How To Give Your Dog a Real Dog’s Life and Make Him Love You for It
This is a abridged version of part of one of the chapters of this book.
Choosing a Kennel Mate
If you and your family or you alone have decided that you want to get a dog, the first thing to do is answer the question why. Yes, dogs are cute, loveable, protective, beautiful, and fun to be with. All those things and more, but they are also time-consuming, desirous of attention and expensive when sick. They may also be expensive to feed, look after and insure.
So, why do you want one? There are plenty of very good reasons, but it is best to be honest with yourself right from the start, because it will affect the type of dog you want or should have. Are you looking for a lapdog? Something to keep you company and that won’t need much exercise? There are plenty f small breeds, but some are yappy.
If you live in a flat would that annoy your neighbours? Are you even allowed to keep a dog in your tenancy agreement?
Do you want a dog in order to introduce your children to the animal kingdom? Great idea! Perhaps a slightly larger dog in that case, one that can tire your children out. Some breeds will play all day, which is ideal if you have several children, otherwise a more relaxed breed might be appropriate.
Are you looking for a guard dog? Will it live inside or out? Even a small Yorkshire Terrier will alert you to
prowlers, but it probably would not scare them. On the other hand a Dobermann or Rottweiler would frighten them, but you may end up with a lawsuit on your hands, depending on where you live.
When you know why you want to live with a dog, you will know what size and temperament of dog you are looking for and you are half way there.
Two other major factors to take into account are:
How much room you have. Will the dog be able to wander around a secure, fenced garden all day, or will it be stuck indoors with not very much to do? Do you intend walking it a lot or do you expect it to take care of its own exercise needs? If your garden is big enough,you can probably omit one walk a day quite often, but it will still want to go out – meet some of the locals, sniff some of them and wet a few bushes or lampposts.
Are you allergic to dogs or animal hair? If so, it is not a complete disaster as some dogs have been labeled hypoallergenic. Did you know that? Like skin cream. So you could get one of those. They might not be the complete answer, but they will be less disruptive to your immune system.
Obviously, bigger dogs, in general need more exercise than smaller dogs, so if exercise is going to be a problem because you are elderly, infirm, sick or disabled, think about a dog that is smaller than knee height, because even at knee height they are more likely to tire you out than the other way around – especially the sheep dogs and other herding or hunting dogs. They can run all day.
Pedigree, Crossbred or Mongrel?
A pedigree dog is one whose parents are both of the same breed. Human beings created pedigree breeds through selective breeding – inbreeding, in fact. Pedigree dogs just did not exist before we restricted their natural tendency to mate with as many other dogs as it could find. All dogs were mongrels.
The benefit of choosing a pedigree dog is that you can accurately predict its size, shape, requirements personality. So, for example, if you were to choose a Poodle puppy you would know with near total certainty what he will look like when he gets older, his approximate size, that he will be intelligent, and easy to train, and that he will hardly ever moult much.
A crossbred is the result of two different purebred dogs. They are designer, hybrid dogs. So, a Labradoodle is a Labrador crossed with a Poodle, with characteristics of each, but to what degree is more or less random.
A mongrel, mixed-breed or Heinz 57 is the result of any two dogs who mate at random. You don’t know what you will get from such a pairing, although mongrels are often intelligent and hardier than the other two types above.