The decision to buy or to adopt a dog is not one that should be taken lightly. It is a serious commitment and there are several factors to consider. Are you really ready to have a dog? As fun as dogs can be, it is a serious decision. You are planning to take responsibility for a living creature that is completely dependent on you. Dogs require food, shelter, health care, exercise, attention, love, time and money. If you're not completely prepared to provide all of these things, you're not yet ready to own a dog.
Your lifestyle should be probably one of the biggest factors to consider when planning to get a dog. All dogs require attention, but some need much more than others. If left alone, these dogs will not do so well and are more likely to destroy items in your home. The same can be said for exercise. Some dogs require much more time to run around, while others can get by with less physical activity. If you're the type of person who is away from home more often than not, you should choose a dog that will manage well in your absence - independent breeds like Dachshunds, Mastiffs, or the Yorkshire Terrier.
Everyone loves puppies. They're adorable. But how adorable will you think your puppy is when you find him in the middle of a mess that used to be your favorite pair of shoes. Puppies, like babies, require an enormous amount of attention and effort - from housebreaking and socializing to teaching acceptable manners. If you don't have the time to keep a steady training schedule, perhaps you should look into getting an adult dog. However, adult dogs come with their own "baggage." Some adult dogs have been abused or neglected. As a result, these dogs have acquired some less-than-ideal behaviors of their own.
Once you've got an idea of what you want, there are generally two options you can take to get your new puppy or adult dog. You can buy a dog from a reputable breeder, or you can adopt or rescue a dog from an animal shelter. Unless you're looking for a purebred dog that you possibly plan to breed in the future, adoption from a shelter is one of the best ways to go. Adopting a pet from a shelter is not as expensive as buying a pet from a breeder.
Animals from a shelter are usually screened for health and temperament, so you can be sure that while you're giving an animal in need a home, it's the right animal for your home. However, if you're looking for a specific breed, a breeder (or a specific breed rescue) is the way to go. Ask for references from your breeder, and ask about how many times of year they breed. A good breeder generally only produces one to three litters a year and will guarantee their dogs against most major health defects.
Pet stores offering puppies are not good options, as they tend to purchase their puppies from "puppy mills" - breeders that produce many litters a year with no apparent concern for the health and well being of their dogs. These puppies tend to be more likely to have strong health concerns due to neglect. When chosen for all the right reasons, the ownership of a dog can be wholly rewarding and a very satisfying experience.
Are You Ready for a Dog?
by Amanda Baker
Amanda Baker Writes for All Things Pondered: www.AllThingsPondered.com.