Choosing a Pet
Puppies or dogs
Dogs are very social creatures; they aren’t happy left outside or chained up in the yard alone all the time. If you are thinking about getting a dog, make sure you’re going to be able to spend several hours a day with him or her.
Also, consider carefully what kind of dog to get. Adopting a puppy is a huge commitment, since you cannot leave a puppy home alone all day. Most puppies need to eliminate every two hours or so. Also, in order to co-exist happily with humans, puppies must be taught house-training skills and basic cues such as “sit,” “stay” and “come.” If puppies are not handled often and socialized when young, they will become shy and fearful.
If you’re thinking about getting a particular breed of dog, you might want to read up on various breeds before deciding what type of dog to get. Different breeds of dogs have different characteristics. You can still adopt from your local shelter even if you want a purebred dog, since a quarter of the dogs at shelters are purebreds.
You’ll also want to consider where you live, how much space you have, and what your lifestyle is. For example, very active dogs may not do well confined to a small apartment or living in a big city, unless you are thoroughly committed to providing your dog with plenty of exercise. All dogs should have at least one walk a day outside their home turf, but some dogs need much more. If you are a fairly sedentary person, you probably want to find a dog (perhaps an older dog) who doesn’t require that much activity. Keep in mind that not all small dogs are less active and not all large dogs need a great deal of exercise. You’ll want to learn more about the traits of the dog you’re thinking about getting, even if he or she is a mixed breed, to see if you are compatible.
Dogs need quite a bit of interaction with their humans in order to be happy. If you’re very busy and spend little time at home, a dog might not be a suitable pet for you, unless you can bring your dog along when you’re away from home. You’ll also need to spend some time training your dog to respond to basic cues.
Make sure you have enough money to have a dog. Costs associated with dog care include food, toys, leashes, a crate, training, grooming, spay/neuter surgery, routine vet care and, sometimes, emergency vet care.
Whatever dog you choose, keep in mind that you are making a long-term commitment, since dogs live 10 years or more. Your dog will need attention, love and respect from you: food and water are not enough. Dogs need to be part of the family.