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Choosing a family pet checklist: best breeds for allergy? For kids or seniors? Toy breed or guard dog, high energy or laid-back? Free, professional advice from the world's first dog-site!!




by Dr. Roberta Lee, D.D, PhD., N.D.


A "dog for the kids" completes the family. A dog is your child's best friend, a non-critical confidant to share childhood dreams and to teach care and responsibility.


Should you buy from a breeder or adopt from a shelter? Choosing the right dog can be a challenge once you've made the decision to bring a dog into your family. There are a few things we should cover, like trainability, size, breed type, feeding cost...


 I know that you don't want to think about the negative things right now. You want this to be a very happy, memorable time for you as a family and for the new addition. And that is just as it should be but to make the right decisions, you have to know the darker side of obtaining that wonderful new family member. So, when you have finished reading this article, please check the link below on PUPPY MILLS AND PET SHOPS. It is a need-to-know article. Now for the fun. You ready?


Once you have decided on the type of dog you want, PLEASE go to a registered society that supports that breed, and educate yourself and your children on the dog's expected size, abilities, talents, energy level, personalities. This is the only way to have a good beginning and experience for you, your children, and the wonderful NEW FAMILY MEMBER. 


Also important is where to buy your new best friend. It might be a neighbor who has a litter, it might be the local animal shelter, but if you are picky or want to increase your odds of getting a healthy dog that looks and acts like what everyone agreed on then you may have to find a good breeder.


BEFORE you and the children to go to pick out the wonderful new friend ... you have decided on the breed, you have found out where the best, most healthful place to buy him is located. You load up in the car, and with wild anticipation, away you go. Right? Wrong! We still have some work to do. But it will be fun work and for the children, it will help to build the anticipation of the new family member. This is one of the “memory book” experiences I mention in my shows.


So start with a family counsel meeting and let the child or kids think you adults are just now deciding things. From here forward I'll be talking to your child through you. You are the parent so here is a list of things to be discussed before you run out for that new family member.


Where will the animal sleep? You have a bed of your own so it is important that your new family member have the same. The dog (s) will come to know this as “their place.” And this will bring comfort and security to the animal. It is important to pick an area that is safe from family traffic, drafts, and noise. This will be the nursery of the “baby” and like a nursery, you want to make it as safe as possible. Look around, and imagine the pet in a year, or five or ten years. Is this where the dog will still be comfortable?


Next, look to see if it is safe. Are there wires that a new “puppy” can teeth on? Believe me, if dangerous objects are there, a puppy will attempt to chew on them and you can’t watch him twenty four hours a day. So it is best that you just make sure that there are no extension cords, wires or outlet plugs in that area.


Alright now you have picked “the” spot for the nursery. What will puppy sleep in? Of course that will first depend on what size puppy or adult dog you get. Remember that animals are creatures of habit just as we are. So get a bed that will more than accommodate the adult dog. We will cover how to fix it up for that tiny puppy or kitten, in a minute.


Picking out a bed is simple right? Well, not really. Here too, there is a lot to be considered. Will it be just a cardboard box? No, that is definitely not a good idea. So lets make a trip to the pet shop. Unless you have a list, and you have made up your mind in advance, this will really cost you. You will be so excited that you will buy, buy, buy. There is no need to go into debt at this stage. Believe me, you will have plenty of time for that later. Here is a list of things to consider when buying a bed. I do NOT advise doing what one of my friends does with his Great Dane!


1) Size of dog/cat when full grown.

2) Where in the house you will put the bed.

3) Safety of the bed/bedding. What is the covering, can it be chewed? What is the fill? Are you sure that it isn’t toxic?


 I want to share an experience that I had with you, when I got Alexandria, a Doberman female. I treated patients in a third world country at that time and needless to say, there was no PetSmart or anything like it there. So, I bought a bassinet that was hand woven by the natives of the country. It was pretty large. I fixed the bassinet up with a queen sized blanked on the bottom so that it would be firm, but soft and comfy at the same time. I had a collection of stuffed animals, so I picked one that would be slightly larger than my puppy. I also had an old alarm clock. The kind with the loud ticking. I put the stuffed animal in the bed and hid the clock under the stuffed animal. I put her bed right by the side of my bed, so that, if in the night she woke and became frightened, all I had to do was reach my hand down and comfort her.


The first night I carried her upstairs with me, she was too small to navigate the stairs by herself, and put her in the bed. I took one of the beach towels, and covered her with it. For some reason she seemed to “know” that this meant, “go to sleep now”. Long story shortened, about four months later when I decided that she just couldn’t curl up in a tighter ball for sleeping, I took the bed away and I used another of the beach towels to make a circle to simulate the basinet. I thought that she was doing fine, until about three days later, I found her in the spare room where I had put the basinet, with all legs sticking out, and her, huddled in the middle of the small basinet. I know 11 years later she still misses that basinet.


The moral of this story? When you purchase the bed and bedding, remember that your pet will have a memory, and just like you are with certain favorite possessions, your dog will build security into the things that you provide for him now.


Now you can teach your child to shop because the dog will need its own food and water bowl. How big will your pet become? You will want dishes that are big enough to accommodate them. Also, how you plan to feed them, and what you plan to feed them will govern what you buy. You can see the link below they put here about Canine Nutrition and especially about feeding a puppy.


Now one thing is for sure. All animals need WATER, more than food. Not that either should ever be in short supply, however; you will want a water container that is large enough to hold plenty of water and one that you can easily and conveniently wash out DAILY. This is very important to the health of the animal. A bacterium grows in standing water. Add to that the saliva of the pet, and you have a great breeding ground for bacteria. So DAILY wash and change the water in your pet’s dish. If they are large animals, and drink a lot of water, be sure that you check it several times a day. This will help preclude kidney/bladder/urinary tract problems. Also a note here. I use real bottle water for my pets, just as I do for my family. Who knows what is in the water supply these days?


Now you are going to need an adjustable collar for the when the puppy grows into a dog and also what is called a “choke chain.” But YOU need to learn the right way to use this kind of collar or it can be horribly cruel and frightening to your dog.


The adjustable collar will stay on the pet all of the time. You will attach the rabies and identification tags to the collar. The “choke chain” is only used in training and then VERY carefully. They both have a certain fit.


The regular collar should fit tight enough to allow two fingers between the collar and the neck. Loose enough for room and yet not so loose that it will easily slip off and get lost. For cats, I prefer the break away type of collars. This is to insure that if the collar gets snagged on a limb when climbing, (if you allow them outside, which I don’t recommend) it will not hang the cat, but open to allow the cat to safely escape. There are many colors to choose from. Next the “lead” or leash. Most people buy the leash to match the collar, but the choice is yours, and this is your fun time. I, again, personally don’t care for the retraction type of leash. I don’t like them for training purposes. You end up concentrating more on how to work the leash than on the training of the dog. You will learn that cats, at least most of them, do not like leashes.


Now there are toys galore. Make sure that the toy is appropriate for the type, size and age of the animal that you are going to adopt. If you are going to get a large type dog, as puppies they do a lot of chewing. A very soft plastic or rubber toy is not necessarily the best. Many a puppy has had to go to the vet’s office to have plastic removed from the stomach. A number of very serious, painful and sometimes devastating events come from toys that are not appropriate.


I hope this has helped you sort out the basics. Be sure to read my article about Puppy Mills and Pet Shops and then you can decide whether to Buy Or Adopt a dog. Once you have decided we are ready to go home and fix the living space for your new family member in Caring For Your New Dog and of course, visit Canine Nutrition (dog food) to keep your new pet happy and healthy!


Thought to remember: "God gave us the animal in love, to care for and attend with love." EST 1998 © 00051810



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