This book deals with obtaining and maintaining a dog. For more general information, see the Wikibook Dogs
For average owners, the importance of the breed is in understanding for what purpose the dog was bred and how that purpose relates to its life as a pet. Herding dogs often get a reputation for nipping, because that is the way they control animals they are herding. Retrievers require lots of regular active running and chasing. Lap dogs love to be in your lap. Dalmatians are coach dogs. As decorative as they are, if they will not have an opportunity for regular exercise, you should choose some other dog. If you like an active dog, you shold get a bigger dog. If you like a more laid-back dog, get a lap dog.
Acquiring a pet dog
You can buy a dog from a reputable dog breeder, if you are motivated to adopt by the desire for a specific type of dog or if you wish to minimize the uncertainty that often accompanies a shelter dog. You can find an article in the penny saver fro a dog for sale, and they are usually cheaper than buying from a breeder. You will also pay significantly more for the privilege, but welcoming a well-bred, healthy and trained dog into your home is quite a privilege, indeed! The extra cost is often small compared to the treatment of the symptoms of a genetic disorder.
Keep in mind that good, reputable breeders do not breed every cycle and may even lose money when they do have a litter. Costs they assume include
- health and genetic testing of the mother,
- getting the mother together with a genetically appropriate father who is also tested for health and genetic problems,
- medical care for the mother during pregnancy and birth (including a caesarian if necessary),
- medical and routine care for the puppies (even sick ones) for at least 8-10 weeks,
- microchipping of each puppy, and
- caring for any puppy that becomes homeless during its lifetime.
Buying a dog from a pet store is not recommended, as these dogs are often poorly socialized, receive no training, and are commonly weaned from their mothers and siblings too early (often 5 weeks). You usually don't knowwere they came from and how the owner before them treated them. If you ever see a dog in a pet store, and want to take them home and care for them, consider the following:
- Puppies require a great deal of attention and time;
- Training is a tedious and occasionally frustrating process;
- Puppies normally learn bite inhibition from their mothers and littermates between 5 and 10 weeks of age so you will have to do the teaching;
- Pet stores commonly (some would say "always") stock animals bred in puppy mills or non-reputable breeders, in unsanitary, dangerous and inhumane conditions -- and every puppy mill dog purchase perpetuates the existence of puppy mills.
Many animal welfare charities recommend adopting a dog from an animal shelter, rather than buying one at a store or from a breeder. Getting an adult dog from a shelter avoids surprises in such things as the size and temperament of your pet. They are often neutered and housetrained, too!
Keeping your dog healthy
The best way to keep a dog healthy is to let him have plenty of exercise, and not to overfeed him. You should be able to feel only a slight padding of flesh over the dog's ribs and the "waist", just in front of the hind legs, should curve up noticeably from the chest. Also, his belly shold curve in, not out for most breeds.
Let them have at all times a plentiful supply of clean water. When giving baths, use shampoo made for dogs; human shampoos can strip protective oils from hair and irritate skin. Breeds of dogs with long hair need regular combing out and may need a professional groomer.
Feed your dog a complete and balanced dog food. Dogs have different nutritional needs than people and some common human foods can kill dogs through poisoning (chocolate) or intestinal blockage (corn on the cob).
Canine distemper is liable to attack dogs from four months to four years old. It prevails most in spring and autumn. The disease generally manifests itself by a dullness of the eye, husky cough, shivering, loss of appetite and energy, and occasional fits. Because distemper is infectious and incurable, affected dogs should be isolated from healthy dogs. Fortunately, an effective vaccine exists and should be administered to all puppies.
Dogs can get worms from eating wild animals, living or dead, and from eating the droppings of other dogs. Watch the stool for signs of worms and bring a stool sample whenever you take the dog to the veterinarian or if you suspect a problem.
To administer medicine to a dog, try wrapping a pill in bacon, cheese or some other treat. Give the dog a treat or two without the pill first and the dog will be more likely to swallow it quickly. Or, if you and the dog trust each other, simply push the pill down the throat past the tongue and clamp the dog's jaws shut. It will usually swallow the pill. (This method is normally used only by vets and professionals)
Naming your new dog
With so many possible names, people find it difficult to decide on a single name for their pet. They are not restricted by concerns that the dog's classmates would tease it about its name, which would be an issue with children, so any name is possible. For dog names, people have used the names of pop-culture icons; the names of countries, states, regions, or mountains; the names of movie stars and cartoon characters; old classic dog names such as Rex, Spot, or Fido (based on the Latin word fidus, which means fidelity); and modern classics such as Benji and Scooby-Doo, among many other sources. Some people enjoy inventing clever word-play names.
In general, there are no rules about dog names, although there are practical considerations. If a dog has a commonly used name, calling its name in a public place with other dogs present can cause multiple dogs to come running. For calling a dog at any time or giving commands, a short name is easier to use, although most owners whose dogs have long names end up giving them shorter nicknames anyway (for example, Scooby-Doo might be called Scooby, Scoo, or Doo on a regular basis). Some pedigree organisations do have rules in place for dogs of the breed they control. For example the Dutch Samoyed pedigree dictates a specific letter each which has to be used as the first letter of all dogs of the breed born in that year.
The main considerations that you should take when naming you dog are to:
- avoid names that sound like commands
- avoid names that sound like other names (don't name your dog Pete when your child's name is Peter)
- avoid generic names like "Dog"
- keep the name short (preferably of one or two syllables)
- try to use "hard" consonants and vowels