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SELECTING A DOG
You have to give a lot of thought and take your own time especially if you are a novice, before picking a dog you are going to live with the next ten or fifteen years. A bad or hasty or careless decision can mean a lot of heartache and waste of money. There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration before deciding on your choice.
First you must have an idea of the different breeds and groups of dogs. Then you should pick one which should suit your personality and your needs( whether you need it for guarding, hunting, showing or just as a companion) and the time you can spare, the space you can provide, the money you can spend etc.
The size of a dog is a practical consideration while choosing a breed .. you must decide whether you want a giant, medium, small or a wee size dog. The size should be compatible for the space you provide. Another consideration is the dog's exercise and care requirements. An active dog needs either space to play or your time to go out for walks. Some breeds may be far more costlier to keep and care for than others.
Another factor you have to think about is coat care. A beautifully coated dog may be good to look at but needs constant care which requires lot of time and patience to keep the coat from becoming messy. Characteristics of certain breeds also matters, some dogs maybe loyal to only one person while some others maybe family oriented, certain breeds may be more tolerant of children than others and so on. Certain breed has specific genetic problems that can affect their health. Get an idea about breed specific health problems.
Once you have decided on a particular breed, the next thing is to pick out a healthy one from the lot for sale. It is always better and safer to get a pet from families with dogs having a recent set of off springs so that the puppies are not exposed to the array of diseases found at pet stores, kennels, breeding farms etc. and you also get an idea about the animals parents. Another option is to get it directly from a good breeder or a small familiar pet store
No matter where you get your pet from, have it checked out with a veterinary doctor and make your purchase only on his certification of good health. As far as possible get the necessary papers from the seller like its Pedigree ( a list of the dog's forbears say parents, grand parents and great grand parents etc.) and its registered name, its AKC registration Number/ AKC registration Certificate if any etc. If not, you are entitled to know about the parents, its heritage and background as some breeds are prone to have genetic weaknesses. The seller should give information about the dogs medical history outlining the shots it has had and its food habits etc.
The best age for picking a puppy is at eight - nine weeks, after the weaning and before he/she has gotten used to their birthplace. The pup should have clear bright eyes and clean ears. Reddened or swollen eyes is not desirable. Discharge or pus from the eyes can indicate worms. Ears should smell waxy not foul. Lightly clap your hands from behind while somebody is standing in front to check hearing. The nose should be free of discharge. Sneezing, coughing, wheezing or a runny nose and eyes can indicate Canine distemper in puppies. The teeth should be white and clean and breath should smell clean. Check the skin for patches of flaking, reddening and for signs of fleas and the fur should be shiny in most breeds. While you want to avoid overly nippy pups, don't pick the one that flinches or cowers when you approach either: Puppies should be active but not aggressive. Over-all the animal should feel firm, strong and energetic.
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