One of the big time reasons dogs land at shelters is that people choose the wrong breed, or wrong individual dog to match their lifestyle and their personalities. While most dogs would give their lives for members of their immediate families (and love isn't too strong a word to describe the relationship), a pawful spend a lifetime trying but are terminally living with people unsuited for them. It's just not a good match. Or families just can't meet a dog's individual needs. For example, an elderly family may not have the ability to take a Labrador Retriever to water for a good swim, or to the park for a good run. And/or that dog may be just too strong for them. Where if that same family had a Yorkshire Terrier, it wouldn't be an issue.
Making the right choice in the first place is imperative How do you know what type of dog, or for that matter individual dogs, is right for you? Dog trainer Sarah Hodgson offers this hugely fun quiz , "What breed of dog are you?" While her quiz has no scientific foundation, it's just for 'entertainment purposes.' Still, if the quiz starts people thinking about making the right match, that's a very good thing and will save lives.
Let me offer some examples, I frequently see exasperated owners with Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. They wonder how these "crazy dogs" can ever be calm therapy dogs or lead the visually impaired without dragging them down the street, much less simply be a suitable pet. With any breed think of what they were originally bred to do. These guys were bred to run on hunts, and to keep running and into water to follow the downed birds. Some Golden and Lab genetic lines are incredibly energetic (other pet lines not so much), and they may be especially wacky as "teenagers." Still, when properly socialized, these dogs are famously wonderful. Some must love them. For 21 years Labradors top the list of popular dogs in America. But it doesn't mean they're for every family.
If you're live in an apartment, are active but older - and still seek a dog to "assist" your hearing when someone's at the door, a Yorkshire Terrier might be one of many great choices.
That's the thing, there are many great choices. The choices aren't always necessarily pure bred dogs, they may be shelter dogs. Shelter workers and adoption counselors, who see the dogs in their care daily, are your best resource for describing an individual dogs' personality.
Always adopt or purchase an dog with all family members present. And be honest about your lifestyle, how often you are home (or not home), your willingness to exercise the dog, how you feel about barking, etc. Understand that breed generalities are just that - all dogs are individuals.
Now once you have the dog home, it's important to provide to meet the needs of the newest family member. That means providing appropriate play time, appropriate socialization (particularly for puppies), appropriate attention and the appropriate diet.
As for diet - feed to the dog's age. Puppy food for pups, as an example. Also, these days, you may be more targeted. For example, Royal Canin offers some breed specific foods. For example, for Labradors the kibble is shaped like a donut (to slow down the ravenous vacuum inhaling dogs, so they chew their food), and is high in protein (to meet energy needs) and contains lots of L-Carnitene (to burn fat).
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