Spring is finally here! The snow on the ground may linger around for a bit longer yet, but at least the days are getting longer and the temperatures rising!
March 23rd is National Puppy Day! And it's the year of the dog this year. So if you're thinking about getting a new puppy, here are a few things to ponder when deciding what type of dog to get, especially if it's your first dog. I’ve tried to break it down into 5 main categories to keep it simple.
1) Activity level: Different breeds have dramatically different activity requirements and abilities, and this isn't always related to the size of the dog. Consider the type of activities you plan on doing with your dog, as well as who will be handling the dog - are there young kids around? other dogs? Excess unharnessed energy can be displaced and redirected as anxiety, destructive behaviors, the 'zoomies', and in some cases aggression.
2) Space: A larger dog doesn't always mean you need to have a larger house or yard. That being said, if there is very limited space indoors, more time is likely needed to be spent outdoors with more stimulation and activity. Consider your living arrangements, and what size of dog is appropriate.
3) Time commitment: New puppies require a lot of time and work. At young ages, expect to get up throughout the night since they can't hold their bladders for that long. Everything from house training, to going on walks multiple times a day, cleaning up your house, grooming and vet appointments - these things take up a lot of time!
4) Health concerns: This applies not only to your dog, but also to yourself. For you – allergies are a common problem. Hypoallergenic animals can still cause allergies, they are just less likely to do so. For your dog, certain breeds are more likely to have certain issues, which should be considered especially when it comes to my last big consideration – cost. Ask your veterinarian about what these concerns may be, and what can be expected of them.
5) Costs: Pets can potentially end up costing more than a few dollars. Assuming there are no unexpected injuries or issues, regular health exams, vaccines, grooming, kennels, and dental care are things to be expected. Certain breeds are much more prone to specific problems which can require surgical or medical care, which may influence your decisions. For example, brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs are much more prone to respiratory issues that may require surgery and hospitalization; German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis; Daschunds and slipped spinal disks, Bichon's and bladder stones... you get the idea. Some of these issues can be expensive to treat, and are important to consider when selecting a breed. Look into getting Pet insurance – it can help to cover unexpected costs should the need arise.