What is the best dog for me?
Maybe you have never had a dog of your own before or it’s been a long time since you’ve had one. Perhaps your family had a dog when you were growing up and you have a yearning to have a dog of your very own. In this series, I will try to help you answer the question, what is the best dog for me?As a child growing up in town for the first almost 9 years of my life, we did not have a dog until shortly before we moved to our farm. My family would have been considered poor, we relied on hand me downs for clothing, three of us children slept in one bedroom. My Dad built my bed and also my brothers’ bunkbed to save money. He was a bit of an inventor and tried to come up with ways that would make chores easier (especially once we were living on the farm).
Our parents got a few rabbits in the early years, thinking to supplement our food. My mother kept a large garden, probably the largest one in the neighbourhood.
Our rabbits however, soon multiplied to dozens or more, and for whatever reason or another, our family was not eating them. I suspect they were just too cute for my parents to consider eating them.
My parents also tried to raise a small flock of chickens in our garage, which I unfortunately killed with love. I was about 6 at the time think, I thought the chicks were feeling the cold and turned up the heater in the box in which they were started off in.
When I got home from school, and discovered all the cute little chicks were dead and that I had done it, I was devastated. I loved all the little bunnies that were born a few times per year too. When the rabbits started digging out and going into our garden and those of our neighbours, my parents realized that maybe it was time to consider a new plan. We children were begging for a dog and cats too.
When I was 8 years old, on the verge of turning 9, we moved into a larger house on 5 acres.
The yard was so overgrown that the weeds were taller than we were. However, we were thrilled, I had my own bedroom finally, as the only girl in the family and we had a puppy too!
The puppy was one of a litter of mixed breed pups belonging to friends of my parents. I remember we called him Scotty. Scotty was only the first of many dogs over the years, all of them mixed breeds.Through ignorance, our family did not raise many of these dogs the right way and as a result some were what we termed as ‘failures’. If you’ve read previous posts, you will know why I termed this statement the way that I did. The dogs did not fail us, we failed them.
When I got married and had a farm/ranch of our own, my husband and I began our own legacy of owning and raising dogs. Like my parents and siblings, we also failed some of our dogs, not putting enough time and energy into the training albeit the raising of them.
The first was a Poodle named Peggy, who I have written about in the Separation Anxiety post. Then along came Kricket, another poodle.
The next two were brothers
purebred German Shepherd brothers, who we named Luke and Beau (from the Dukes of Hazzard). After that we purchased a purebred Golden Retriever named Merrigold, then another purebred Golden Retriever after her, named Chelsea, followed by Gus, a Siberian Husky, and then a purebred Collie named Frisco, then Bellows who was a cross between two types of Belgian Shepherds, then Lucky, a collie X, Katie (part coyote most likely), Bobo, a Corgi X and Joey, a Pom X.
We had many of these dogs together. Kricket and Chelsea spent many years together, Bellows, Frisco, Lucky and Katie were raised outside together as a pack, and Bobo and Joey were raised as house dogs at the same time. At one time we had 6 dogs all together. To say that I am a dog lover is an understatement!
As you can see, we tried out a variety of breeds over the years, presently we have two Golden Retriever Xs, both raised outside as ranch dogs. Right now as I write this, they are stretched out on the floor in our lobby sunroom though, I take them in every now and then as I love having them close to me. They also spend a lot of time on our deck, where they can look into our living room. My youngest dog, Ciro, will sometimes bark and get excited when he sees dogs on the TV which faces their view. Sirius, my middle aged dog, couldn’t care less what’s on the Telly 🙂
Now back to the question, what is the best dog for you?
If you are living in an apartment, and not especially active, the smaller breeds might appeal to you more, more specifically, the non shedding breeds perhaps. If you live in an apartment and love to walk, run or bike, then I would suggest a medium to large breed that could keep up with you.
Living in a house with a back yard, your choices are more varied but remember, dogs require mental as well as physical stimulation. Keeping an outdoor dog in your backyard, while living in a town or city is not ideal. Dogs will dig and bark when bored and unhappy. I am a firm believer that if you are a city or town dweller, your dog should spend just as much time inside with you as your dog spends outside (more if your dog has a short or thin coat). Keep this in mind before rushing out to buy a dog.
If you are a dog lover living in a rented house, apartment or condo, most likely you are out of luck. Most Landlords these days, at least here in Canada, have leases that prohibit pet ownership.
However, if you own your home, there are also things to consider before jumping into getting a dog. Dogs, especially puppies, will make messes on your floors, you can count on it! Does your home have a lot of carpeting? If so, you may have to put up indoor dog fencing to keep your dog off those areas, at least for awhile. A friend of mine recently bought some attractive indoor dog fencing for her older dog to keep him out of the living room. Being an old dog, he’s been having more accidents on the floors. Our home had a lot of carpeting once but gradually we have been fazing carpeting out, in favour of laminated floors.
You will have to decide too whether you want your dogs on your furniture
If so, are you okay with hair all over your upholstery, or all over your bed. I advise against dogs on beds and furniture for different reasons which I have gone into in a past article, but ultimately it will be up to you.
And there are questions like can you afford to feed your dog the best food that is possible to feed him or her?. When your dog has developed an illness or had a serious injury, can you afford any medical bills? If you have read any of my articles on dog food, you will know how important it is to feed the right foods, or you most certainly WILL have more medical bills for your dog.
Is every one in your household on board with raising a dog? What so often happens, parents will get a dog for their children, with the idea that the children will be responsible for the dog. However the reality is that children are children, needing care themselves, and will in most cases, not be reliable caregivers and trainers of the dog.
If you are a parent, of a child that wants a dog, know that you will have to take up the reins of responsibility for the dog as well. Dogs need consistent training, feeding and over all care, do not expect your children to take on this huge responsibility on their own.
By all means though, involve your children in the every day care of feeding, exercising and reinforcing training on a daily basis, but the mantle of responsibility should primarily rest on the adults shoulders. The dog is the one who loses when things go wrong, and that could be said for any pet in the household.
Are you prepared for dog hair on clothing and floors, there will be plenty of that even with regular grooming, unless you buy a non shedding breed.
Are you prepared to groom a shedding dog yourself
or will you take your dog to a professional groomer? If you have chosen a non shedding breed, you will have to use the services of a Groomer every 6-8 weeks because the coats will mat. Non shedding means the coat keeps growing out and as a result will tangle and mat very easily, creating quite a matted mess over time.
Some dog owners choose to learn to groom their non shedding breeds themselves. One can learn this through on line dog courses too. The shedding breeds can also become matted in certain areas where the coat is longer and can’t just fall off as in Collies and Retrievers like Goldens.
My two Golden Retriever Xs have longer coat on their legs, behinds and around their necks which mat quite badly during their shedding period. Dogs kept outside will only shed once a year, usually in July and August, shedding out their heavy winter coats. I brush and pluck out the hair as it comes off but ultimately, I take them both to a Proffessional Groomer in either August or September to finish the job and take out the mats. They always look fabulous after their grooms!
Dogs spending most of their time in the house have a tendency to shed almost ALL the time. I believe this has much to do with the diet too. I will go into that in another article.
And then there is the training part of dog ownership…
you must decide if the adults in the family are willing to commit to this task and the younger ones in the family must be taught to reinforce this training. Are you prepared to take your dog outside 4 times per day for bathroom breaks? Prepare yourselves with knowledge, training is not hard, but must be consistent, that is VITAL.
There is the exercise for the dog too, who will be doing that? Every dog needs exercise to burn off excess energy and for his or her mental health too. You can make it a fun activity, including your dog when you go running, biking, walking with your partner or family or just yourself. Dogs are great companions for every one, but especially if you live alone.
Is it better to have two dogs or just one? I am a believer that it’s best to have two dogs instead of just one, but if you’ve never had a dog before or never trained one before, start with only one. Ideally, raise one first, and then bring a younger one into your household when you have finished training your first, who should be two or three years older at least. It can be a disaster in the making, to get two puppies and try to train them both at the same time!
Well, that’s about it for this article What is the best dog for me, I will try to cover the pros and cons of various breeds next time. Untill then, keep reading and stay in touch.
for the page What is the best dog for me? Part Two
for the page What is the best dog for me? Part Three
for the page Caring for the older dog