to date vaccines, has been heartworm tested, flee tested and over all looks well. It is important to take any dog or puppy to your vet right away to confirm that he or she is in good condition. Most health guarantees require that the dog is taken within the first week in order for the guarantee to be valid. Keep in mind though that guarantees and health testing are not the be-all-end-all, and issues can arise, even from two perfectly healthy, tested individuals.

This is a huge decision for families and should not be taken lightly, so at the very least, be aware of the above in order to better facilitate your decision making. Over all, be prepared with your own research before you decide which puppy to adopt. By being aware of health and temperament, you increase the chance of choosing a dog that will suit your family and be healthy for years to come.

Check out the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (developed by Wendy Volhard) for indications about what kind of temperament you pup may have as an adult. Please note, this test is a good indicator of potential temperament, however, due to environments that pups may be placed in, changes during growth and amount of training/socialization a pup may receive, results are not guaranteed.

By Julie Deans ©2011

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