It is so much better for folks to ask questions and do the research, before adding a furbaby to their family. This way you can ensure many years of love, joy, and the best friendship there is!
Dear Danielle - We are looking for a dog for our family. My husband and I both come from backgrounds with no dogs in them, so we know practically nothing about them. We would like to know if there are differences among the different breeds? Also, we have a four year old child. We've heard differing opinions and want to know if it is safe to have a dog when you have a small child? Your help is much appreciated. Mrs. D.
Dear Mrs. D. - Yes, there are a lot of differences among the different breeds. Each breed was bred for a reason, and so each breed has certain characteristics that pertain to that original purpose. As you investigate the different breeds, you should find out what the history of that particular one is, so you can decide if those kind of behaviour characteristics would suit your personality, and the lifestyle of your family. For instance, terriers have a tendency to dig, and can sometimes be dog aggressive. German Shepherds may have a very high mental activity level, and if bored will chew, chase things or bark. Northern dogs were often bred to do physical work, as well as some herding. They may not be quite as dependant as a breed that was strictly bred to be a companion, such as the Maltese. I believe this initial learning is very important because so many people get a breed of which they know nothing at all. They end up disliking what they see as 'negative' behaviour - when in fact if they had learned about the breed first, they may have made a different choice!
As for having a child, it should be fine as long as you train the child to respect the puppy, and always, always supervise all interaction between child and puppy. Do not let the child look on it as a plaything, and never let the child 'discipline' the dog. Dogs learn best through positive motivational learning, which means reward the correct behaviour, and don't reward the wrong behaviour. Children and dogs can be the best of lifelong friends, as long as they are both taught to always treat the other with respect and kindness.
So, there are many things to take into consideration before making a choice on a living creature who will be a part of your family for the next ten to fifteen years! Just remember, if you want an intellectual genius, don't get a dog that was bred to focus it's attention on one thing at a time - you may end up mistaking this fabulous focus for a less than stellar IQ! If you want a dog to lie on your bed, share quiet walks, or sit patiently at home waiting for you - don't get a dog that was bred to be constantly active and working. You may wind up thinking the dog is too active. It's not, it was bred to be that way! Dog ownership is a serious commitment - a life-of-the-dog responsibility, which should never be entered into lightly. Every dog is special!
This article of mine was originally published in PETIGREE Magazine.
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Author: Danielle Lea MacDonald, Certified Master Groomer IPG, ISCC. Pivotal member of the Society of Holistic Pet Stylists. Lifetime Member In Good Standing International Society of Canine Cosmetologists.
Danielle's Studio is a full-service, pet grooming spa designed exclusively for grooming small dogs.
I am committed to meeting the highest standards of the Pet Styling Industry. Grooming is my passion!
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