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Choosing and Owning your First Dog

The decision to buy a dog for the very first time is one that children usually identify with. Adults who are the moms and dads of these children usually know what it means. In a word: responsibility.

After all, who, as a child, hasn’t promised faithfully to look after the little puppy you want, forever and ever? Then you get bored, and mom or dad is forced to take over the task – usually forever and ever. Most do so willingly, because apart from responsibility, owning a dog does also mean a journey of love and experience that these very special animals offer above all other pets.

So, having decided to take the doggie plunge, what do you choose?

All puppies are cute, but different types of dogs have different characteristics and therefore a range of varying advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you are looking for. Some are quiet or playful, while others thrive on constant activity, like the Jack Russell and Fox Terriers and Border Collies (or sheepdogs). You will need to do a bit of homework to be sure you know what’s in store for you from the start.

Size is another factor, and you can choose from tiny, like a small and dainty miniature toy Pomeraniam or cute little Yorkshire Terrier (or Yorky), to very large, like a giant Great Dane or an appealing Irish Wolfhound or Deerhound. Obviously, the bigger the dog the more it will eat, and usually the more exercise it will need.

Now let’s throw in a wild card. A huge number of people are more than happy to invest in a cheap pavement special, not necessarily because it’s going to cost less, but because these little unwanted creatures of unknown breeding very often bring more joy than a perfectly pedigreed dog ever could. They thrive on love and attention and often give more love and companionship than you could ever imagine.

Whichever breed you decide on, don’t go the route of a first dog unless you are willing to take responsibility for it. Don’t begin to believe that your child will care for it as promised, because it may not happen. The early training of all dogs, big and small, is so important, you really do need to be sure you can cope. A dog allowed to run riot as a puppy will become an uncontrollable adult dog. That kind of dog isn’t fun at all and you’ll quickly stop loving it.

One of the decisions when buying or adopting your first dog will be whether it is a male or a female. But unless you’re a breeder, it shouldn’t be that important. Unless you know what you are doing in terms of breeding dogs, and understand the consequences, you should make sure that you neuter or sterilize dogs, male or female, because otherwise they are likely to look for partners to mate with, and will go on to produce their own pavement specials.

Once you have made your choice (be it pedigreed or a real mutt) and either paid a huge amount of money for your pup, or perhaps nothing at all, you’re going to have to get to grips with taking it home and caring for it. Some pups are easier to care for than others, just like human babies. Some will whimper for their mommies, while others will take to their new human family (and possibly an existing four-legged family as well) like a duck to water.

Your first test will be how well you can cope with puppy winging and whining, puppy pee and puppy poops. If your first instinct is going to be to chuck the baby dog outside to do its business where it won’t affect your home interior, this might be the time to back-off and think about getting a cat instead! Cats are a lot easier to house train, but you won’t get the same love and loyalty you will get from a dog.

House training is the first challenge and there are lots of ways to do this. Unless you are able to get up frequently during the night, while your first puppy is still learning, make sure there is lots of newspaper for it to wee on. Also make sure that the area it is left in is secure, otherwise Persian rugs and other treasures might be ruined. You can’t blame a puppy if you allow it access to rugs and furniture you value. Don’t be tempted to let it sleep on your bed unless you’re happy to have an adult dog sleeping with you for years to come.

During the day, do the age old puppy training exercise that involves rubbing its nose in whatever it has done and then removing it quickly and firmly, and showing it where it should be done. This really does work, but only if you are consistent and allow the pup access to the outside area so it can go there when nature calls. And always reward with your voice and by patting.

Once your first doggie has been house trained, you’ll be well on your way to a happy relationship with whichever breed you have chosen. Enjoy.

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