“ Are you ready to commit yourself to the responsibilities of becoming a pet owner? There are many questions to consider when getting a pet. „
Growing up we always had dogs, well we had a pet pigeon and a rabbit and a couple of cats in our time as well lol. When I was born I was born into a household with a great big cream alsation, Candy who was originally my dads dog when he was a single man and was his best friend but sadly she had to be put down when I was about 5 years old. We then went through a period of no dogs, no one wanted the heartache and pain again but my mum finally relented in getting us a Yorkshire Terrier when I was 11, then Max arrived when I was 14 and then Tim Passed away when I was about 21 and Zack the yorkie arrived to whom sadly passed away last year. As a family we are Yorkie mad I must say and simply adore this breed and champion them all the way!
However I have lived with a guy in the past who had a Shar Pei called Benny and a mate who had 4 dogs (who sadly had to part with them due to living circumstances) which were a Pappion, a Japanese Spitz, a German Spitz and a Samoyed, all who were simply gorgeous.
At the moment though I am sat with Daisy the two year old white poodle who is on my bed under the covers eating some sort of paper wrapper (scuse me whilst I rescue it lol). She is a shared dog! She belongs to both me and my mate, my mate bought her but at the moment she has moved in with me for a while due to circumstances! So I never chose her, she chose me...thankfully.
Choosing a dog seems to be made hard work. Basically if your an animal lover your going to love any dog really. I have never been a fan of Jack Russells but have met one I adored and since then I have respect for this little breed as well as all of the others.
I think the keys points to remember is this. All dogs need exercise. Even little uns! I think this is something of a priority to think about cos of course usually the bigger the dog the more exercise it needs! Think about your fitness, your age and how your going to manage in the future and a garden I think is something of a must really. Cost is important to take into consideration too of course. Once again with any dog your going to have to fork out for it, food, injections, ill health...not everywhere has a PDSA and me although I am entitled to use it for any of my pets I cant because I can only go on the waiting list which means I only get a very small discount from them and thats only for my first visit. Insurance is something to consider of course and not only for bigger breeds, anything that goes wrong with a little pet can cost, take my poorly hamster it cost me almost £40.00 to try and save his life and it didn't work!
Another consideration is dog hair. Poodles have a coat made out of wool and don't shred and don't cause allergies. Grooming is another job, shorter coats require less grooming in my opinion than say Daisy who is really prone to knots and bathing her is simple cos she is small though a big dog like Ollie the Samoyed used to kill me and my bad back!
We have to take time training our pets, watching out for other dogs coming to eat them up and a dog can be a messy thing to own. My living room floor constantly gets Daisys paw prints all over it and I'm constantly looking for socks and know shes been at it hiding my stuff again.
Temperment, again in my humble opinion rarely has much to do with the breed at all. I have known a soft as anything pit bull way back, a mate of mine had 3 rotties who was so soft and gentle yet I've known an aggresive labrador. At the moment Daisy has a Staffie boyfriend who adores her and lets her steal his ball on the beach all the time. Its our input, our personalities that mould our dogs, Daisy is as mad as me and my mate!
Time and patience and a whole lot of love is required and that for me is the easiest thing to give of all. She is worth every penny I spend, every minute I have to let her go quick walk in the rain and I get soaked, worth every time she jumps up when I'm about to go somewhere nice and am dressed up plus mucky paw prints. I will always hate her waking up and deciding its time I shifted too and will always hate the sharp bark at 5am when I'm fast asleep and all but would I change it? Deffo not I idolise this little Buppy (my nickname for her which is baby and puppy mixed together lol).
A dog enriches us and teaches us, you want unconditional love get yourself a dog but be aware that it costs, it can be a massive tie for the next 20 years and the picking up of warm poo in poo bags is never gonna probably be your favourite task. We wouldn't be without her thats for sure. The best advice I can give is get out there and research breeds. If you are getting a puppy registered kc then make sure the documentation is correct. There are so many dogs out there (like precious Daisy) who needs people like us to own (yep Daisy owns us not the other way round lol) and usually they come to you fully up to date on their injections and have been neutered already meaning those things are out of the way and something less to worry about.
The main questions though are can you offer a secure, loving home and can have the money available for food and treats and if anything goes wrong with your pets health can you afford to get it fixed? Do you have the energy and the patience...if so go for it but its as big of a commitment in my eyes as having children and just as important as they totally rely on us for everything!
~~*~~ Choosing a Puppy ~~*~~
Forgive me if you find this condescending: sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and just have to write about it. I conduct research with the kennel club and am an Assured Breeder and believe that knowledge equals power - if potential puppy buyers understand what's involved when choosing the right puppy then there should be less dogs in rescue, less backyard breeders and less puppy farms, more healthy dogs and even better, more happy owners.
~~*~~ Ready for Rover ~~*~~
The image of a cute little puppy arriving, giving cuddles and trotting gently to heel is a lovely one though unfortunately it isn't particularly accurate. There will definitely be those moments of pure joy and unequivocal bliss, but you can guarantee that either you won't have your camera or that the moment will be promptly followed by the destruction of a family heirloom.
So, before you even start your journey to find your puppy please consider the following:
What will you be doing in 1 years time?
What will you be doing in 3 years time?
What will you be doing in 10 years time?
Obviously you can't predict the future, but if you're planning on backpacking around the world next year or working your hardest to get promotion, then is it really the best time to introduce baby Rover - why not wait until you're settled? The old adage 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas' is fantastically accurate but infrequently adhered to - it makes me so frustrated when another dog is dumped in rescue because the owners have grown bored of it. A recent survey found that one fifth of dog owners that bought a dog in 2008, didn't own the dog 2 years later: I'm not stupid, I know circumstances change but the last thing I would get rid of is Pig, my Labrador: if I needed money, I'd stop Sky subscription, I'd go out less, stop smoking, sell possessions etc, - she's my commitment that I signed up to and even 2 years ago when I was forced to move, Pig was my priority when I was buying a house.
Not only should you think about the future, you should think of the now - how committed are you to walking in the rain since some breeds need an hour a day exercise, picking up after your dog (most will make a deposit twice a day), training the little beast: investing time and effort isn't something to be taken lightly - a puppy is hard-work: just when you think you've puppy proofed everything, they find a way behind the freezer and eat the cable, bless them.
Ok, you're committed to the theory of 10 years of dog ownership - now consider whether you're financially ready for the undertaking. Here's a quick list of the costs though bear in mind that different breeds incur different fines!:
Puppy: £0 - £1500
Vaccinations: £30 annually
Food: £10 - £50 a month
Grooming: 0 - £40 a month
Training: 0 - £20 a month
Kennels: 0 - £140 a year
Accessories: 0 - £50 a month
Insurance: £0 - £50 a month
So you're going to need at least £150 a year to have a fed and vaccinated dog but how happy is a dog with no bed and no stimulation? If you choose to go down this cheaper route, I can almost guarantee you'll need to find more money to pay for the destruction caused!
~~*~~ Dog that most looks like its owner ~~*~~
With over 200 breeds recognised by the kennel club, it is a mammoth task to find the perfect dog if you don't know where to start. Firstly, what size of dog appeals to you - smaller ones obviously take up less room and generally eat less but don't be fooled as 'small dog syndrome' makes them feisty and just as likely to incur vet bills as their larger friends. Fluffy pooches do generally require more grooming than their short haired counterparts which doesn't just mean a once a month trip to the groomers: they will require regular brushing to remove mud/brambles and prevent matting of the fur. Then there's temperament - not that this is guaranteed in whatever breed you choose, but if you are aware that Border Collies are generally high drive and motivated, or that Greyhounds are cat chasers, or that the Beagle's bark is pretty annoying, then you can make an informed decision. There are many websites that will give you the lowdown on each breed such as suitability to living in a city or amount of coat that's shed. Which brings me neatly to Labradoodles...
Designer dogs are cross breeds. They are manufactured by people who have no interest in the breed standards of pedigrees and are generally after a quick buck. Whereas Epupz and local papers used to contain adverts of accidental matings of two dogs 'free to a good home', people are cashing in on this and creating fake new breeds - the Labradoodle is a cross of a Poodle and Labrador and was originally done to create a dog that was suitable for blind people allergic to dogs (the Labrador is a perfect seeing eye dog and the Poodle is usually suitable for the allergy prone). Unfortunately, one cannot guarantee that the pups will receive the poodle's coat and the Labrador temperament and proof of this is one of my dog walking customers - he looks like an irish wolfhound, is a narky bugger and the son (for whom the dog was chosen) is allergic to him - not the best £1000 they spent. Even the original creator of the Labradoodle is ashamed: http://www.globalanimal.org/2010/12/02/ man-who-created-labradoodles-regrets-the-cross-breed/25768/
The other thing that irritates me about crossbreeds is the myth that a cross will ultimately be a healthier dog than a pedigree. Nope. A well bred pedigree dog that has the correct tests will ultimately be healthier than a cross that may have inherited both it's parents bad points - ie: Labradors and Poodles suffer from prcd-PRA, (an inheritable eye condition) and from hip dysplasia - good pedigree breeders will have the health tests performed on their stock and will only mate dogs that have been tested clear on their eyes and with good hip scores. If you're certain you're having a designer cross breed, then the breeder should have the correct health tests performed on the respective parents - there should be no excuses, after all, you're going to be paying a designer price for it. I should also point out that no respecting pedigree breeder will produce cross breeds. I was going to stop ranting at this point, but no, I've just got one more thing to say - if you want a cross breed, go to a rescue centre where there are hundreds of unwanted, healthy and temperament tested dogs just desperate for a home. Done.
~~*~~ Hunting Dogs ~~*~~
You've found the breed that you think is right for you but where on earth do you start? Unless you know of one that lives down the road with Uncle Bob, my first point of contact would be with a breeder. Assured Breeders are listed on the Kennel Club website - find one in your area and give them a ring. Good breeders will probably have a waiting list for their upcoming litters but nevertheless this gives you a good idea of the quality of their stock - don't be afraid to ask to meet their clan (anyone can come and meet Pig or Puddle to get an idea of what living with either a Labrador or Irish Water Spaniel is like and to have a chat about the breeds in general). A good breeder will be passionate about their breed, that's not to say they will be blind to the bad faults, but instead they will be trying their best to improve the breed.
Although a particular breeder you've contacted may not have a litter on or planned, they will be able to point you in the right direction and this is how I found my Puddle. Irish Water Spaniels are a rare breed and only 117 puppies were registered with the kennel club in 2010 (there were over 44,000 Labradors registered!). I knew I wanted a Permhead as my friend has one and though they're hard work, they're hilarious to look at! Anyway, I rang my friend's breeder and she passed me on to another breeder she recommended for a show type puppy - I went to meet her dogs (3 hours away) and passed the interview for one of her puppies. I waited patiently for 6 weeks and then drove the 6 hour round trip to collect my little bundle of fun. I was lucky as I got exactly what I wanted and second pick of the litter. I wanted a dog of show quality but regardless of whether your dog is for agility, obedience, working or just as a good old fashioned best friend: the breeder will know about the breed so use them and their knowledge!
Once you've rung the breeder, hopefully you'll now be on your way to meeting your new friends for life. Don't be offended if the breeder is a little off-hand initially and ties you down to a date and time to meet their dogs - arranging to meet new people when you've a litter of 12 labradors running riot is not easy and you should expect to spend a couple of hours there. Please don't judge your breeder completely on first impressions - they may answer the door with a pup in one arm and a phone pressed to their head with their hair array and muddy paw prints adorning them - but once you get talking to them and meet their dogs, a more true impression should be revealed.
Some breeders will not let you meet the pups until they're four weeks and most will not let you touch them. There are many reasons for this - contagious infections can wipe out a litter at this stage, children drop puppies on their heads, the bitch can be protective etc. I personally gave everyone who visited a blob of hand sanitizer (for their own protection too since pups are dirty little beasts) and encouraged everyone to play on the floor with the pups - no dropping babies off the sofa and happy inquisitive pups wandering up to their prospective parents and ragging on their shoelaces. Whilst it is imperative to see the bitch, don't be surprised if when you visit she is separate to them - when the little ones are teething and being moved onto solid food, the breeder will be keeping their suckling from the mother to a minimum, unfortunately, nobody informs the dogs of this process and the bitch may look desperate to get back to her babies - don't worry! Also don't be surprised to see the bitch looking a little dishevelled: I don't mean skin and bones but some bitches take it hard - Pigsy had 12 babies who sucked the calcium right out of her, she decided she would be picky with what she ate (although she was partial to eggy fried bread and roast chicken) and blew her coat (her fur fell out) so she looked a little under par! Luckily I had a lot of photos of my precious girl so people knew that she was out of condition and I didn't keep her in the shed. You must be able to at least see the bitch - it will be obvious that she has had babies and if it isn't, question whether the litter belongs to her: there are unscrupulous people that will buy in a litter from a puppy farm and fob them off as their own so as to say they're 'home-reared'.
You've met the bitch, seen the pups and hopefully had a brew. Now it's time to ask important questions. Before you go to the breeders (if you're after a pedigree) check out the tests that the parents and or pups should have - the KC has a list of Required tests and Recommended tests - http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/ download/1100/abshealthreqs.pdf - simply find your breed and learn what health tests they should have, or this one if you already know the names of the parents: http://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/services/ public/mateselect/test/Default.aspx - you can still ask to see the certificates as a good breeder will have them to hand.
NB: Hip scores - The dog is x-rayed after 12 months old and the x-rays are sent to the KC panel for judging and the scores are recorded. The test cannot be repeated so the results are final - a dog tested at 13 months will ultimately have a better score than a 5 year old as there is less wear and tear but each breed has a different mean average number so you should know what is good and what is bad in your breed, however, for all breeds, the closer to 0 the better. There is a score for the left hip and a score for the right and they are written so: 3:5 (Pig's). Be aware that hip scores are only done on the parents so you need to see the score for both the bitch and the dog, and that the two scores for the one dog are closer together ie: the scores may be high say 7:7 but this is a better score than 2:9 which has a larger difference in the dog's hips. I haven't got the time nor patience nor knowledge to say much more about hip scores only that you should remember that these scores have some bearing on your puppy's hips but that nutrition and exercise that you continue with will also have impact. Elbow scores are performed in much the same way as the hip scores - they range from 0-3 and really you only want puppies from a 0-0 bitch and dog. Eye Certificates - A Vet examines the dog's eyes and gives the certificate to a clear dog - the certificate lasts for 12 months and covers things like glaucoma and cataracts. This is not the same as the DNA tests - the Eye Certificates are only valid for a short period as they cannot predict whether the dog will get cataracts, for example. The DNA test for Prcd-PRA is a test whereby the blood of the parents is sent to America purely for this test to see whether the dog/bitch will ever develop the condition. If the result is Clear - the dog will never develop it nor can it pass the gene on as it doesn't have it in it's DNA. If both parents are Clear, the pups are Clear by Parentage and have a very high chance of never developing the disease nor passing it on to their offspring. The other results are Affected and Carrier - personally I would stay away from a breeder that uses a dog that is a Carrier and nobody would use an Affected dog and state it! This test was particularly important to one Piglet adopter - they had previously had a puppy that developed the condition and at 6 months old the poor bitch went completely blind which still brought tears to their owners when they told me about it. The paperwork from Optigen proved that Pig was clear as was the daddy so she was very much reassured.
These are the most common tests but some breeds have different ones so do your research - I believe firmly in health testing in dog breeding - it isn't the be all and end all but it is extremely important for the welfare of all breeds. Lecture over.
Establish the temperaments of the parents by asking simple questions about walking off lead or going to training classes. This won't automatically mean the pups are going to be exactly the same but it does give you a base. Next have a look at the pups - are they nervous things slinking around, or crazed boisterous buffoons? A good breeder will take a look at you and your clan and say whether the quiet one or the brave one is best for you but if you feel like you're being fobbed off with the ugly runt, just say no. Better that you have the dog that's right for you and you stay best friends. If you're after a show/agility/working type ask to see the pedigrees - in these you will see the names of the parent's relatives and their winnings if they have any, for example: Rhodenash Doughnut The Flyenpyg Sh Ch, JW, Ch, FT Ch, WT Ch etc (none of which does Pig have!). Please be aware that pedigree dogs are Kennel Club registered - there are other registration schemes that are free to the breeder but they mean nothing as the only one that counts is the Kennel Club to ensure you have a real pedigree. Some breeders wait until 5 or 6 weeks to register the pups as they believe that it is bad luck before then. I did it at 4 but it can take 3 weeks for the paperwork to arrive. Personally I wouldn't leave the breeders' without it but if you believe it's delayed in the post then that's up to you. The paperwork is very important down the line should you wish to breed or enter your dog in shows - without it you're scuppered!
As for the puppies themselves: they may not be clean and smell of roses because lets face it, if you've turned up just after their dinner: they're going to have food in their fur and quite possibly somebody elses poop on their head. However, you should be able to gauge whether they have fresh dirt adorning them or a week's worth. You should probably see the whelping box or the place where they're kept - those located in the shed are more than likely not going to be the family pet you desire since they'll have not experienced common things like the hoover, washing machine etc but that's just my opinion. They should look healthy ie: no eye bogeys, no runny noses, fat little bellies. Depending on the time of day - you should expect a little excitement at your arrival though it may be short lived if it's nap time. Mine loved people arriving and human interaction which is precisely what I'm looking for in a puppy.
If you've interrogated the breeder then it's probably pay back time - have you owned a dog before, are you aware that Labradors are muppets, will you be working full time, etc. I have to say that although I asked these questions, the answers weren't always the most important thing to base my decision on - full time workers means that there is money in the pot for a dog walker, owning a dog is kind of important but not if they gave it away when it got hard work, just because someone has a garden doesn't mean the dog will get out on walks more...The most important thing for me was how the family reacted to the pups - children that scream with fear/a lady that wanted chocolate rather than black Labradors because they match the sofa (seriously!)/or just staring at the chaos of puppyness rather than being a part of it: these are the people I turned away. I chose not to do home checks because any one can tidy up their 4 bed semi - it doesn't mean that a dog in a flat will be any less cared for. I just made my prospective buyers aware of the size of Pig and the destruction she is capable of!
~~*~~ Signing up for Life ~~*~~
You like the breeder, you love the bitch, and you're already thinking of names for the little whirlwind: now you've got to pay up. Usually a breeder will ask for a deposit which is usually around £100 for a pedigree - this is to ensure you're serious rather than them saving a puppy for you to never pick up and them turning away other buyers in the meantime. Most breeders will issue a receipt and take some details from you. I also required that the new owners came back before pick up so that the puppy had an easier time adjusting when it was whisked away from me. Some may say I was slightly crazy when it came to the prospective parents but to be fair I've made some lovely friends from doing it - I did say to one parent during their interview as to why I should let them have my little chocolate runt: 'Boris is a very special boy - impress me.' Well, he was special - he was a week behind the others in development, I'd strapped him to my chest for a week so he had warmth and a heartbeat as he was too weak to fight against the other 11 for prime position and teats, and at about 3 weeks old, I'd laid him under the heat lamp and me and Piggy had said our goodbyes, only to find him shouting for food 6 hours later. He wasn't going to be a top showdog but his character was second to none and had I not found the right home, he'd be sat here now so yes, I was a little protective over some of them. Others were boisterous little buggers that would have been happy anywhere as long as they had mud to play in and things to destroy!
Don't bargain with the breeder - if you didn't want to pay the asking price, you shouldn't have gone. However, before you go and look make sure the price is reasonable - if no health tests have been performed, they're not being microchipped or vaccinated, or no puppy packs are included: then is it really a good breeder in the first place? If you can't afford to pay for the puppy in the first place then it's unlikely you'll be able to afford to keep it. A puppy should not leave his mummy until he's 8 weeks old so don't ask - he may not see his mum every minute of the day towards the end, but he'll definitely be learning how to play and interact through his brothers and sisters. If you're offered him earlier, I would question why.
A good breeder will have informed you of a contract that will need to be signed when you pick the puppy up. As an Assured Breeder I produced a contract with an information sheet that meant new owners knew the levels of exercise required as the pup grew up, the nutrition a growing Labrador needed and health issues such as vaccinations, worming and flea treatments. Mine were vaccinated as I believe in them, so each puppy had a record book from the vets with their treatments documented in and a copy of the letter I got from the vet that had performed an initial health check on the litter. I also suggested that within a week the puppy should visit their new vets to have a health check so that they could confirm the health of the little blighter rather than take my word for it. The contract was the basic Kennel Club one that included clauses such as returning the dog back to me should their circumstances change. I also added 'Endorsements' to the pups pedigrees which basically meant that the pups could not be exported to another country or that they could not be bred from unless the necessary health checks were undertaken. Make sure you understand what you're signing - some people do not want their pups bred from ever whilst others require neutering. A copy of the contract should be included in your puppy pack and a copy kept for the breeder.
Puppy Packs: whilst these sound like a cheap way to sucker you in, they can actually be very useful. A good pack will contain enough food for you to continue feeding the pup what they're used to for a week or so so that they settle in easily. There may be a toy that the pup has slept with for the past few weeks and or something that smells of their mum. I included a clicker in each one so that the training I'd started could continue. I didn't include a lead and collar, though I did suggest when the new parents came for collection that they had one handy should they need to stop for a wee on the way home (the pup, not them).
Although most of this review is aimed at finding a puppy through a breeder, I'm not a snob. There are plenty of good rescue dogs out there - I'm just trying to help those of you looking for a breed pup without falling into some of the common traps. A rescue centre will check you very thoroughly so don't think that this is the easy way out - they have rigorous rules and regulations too. As long as the puppy is right for you and you're ready, you should have a fun life ahead.
~*~ Your New Best Friend ~*~
This is where the review ends. Hopefully I've helped you choose the perfect companion (if you've ignored my ramblings and rantings that is) - the adventure now begins.
If I've missed anything off, please let me know and I'll include it.
I'm off for a cuddle with my best buddies.
Me, Pig & Puddle.
Review will more than likely appear elsewhere.
Treat a dog with kindness and it'll pay you back a 100 fold!
A dog however must be chosen carefully, and one thing I cannot recommend enough is to rescue a dog from a rescue centre as not only will they be vaccinated and neutured but you will also have the full support of the rescue as well as giving a good dog a home.
I cant comment on various dogs as I only have one ad am only familiar with one type; the collie/ There are so many collies in rescue and abanded because people take them on as cute little fluffy puppies and fail to realise is how much work they are failing to research that they are in fact a working breed and if not treated as such they can become destrctive.
Beau has 3 walks a day, as well as training sessions. He comes everywhere with me. At weekends we go for walks lasting 5-6 hours non stop and upon coming home he will still come to me with the ball!
We go training once a week for two hours where he does basic obedience and agility, for two hours a week we also go tracking as he is training to become a tracker dog! And after all that, I still worry its not enough!
If a collie is given a job, whatever it may be, agility, obedience, flyball etc then they will be happy. Collies love to learn but if they become bored they can be destructive I've heard of stories where collies have chewed through walls.
They are a very very clever breed which in one very is lovely as they learn so much however, this means they can pick bad habits up very easily! I know of collies who can remove the laces of shoes to let the owner become aware of this. Collies are also stubborn!
Because a collie is a herding working dog, they are not always suitable for families with small children as they can sometimes attempt to 'herd' the children and consequently nip them. However with training I beleive to an extent this can be worked on.
There is so much I could say, but the main thing is as with any dog, A dog is not a commodity and should be researched thoroghly before undertaken.
As also with any dog, if treated correctly they will be your best friend for life!
Choosing a breed of dog is a labour of love within itself but it is a great way to find out if you really want a dog or not.
My mum decided we should get a dog to help my brother through rehabilitation after a serious accident and it was the best decision we made.
We, fortunatly for us in a way, didn't stick to our guns on researching a breed because we ended up with the perfect dog tha has fitted right in as our 5th member of our household.
The library is one of the best sources for researching different breeds.
Don't jump for the books on specific breeds because they are usually written by someone who has specialised in that breed so it will be a hugely biast account. Go for the simple books that have relevant details in about a variety of breeds.
Keep in mind all aspects of your lifestyle and the lifestyles of any other people who share your house. A dog will live, typically, anywhere between 10 and 15 years so it is a commitment that you have to think about in detail.
If you have a short list of breeds then look on DooYoo and specialist sites to find out more detailed information and experiences, visit rescue centres, ask friends who have had dogs.
A dog can be a lot of hard work so doing all the research will help you also decide if this is the right choice you are making. If the researching makes you fed up then think what it'll be like having the dog itself.
Dogs are fantastic members of the family; they are loyal, funny, always excited when you get home, offer unconditional love and seem to know when you are feeling down and need a sympathetic ear. They are a major commitment, however, and a large responsibility that should not be untaken lightly. Once you make the decision, though, you will be rewarded in spades by a fantastic pet.
I had two dogs as a child, a mongrel of unknown ancestry and, later, a golden retriever, and I now have a Labrador of my own called Sirius, so here's my advice on making the decision whether to get a dog or not and, if the answer's a resounding 'yes please', what kind of dog to go for:
~ Time and energy ~
Dogs are pack animals and like to have company for most of the day, so if you work long hours or like to go out every evening then getting a dog would be unfair. Leaving a dog to its own devices for hours on end is a recipe for disaster - like children, the dog will get bored, unlike children it will usually then provide its own entertainment and proceed to chew everything in sight and destroy your house!
Dogs need to be walked every day, no matter what the weather (investing in waterproofs is a good plan) or how crap you're feeling. If you're not the outdoor type, getting a dog is probably not for you - unwalked dogs get hyperactive and, again, make their own 'entertainment' - but if you love walking in the parks or countryside, seeing the seasons change, and keeping fit then a dog is a great companion for your walks and runs, getting you out and enjoying the scenery even in the most torrential downpour!
Last but not least, you will need to spend time training your dog if you want him/her to behave properly - we've all met those charming canines who steal cakes out of their owners hands, or run rampant around the house jumping on every human in their path and they are not pleasant to live with! You'll need a lot of patience and consistency to teach your dog to walk nicely on the lead (we still haven't quite got this perfect!), leave things when you ask them to, and to come back at the end of a walk (a friend recently described his mate who has to spend around an hour before work each morning trying to re-catch his dog after its walk...). I personally found training Sirius fun and extremely rewarding - each dog will learn differently but there's a tonne of info out there on the subject, and you can attend classes too (rather amusing).
~ Cost ~
It has to be said that taking on a dog was not the wisest spending idea I ever had; a dog can be quite a pricey animal. Firstly, depending on where you get your dog, you may have an initial outlay to buy him/her. Next are the bare essentials of kit - bowls, collar, lead, bed - though these can be found quite cheaply nowadays. Obviously there's also dog food; the cost of this will vary considerably depending on the size and appetite of your dog and what kind of food you feed them (dried vs canned; lots of treats). We currently spend about £20 per month for our medium-sized dog.
You'd also be crazy not to get your dog insured - this covers most vet bills if your dog gets ill or has an accident (and trust me, they can be amazingly accident prone sometimes), as well as covering you if your dog runs out in front of a car and causes an accident, or injures someone - hopefully unlikely, but you could be liable for thousands of pounds if it did happen. Vet bills can be astronomical so make sure you check whether the insurance has restrictions on long-term illnesses or an upper limit on claims etc. Our insurance started at £15 per month, but has risen by £1 per month each year as Sirius gets older.
Finally, if you're planning to go on holiday, or even for long weekends away, you may need to put your dog in kennels, which can be expensive. We're lucky enough that my parents or sisters can look after Sirius if we go away; cultivating dog-sitting friends and family is a must!!
~ Mess ~
Having a dog is not ideal for the extremely house-proud. Depending on its age, excitability, or an illness, your dog may have accidents in your house - ours has epileptic fits and often will be sick afterwards. As mentioned, they may well chew some of your things while settling in (Sirius successfully destroyed door frames, skirting boards, carpets, chair arms, books, photos... fortunately, he grew out of it), and depending on breed they may raid the bin (definitely if they're a Labrador) and leave the contents strewn across your house - a lovely thing to come home to! They will probably leave fur everywhere (with modern central heating, they tend to moult year-round), put paw-prints across your clean kitchen floor, and slobber on you when you're about to leave for work. Dog toys are also extremely fun to buy so our house is littered with various squeaky toys, ropes and balls as well as the ubiquitous bone or dog chew that's in progress that day. On walks, or even in your garden, you are also going to have to get adept at cleaning up after your dog...
~ Yep; I want a dog ~
Once you've decided you want a dog, there are a few more decisions to make:
This is an important choice as each breed has different temperaments, attitudes, energy levels, fur shedding etc. Read up on them and find your best match e.g. if you're a couch potato you would not enjoy having something like a husky that needs hours and hours of exercise; something like a greyhound, that just needs a short burst of exercise and will then happily lie calmly for much of the day may be a better match. Equally if you're looking for a nice, calm family dog to go with your children getting a guarding breed would need careful consideration. Some breeds are also more prone to particular diseases. The other option is to get a cross-breed; these can be marvellously balanced dogs that are less likely to have inbreeding problems, although you can't always guarantee what you get - our family's first dog apparently just kept growing and growing!
Puppy or adult dog? Each has pros and cons. Puppies need a lot of attention and you'll be starting the training from scratch, but on the flip side you get to train them exactly how you want them to behave right from the start. An adult may already know some commands, and be a bit calmer, but there may be bad habits you'll need to re-train them on.
- Pedigree or rescue?
Another personal preference; some people prefer to know exactly what they're getting and are prepared to pay for the heritage of a pedigree dog. I personally love the idea of helping a dog that has had a pretty shoddy life to have a new, better start, so I go for rescues. There are plenty of gorgeous dogs that need a loving home - Battersea alone gets over 12,000 dogs and cats each year (and then you've got the Dog's Trust, RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Breed rescue centres). Sirius had been abandoned in a park in London and was extremely underweight and probably previously mistreated, as well as being a bit of a handfull - now he's full weight, perfect temperament and loves nothing better than swimming in the Thames during long walks.
~ Overall ~
Although I've highlighted a lot of cons about having a dog to make sure people realise just how large a commitment they're taking on (for the next 15 years or so), in fact sharing your life with a dog is a great privilege. Throughout my childhood they taught me about responsibility through feeding, watering and walking, they were my playmates, our guardians when my sisters and I played for hours in the woods by ourselves, someone who understood when I was an angry teenager and listened to my complaints, and when my first dog died when I was 11 I learnt about grieving. Getting our current dog was one of the best choices of my life. He's rewarded us with doggy love non-stop and is an absolute pleasure to share life with.
Having been raised with dogs, I understand how much they can enrich your life. I'm sat here now with my border collie Sox cuddled up next to me on the sofa and my german sheperd Sadie practically replacing the rug, kipping on the floor next to a now reduntant tennis ball.
Dogs are wonderful creatures. To me they offer companionship, a reason to get off my butt and go for a walk and they fill my days with funny moments and impromptu cuddles. Dogs in general tend to be fairly dependant, loving creatures if raised in the right way. Ours have never been to puppy training classes; my parents have had them for so long they know the drill. I realise now that I'm 22 and soon to move out, that I could easily ruin a dog if I was naive enough to overlook that my parents do a hell of a lot of the legwork, and that is overlooking the fact that these dogs are older and enjoy spending hours sleeping anywhere and everywhere and don't have the get up and go that a young pup would have.
So first to consider - do I really have time for a dog?
Look at your lifestyle. Do you do the 9-5? Do you work long hours, do you have a garden or a local park where they are allowed off the leash? Do you have a home large enough to accommodate a dog? How much do you value your shoes/sofas/tv remotes? If you're looking at a puppy, you have to consider that they're going to need to get up at night to take a leak. They'll probably pee anywhere and everywhere until their properly house-broken and this can mean smelly stained carpets, a sneaky poop hiding behind the sofa and frequent bed cover changes until they're got the gist of getting you to let them out. If you're gone for 8 hours at first, whose there to open the door if they don't get they can use the litter tray or newspaper? Then there's teething and boredom - the little angels have tiny little gnashers which they quite like using on your arms when they want to play, and on your chair legs when you're not around. Sadie loved chewing. Infact, we bought Dad a limited edition Starwars triology boxset one christmas about 9 years ago and she took a few chunks out of the cover sleeve. It shows how much he's watched it when in all that time he's never found out. Boredom is a destroyer - are you ready for that initial teething problem where everything will nibbled? And time - my mum is up at 6.30am for the first walk of the day and 5pm they get a longer run - have you got time and the energy for that? It'll help with your nibbling problem and burn that energy off but do you want to take them for a stroll round the block when you could get an extra 30mins - 1 hr in bed?
Type of dog - they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and tempermants - where will you be buying yours? Personally I would never buy pet shop dogs as they most likely came from a puppy farm. Only for the brave if you choose to look them up on the internet - animals bred in disgusting conditions will little contact with other animals or humans. Sadie came from a breeders home and is kennel club pure-bred pup - she was and still is confident and entered the home environment well. Sox came from a farm and lived with her mum in a barn - she was nervous and didn't settle well and is still very skittish with weeing problems - she pees when she's excited or scared, and the feeling inbetween sometimes as well! Where will yours come from and what breed and size - big, small, long-haired, short-haired, energetic or lap dog.
On-going care. When you get your pup, they may of had certain injections - they MUST have their injections when they are younger to protect them, other dogs and humans against a number of problems. Farm dogs usually come with fleas, maybe yours will be allergic to fleas and mites and have skin problems. Maybe, like Sadie your dog has issues that relate to its breeding - hip and breathing problems, digestive problems. Maybe it'll get hit by a car and need expensive, extensive surgery. Maybe like my previous border collie, you were stupid enough not insure your dog, they twist their stomach whilst retreiving a tennis ball and your parents spend their life savings on £3000 a time operations for a dog who in the end will be too weak to walk and you'll have to let them go.
Dogs are expensive but are they are a joy to have. Just remember that they are a lifetime commitment and you can't always predict how it will all turn out. Train them well and you'll have a wonderful family member to share a major part of your life with.
Before choosing a dog make sure you are able to commit your self to having a dog and are able and willing to care for it.
A dog will get lonely so will there be some one at home? Can you afford it? It's not just a case of buying food, there are yearly injections to pay for, regular worming, kennel fee is you need to use them. Vet fees can be vey high should your dog need treatment so insurance is a wise move also. Are you willing to walk your dog daily? Dogs need exercise daily. All this for on average 12 years
Once you are happy and committed what type of dog? This depends on your circumstances & where you live. Some dogs are better suited to living in the country side where as others can live very happily in the town. Some dogs need lots of groom where as others need very little. Again exercise some dogs need a great deal more than others.
You also need to look at the different breeds as they all different natures. Is a certain breed suitable if you have children.? This is where research and lots of it comes in need. The best place to start in the Kennel club there is lots of information on there which will make it easier for you to choose.
Where to buy from? Pedigree or not? Breeder or private? Kennel Club registered or not??
Again many questions you need to look at, I my self would but from a breeder, but be careful again read as much information as you can. Sadly they are far to many puppy farms in the UK and unless you research first and know what questions to ask and what you should expect from a breeder, the chances are you could find your self in a puppy farm without even knowing it!
Kennel Club registered or not??
If the breeder tells you they haven't registered the puppies to save you money don't buy from them simply walk away it does not cost that much to have them registered, more than likely there is an underlying reason as to why but to save you money is not the reason. KC registered puppies are not a guarantee of any kind its simply a paper trail to trace the parents should there be any difficulties. Both mother and father of the litter must be registered with the Kennel Club & have had various health checks for a litter to be registered.
Health issue, again research and check which breed of dog are well known for various health issues
My best bit of advice, research as much as possible, never buy a puppy unless you have seen the mother, make sure you see all the litter if a breeder just brings one puppy to you be careful. A good breeder will ask you questions as they will have all their puppies best interests at heart.
You may think you are getting a good deal, but speacking from experience is it such a good deal when months down the line you find out your lovely new puppy needs medical attention and is in constant pain?
This is unfortunately a review not just about Whippets, i cannot find another section to put it in however, so this is a review about choosing a breed of dog. It does cover whippets: Ratty :¬) x
As you will probably know from my previous review about Greyhounds recently my family has been considering getting a dog. However, as you may or may not know Jack, the greyhound, did not work; for two reasons: He tried to eat my cat and he was huge! So in my member advice I am going to share with you everything I know about getting a dog, choosing a breed, what each dog is good for, how much exercise they need, whether they can live with cats and any other household information that may be useful.
As you probably know and have been told, getting a dog is a big decision. It means adding more than a piece of furniture to your house and if you choose to get a puppy, it's also as bigger commitment as having a child. You are in charge of your dog and if you work full-time and no one will be at home with your dog. It may be the wrong decision; maybe you should give a cat a go instead. However if you are still very keen on getting a dog here are something's you must know:
* Some dogs will need up to 4 hours exercise a day.
* If you get a puppy you should expect teething and it may try to chew your furniture. It may also have accidents and ruin your flooring.
* If you get a mongrel it may grow to 60cm high and 1metre + long!
* Rescue dogs may become anxious and upset causing destructive behaviour.
* Dogs prefer to have company and do not like to be left for more than 5 or 6 hours with out a companion.
* Dogs take up a lot of space.
SO YOU STILL THINK YOU WANT A DOG?
If after taking all these points into consideration, you still think that you would like a dog, take this test to find out if you are suitable:
1. Are you out of the house for more than 6 hours a day, with no one there?
a. No - I am not regularly out for more than six hours a day.
b. Occasionally - I am out of my house for more than six hours a day around one a week.
c. Yes - I am out of my house for over 6 hours a day, most days.
2. Have you recently had your house refurbished?
b. Between 2-5 years ago.
c. Yes in the past 2 years.
3. Have you ever handled dogs before?
a. Yes - I have owned a dog before.
b. Yes - I have worked/looked after dogs for a short period of time.
c. No - I have never handled a dog before.
4. Are you strong?
a. Yes - I am strong/someone in my house who would also be looking after the dog is strong.
b. I am quite strong.
c. No - I am not very strong.
5. Do you have children?
a. No/ Yes I have children over 12.
b. Yes - I have children between 14 and 5.
c. Yes - I have children under 5.
6. Do you have any other pets?
b. Yes - I have another pet such as a dog.
c. Yes I have lots of small pets such as cats, budgies, rabbits and hamsters.
7. How much exercise can you give a dog?
a. Between 2-4 hours a day.
b. Between 30 mins - 2 hours a day.
c. Less than 30 mins.
8. Are you prepared to pay vets bills and food bills?
a. Yes I am prepared to pay vets bills up to £10,000 and food bills of up to £20.00 a week.
b. Yes - I am prepared to pay vets bills of up to £2,000 and food bills of up to £10.00 per week.
c. No - I am not prepared to pay vets bills and I am only prepared to pay for food up to £5.00 a week.
Mostly A's: You have no problem with getting a dog. You can provide all the necessary equipment and have the experience. You can have any dog you want, and may choose a rescue dog or a puppy.
Mostly B's: You can provide most of the things a dog will need. Although you may need to ask questions about specific breeds and choose wisely what kind of dog you get. You need to research quite carefully and you may want to choose a quieter breed. You may also need to ask people who own dogs about more of training and how to handle them. You may want to try some dogs that other people own in order to gain experience.
Mostly C's: You cannot provide most of the things a dog will need. It may be difficult for you to look after it and it may not gel with your surroundings. I may suggest getting a very smaller, gentle and quite breed. It may be advisable to not get a puppy as they are very excitable.
PUPPY OR RESCUE DOG?
This is the question that plagues many people who consider getting a dog. As getting a dog should not be taken lightly like is shown in many soaps (such as Eastenders and Coronation Street). If you get a puppy with out thoroughly thinking over your decision, it may well end up in a rescue home.
The benefits of a rescue dog are many as they are generally quieter and older, have been tested with cats and they will have a general idea of what kind of temperament the dog has and whether you are a suitable owner. They do have their downsides though. They may come with hidden behavioural problems such as a dislike/fear of men. If it is a puppy it may not be pure bred and you will not know how big it would grow to and what problems it may have as you do not know its history. This may lead to expensive vets' bills.
However, if you get a puppy it too is not without fault. They may ruin furniture and be disobedient. They may be too playful and cannot be left on their own for long periods of time. They may have never encountered things such as cars, and sheep! However, they are not without their good points either; such as they are very cute. If they come from a reputable breeder they will have checks and you should meet the brothers, sisters and mothers and maybe even the father. They are pure breed so if you know the breed and have researched it you should know what they are like and how big they will grow to.
SO, WHICH BREED?
Here I have compiled together some fact files for different examples of dogs; including things such as, how big they can grow too, the colours they come in , are they friendly with cats and how much exercise they need.
The Labrador Retrievers are brilliant dogs; they are great family pets and CAN live with cats. They need around and hour to two hours exercise each day. They are not good with being left as they are dogs that crave human companionship and can become upset if left on their own as they like to move about a lot. They come in black, chocolate brown and yellow (you are not allowed to call it golden as gold is apparently not a colour) coat colours and have beautiful soft ears and lovely faces. They are cross-country distance runners and are happy to be active a lot of the time. They like being outside and can live in a kennel outside, some of the time in summer. However, they love being part of the family and hate being on their own. They can grow to be up to 63cm for a male and 60cm for a female. They are beautiful dogs and are very often in demand and because of this there are many breeders of puppies. However, if you would like to get a rescue Labrador go to: www.loveyourlabrador.co.uk for central and south east.
www.homealabrador.net for the north east
www.labrador-rescue.com for the south west.
Beagles are medium sized dogs, with sweet faces and great personalities. They are loyal dogs that can live with cats although some won't. They can grow up to about 44cm and are very playful. They are sturdy dogs and need a medium amount of exercise - about 1 hour a day and need clear leadership from their owners. They come in many colours including lemon, tri-coloured, dark tri, faded tri, tan, very light tan, red, black. The most common colours are tri-coloured and tan, which is a two colour. If a beagle is not tri - coloured (three colours on top of white) he will be one colour on top of their typical white base. They are a hound type of dog and very friendly, however they are not very good at being handled all the time and need space. Beagle puppies are also often in demand and are not very hard to find, however if you would like to adopt a rescue beagle go to:
Collies are huge working dogs. They can grow to a similar size as Labradors and come in many different looks. There is the Rough Collie, the most recognisable collie breed. Then there is the bearded collie, the Border collie and the Border collie and rough collie cross. All these dogs have their roots in shepherding and the Border collie is still used on many farms today. Because of this they need hours and hours of exercise. They will need from 2-4 hours a day! They are not suited to be left on their own and are not suitable with cats. They are lovely dogs and great guard dogs although they can be rather shy or vicious. Collie puppies are also quite easy to find. However if you would like to adopt a rescue collie go to this link here:
Whippets are very similar to Greyhounds, although they are a lot smaller. They are typically anywhere between 46cm to 56cm tall. They are beautiful dogs with beautiful faces. They have huge eyes and delicate physics. They have been used to race before however most do not race now. They are a member of the sight hound family and have been known to kill anything small that moves, including cats. However, people with female whippets have said that they live with cats' fine as they are so gentle. But it might be better to research this with people who know about whippets. They are content to be left all day and only need about 20-40 minutes of exercise a day. Whippet puppies are little bit harder to find, however the breeders are still there. If you would like to adopt a rescue whippet go to this address here:
www.thewhippetclub.com and under JR whippet rescue.
Each of these dog breeds are useful and lovely companions, although all are suited to a different family. They are all different and all lovely breed. However some of their needs are very different.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BREEDER
Buying a puppy from a breeder seems like an easy feat, however if it is too easy then you should watch out. Here is what to look out for in a good breeder with healthy dogs:
* Not bought from a pet store.
* Should be seen with their mother and brothers/sisters.
* Not advertised in a free local paper.
* Should know who the father is.
* Have a waiting list.
* Have tests on eyes, hips etc. for that particular breed.
* Should not give the puppy away before 8 weeks, probably 10.
* If possible find the breeder out of a specialised magazine/website with minimum advertising standards.
* Should know about the breed.
* Should know how big it will grow to and what their temperament is.
OTHER RESCUE HOMES
Other than the rescue homes mentioned. There are a few with rescue centres round the country.
The RSPCA: www.rspca.co.uk this is one of the most well know animal rescue centres and try to re-home more than just dogs. They have a selection of cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, horses and all other types of animals!
The Blue Cross: www.bluecross.org.uk again like the RSPCA only not as well known.
Dog's Trust: www.dogstrust.org.uk this is a specialized dog charity and really great, even if you do not want a dog you can always sponsor one and receive all their details, their picture and an update once a month.
Greyhound rescue: www.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk this is a charity specializing in greyhound re-homing, after the dogs have retired from their racing lives.
Any other way of finding a rescue dog near you is to type into the internet the breed of dog you would like to adopt or to type in Rescue centres near _________ (type in your nearest big town or your county).
IS A DOG NOT RIGHT?
Maybe after researching dogs and trying to find a dog you have decided that a dog is just not for you. This is absolutely fine, however if you would still like a pet why not consider a cat? At the moment most rescue centres are almost begging you to take away their cats as they are quite over run! My cat is rescued - I rescued her myself! - and she is fine. Rescue cats are not generally as bonkers as rescue dogs although most rescue dogs aren't. But please, if you think something is missing from your life, consider a pet they really are a wonder!
Thanks ever so much, Ratty. x x x x x