Selecting a Dog



Once you have decided to take on the responsibility of a pet dog, the next is to decide how old a dog you want—a six-weeks-old puppy or a grown The ideal is a newly weaned puppy about six weeks old. At this age puppy is dependent on its owner for feeding, companionship and protection, and your fulfilling of these requirements will build a strong bond between the puppy and you. If there are young children in the family an especially strong bond will be formed between puppy and children, mainly :ecause of the long periods each day they will spend in each other’s corn- :any. If possible, defer getting a pup until your family is complete, as some as become very jealous of a new baby..
There are, of course, some disadvantages to purchasing a pup. Toilet raining, for example, can be quite time-consuming (and frequently frustrating). Also, for the first eight to twelve months, during their teething phase. Puppies have a habit of chewing toys, socks, shoes and sometimes furniture.
One way to overcome these annoyances is to choose an older dog, but then ou may be getting somebody else’s problems. The dog may have irritating traits which will take considerable re-education. Tender loving care, however, will win. the hearts of most pups (and adult dogs).
Before you purchase a dog, ask yourself why you are buying it. Is it to be a watchdog, a companion or a sporting dog? How much time will you have ???? exercise and care for it? Will it live in an urban community, or in a country area where there is plenty of territory for the dog to run free? When you have considered these factors, together with the characteristics described earlier, you will be able to select a breed of dog that will suit your particular purpose and set of circumstances.

Color

In general, light-colored animals have weaker skin and are more susceptible to skin infections than darker-colored animals. In hot climates, they are more susceptible to sunburn and ‘hot spots’ or dermatitis.



Sex

A female desexed will make the best pet. Desexing takes place at five to six months before the bitch has her first season. Desexing makes the bitch less Likely to wander; and it eliminates the problems caused by the bitch coming :n season every six months and attracting hordes of male dogs to the house. It is an offense to allow a bitch ‘on heat’ to enter a public place, even on lead.) Desexing prevents unwanted litters and it reduces the possibility of mammary tumors and an infected womb.
Contrary to popular belief, desexing does not alter the personality of the dog, The only disadvantage is that some dogs become fat—invariably this is because the owner has not thought to reduce the dog’s diet since it reached maturity.
A male dog should be desexed if breeding is not contemplated. Domestication and confinement to urban territorial limits are completely unnatural to the male dog’s natural needs; dogs are naturally pack animals and undersexed male dogs tend to roam, gathering in public places such as schools and shopping centers where they frequently become involved in fights with other male dogs over bitches on heat in the area. A frequent consequence of this is that the dog finishes up in the pound, where it may contract diseases requiring expensive veterinary treatment. If the dog is not collected within a stipulated time, it may be destroyed at the pound.
Male dogs away from home are not fulfilling the requirement for which they were acquired—namely as a pet or as a guard dog. In addition to roaming, sexually frustrated male dogs may begin ‘riding’ children or the outstretched legs of visitors (very embarrassing to some). In order to reduce the stray dog population, it is therefore important to desex male dogs as well as female. Unfortunately, there is considerable (and illogical) reluctance on the part of dog owners to have male dogs desexed. Perhaps they should take a tip from horse owners: any male horse not wanted for breeding is always desexed (gelded) at the earliest opportunity.

Size

It is important for a prospective owner to consider the size of the territory that will be available to the dog . Small dogs will be satisfied by urban blocks of land. while large dogs require much more territorial space. Small dogs require less food; they therefore excrete less feces. which are becoming g. a problem in inner-urban areas. They also require less medication, because it is administered on a per-weight basis. In most cases the small pet will satisfy the companionship and watch-dog needs of the average urban family.



Temperament

Most dogs were bred for specific purposes, and it is only recently that many have been chosen as pets. Some breeds were developed to be aggressive hunting or work dogs. It is important to understand the temperament of a particular breed. Some breeds are prone to biting, such as Dobermans, Cocker Spaniels, Terriers, Dachshunds, Corgis, Border Collies and Cattle Dogs. It is rare for a dog to bite its owner, but it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the dog doesn’t bite visitors.

Selecting from Litter

Your own veterinary examination of your prospective purchase, particularly a puppy, is most important.
The type of care the mother received while carrying the pups—that is. vaccinations, worming and nutrition—will determine the health of her pups She should have had a vaccination booster midway through the pregnant, to confer a good immunity on the newborn pups and should have been wormed during the pregnancy to eliminate the possibility of worms in the new-born pups. A well-balanced diet—with particular attention to calcium— is important. Check the number of litters the bitch has had in the preceding couple of years. Bitches should not have more than one litter per year, as too many litters deplete the mother’s bones of essential vitamins and minerals and the puppies will therefore be weak.
At the kennels, check the surrounding area for hygiene. Check the other animals in the breeder’s establishment to ensure that they are all healthy with glossy coats.
Once you are satisfied that the breeder’s credentials are up to standard, examine the pups. Ask the breeder about their diet and the worming and vaccination program. Examine the pups at first from a distance and don’t be fooled into taking the weakest pup out of sympathy. Always select the strongest looking pup—the one with the glossy coat and bright eyes. ,Check around the anal area to ensure there is no evidence of diarrhea. If you are selecting a dog for showing, take along someone familiar with the ideal characteristics of the particular breed. Don’t select a sleepy pup. Once you have selected the pup at a distance, pick it up and feel its weight in the palm of your hand. Pick up the other puppies in the litter and compare their weight. The pup should feel firm and heavy.
Examine it for abnormalities such as a cleft palate, overshot or undershot jaw. An overshot jaw is particularly common in Collies and Whippets, and undershot jaws are common in the short-snouted dogs, such as Boxers. Maltese Terriers, and Pekinese. Check the puppy’s abdomen at the umbilicus for hernia. Count the number of digits on the toes. There should be four main digits, with a dew claw in some breeds. If the dew claw is missing, don’t be concerned as in most breeds these are snipped off when the pup is one to two days old. The puppy’s gums should be pink in color, not pale. Examine the internal area of the ear and smell this area. Some puppies have ear mites which they have contracted from their mother. Ear mites cause a smelly inflammation of the ear. In most cases this condition can be cured by the vet.
Puppies under six weeks of age should not be taken from their mother. Before taking the pup get a written copy of the diet the puppy is on. Do not change this diet for about a week to ten days, as the stresses of a change in environment are enough to upset the pup without a change of diet at the same time. Also get from the breeder the puppy’s worming history and find out when the pup should next be wormed. Collect any vaccination cards that indicate what vaccinations have been done and when the next ones are due.
If possible, obtain from the breeder a piece of cloth or blanket that has been used in the puppy’s bedding, so that on the first few nights the puppy will at least have a familiar smell around it. Make the first night comfortable for the puppy. A hot water bottle should be placed in the bed clothing, a ticking clock in his box, plus something of a smelly nature, either the piece of bedding from the breeder or perhaps a pair of used socks. And remember. nothing makes a puppy happier than a full tummy before it goes to bed.