The vet’s office: Selecting the right dog for your home
By Holly Henschke, CVT
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Dogs have developed a close relationship with humans over the years, showing us love, companionship, and loyalty. It is no wonder that many people look forward to the day that they bring home their first dog from a breeder or rescue organization. Whether you adopt or purchase a dog is a personal choice. However, choosing a breed that fits into your family’s schedule and lifestyle is important.
One crucial factor to keep in mind is the energy level of the breed you choose. For example, if you are a person who enjoys an active lifestyle, then a higher energy breed or personality might be a better fit. Working dog breeds such as German shepherds, border collies, or Australian cattle dogs are hardwired to be kept busy. They require mental and physical exercise on a daily basis, or they may become frustrated out of boredom and act out in an inappropriate manner. Therefore, if you enjoy K-9 athletics, lots of physical activity, and games with your dog, these working breeds could be a great fit.
If you have limited space or time for extracurricular K-9 activities, do not worry. There are many breeds that are more suited to quiet companionship.
Use your rescue organization staff, local breeders, kennel club members, and veterinarians to do breed research before choosing your furry friend. These people want what is best for the dogs in their care and their families and are more accurate than any online quiz. They will offer excellent advice on finding a new family member that is compatible with your needs and desires.
Look also to the professional dog trainers in your area that might offer breed counseling. Cindy Steinke, founder of K-9 Elementary in Mosinee, is one such trainer. As a certified pet dog trainer, Steinke would like families to understand that getting a dog or puppy is a 10-15 year commitment. She reminds us that toy breeds can be more susceptible to injury from play and that larger breeds eat more food and can be harder on toys.
She also urges families to begin training early as puppies rarely outgrow “naughty” behaviors. People and dogs of any breed benefit a great deal from obedience classes that help establish a healthy relationship between owner and pet.
Dog behavior is a complex field of study. In simple terms, however, dogs feel most secure when they have a well-established pack hierarchy and predictable set of rules by which to live. Without these it is natural for a dog to make itself “the boss” even though it may not be suitable for the role.
Puppy and obedience classes are not all about discipline. They provide socialization, confidence, and help to make a strong human-animal bond that fosters a happy, peaceful environment.
Again, your veterinary staff has years of combined knowledge and is happy to help you.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.