Congratulations! You’ve decided to make your life a little furrier by adding a canine companion. Besides their sheer cuteness, dogs have been used for various therapies for many years, including hearing and seeing dogs, and as special companions for children with autism.
So now the big question is how to decide on the perfect canine friend?
Puppy or Adult
Few things are cuter than fluffy puppies, but puppies also require more energy and input from you than an adult dog. Puppies need to be housebroken, oftentimes requiring outside breaks in the middle of the night. Puppies are also very inquisitive, and you will likely need to “puppy proof” your house, which means making sure hazards, like wires and cables, are safely out of puppy’s reach.
An adult dog from a rescue or shelter may have an unknown history, which means there may be some hidden behaviour or temperament concerns. Older dogs, however, are usually already housebroken and tend to be less active than puppies.
Large or Small
The size of the dog is also something to take into account when selecting your new friend. Large breed dogs require more space, so a Mastiff may not be the best pet if you live in a small apartment. Large breed dogs also require more food to eat, and since medications are oftentimes based on how much they weigh, are generally more expensive to treat for parasites and other diseases.
Where to get your puppy
Registered breeders are often a great place to get a puppy from since they have invested a lot of time and finances into breeding. Beware the dog broker! This is someone who acts as a middleman: they acquire dogs from a source (usually a puppy mill) and then sell them to the public. There are usually many puppies present with no sign of mom or dad. Also be suspicious of anyone who won’t let you see mom or dad, or where the puppies are being kept. A local humane shelter or breed rescue organization are great places to look for older dogs. From a socialization standpoint, it is important for puppies to stay with mom and their litter until they are 8 weeks old.
Adding a dog to your life is an exciting time. Your veterinarian is a great source of information to help you make the right decision so you and your new companion can get off on the best “paw”!
Written by Dr Morganti