Do You Really Want a Dog?

-- A Decision Guide --

If you're thinking of adding a dog to your household, you're probably looking forward to the fun and companionship a dog can provide. Before you get a dog, think carefully about the positive and negative aspects of dog ownership, and honestly answer the following questions:

  • Do I have the time to care for a dog?
    (housebreaking, training, exercise, grooming, daily attention?)

  • Can I afford the cost of both acquiring and owning a dog?
    (initial purchase or adoption cost, veterinary care, food, proper amount of space, spay/neuter surgery, grooming?)

  • Can I tolerate the extra housework once the novelty wears off?
    (muddy paws, shedding hair, accidents on the rug?)

  • Is my living situation stable enough to justify acquiring a dog?
    (landlord approval, moving frequently, house-mates, frequent travel?)

  • Are my family members or house-mates willing and ready to have a dog or will it cause problems?

  • Am I willing and able to make a lifelong commitment to an animal?
    Nothing is more cruel for a social, pack animal like the dog than to find itself isolated, neglected, or abandoned by its human "pack".

  • Acquiring a dog is a decision which will have a major impact on your life and on the life of the dog. Be fair to yourself, your family, and your canine companion and make this a careful decision.

Where to Find YOUR special dog...

Animal shelter or purebred rescue group

Animal shelters have a variety of ages and breeds available for adoption, although at any one time their selection is unpredictable. Purebred rescue groups deal with one specific breed, and have adults, young adults, and older puppies available most of the time. Many of the dogs are already trained and housebroken.

Both of these agencies have many excellent pets which may have been given up because the owner had a problem (allergies, moving, no time, divorce, etc.) NOT the dog! Their staff will make every effort to be sure you find a dog which is right for you, your family, and your lifestyle. While there are no guarantees, to the degree that it is possible, the animals will have been screened for health and behavior problems, and may already have their initial vaccines.

Besides getting a great pet for a reasonable fee, you will also be helping a needy animal who deserves a second chance. Plus, you will not be contributing to the senseless over breeding which results in the euthanasia of millions of healthy animals every year.

A Reputable Purebred Hobby Breeder

Usually the most reliable source for a healthy purebred puppy.

Friends/ Neighbors/ Newspaper Ads

Caution advised! The price may be right, but before you take a dog from one of these sources find out as much as you can about why the animal is available, what its temperament is like, what health care has been provided, and what its grooming and exercise needs will be. Don't let emotions overrule common sense, and beware of claims of show quality or purebred status!

A Word About Pet shops....

Pet shops are an ideal place to buy equipment, food, and supplies to help you better care for your pets, but before you purchase a pet shop puppy, we urge you to consider the following:

Because many pet shops obtain their puppies directly from puppy mills or through dealers who buy from puppy mills, every puppy purchase is an economic vote which serves to keep an adult dog confined in an inhumane environment to breed another litter.

CKC papers do not guarantee quality, freedom from inherited genetic problems or health defects, or even purebred status. Even with 'guarantees', consumer protection in the purchase of pets is much more limited under the law than most people realize, so buyer beware!

To have the best chance of purchasing a healthy, good quality pup, consumers must rely on their own investigation of the breeder and environment in which the dog was raised.

In the case of pet shop puppies, the actual breeder and origin may be difficult to determine. Don't let a local address or origin give you a false sense of security! Puppy mills exist here in Waterloo County.

Since several brokers or middlemen may be involved, the selling price of a pup may end up highly inflated, especially when compared to a pet quality dog from a reputable hobby breeder.

Since the motive for selling these animals is profit, there is little incentive for discussing the needs and characteristics (including disadvantages) of a particular breed with prospective buyers. Such a discussion is extremely important to be sure that the dog suits a buyer's expectations and requirements in a pet, and is best provided by an expert in that particular breed.

Right In Our Own Backyard .....

CKC Registration: What Do "Papers" Mean?

It's a popular misconception that you can't go wrong with a dog that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) The reality is:

Even if bred by top breeders, only a fraction of puppies will ever be show quality. Registration "papers" are NOT a guarantee of show quality, health or temperament.

The CKC is primarily a registry body which can only guarantee the information on "papers" is as accurate as reported to it by the breeder! The accuracy of this information depends entirely upon the integrity and reputation of the breeder. The risk of obtaining fraudulent papers increases with the number of brokers or dealers between the breeder and the purchaser.

Just because a dog's parents have "papers" (were CKC registered) or were "Champions" does not mean that their puppies are of show quality or free of hereditary defects or future problems.

Choosing Your Dog .....

Choosing a Purebred Puppy

With over a hundred breeds to choose from you'll need to do some careful research. Each breed has its own unique appearance, temperament, behavior characteristics, medical problems, grooming and exercise requirements.

First decide what characteristics are important to you, your family, and lifestyle.

Get the names of reputable breeders in you area from the local SPCA, your veterinarian or CKC.

"Interview" breeders about their experience with dogs and their knowledge of the breed. To best understand individual breed characteristics, a reputable breeder will at most have only one or two breeds available.

Be prepared to have the breeder interview YOU about your requirements and expectations in a dog and your ability to care for it properly. Conscientious breeders want to make sure their puppies go to good homes.

Always try to meet the puppies' parents and previous offspring of those parents if possible. Inspect the kennel conditions. If you aren't comfortable with what you see, look elsewhere!

Talk with your veterinarian about the potential hereditary problems in any breed you are considering. Ask the breeder if the parents have been certified as free of these disorders: hip dysplasia, bleeding disorders, and eye problems are the most common.

Just a note: "combination' breeds such as Peke-a-Poos, Cock-a-Poos, Schnoodles, and other variations may be adorable but they are not purebreds in the eyes of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)

Have You Considered an Adult Dog?

For people who don't have the time or patience to go through the trials and tribulations of puppy-hood, an adult dog presents a great alternative. Consider these advantages:

The dog's size, looks, and temperament are already known. It may be calmer, housebroken, and already socialized to families, children and other pets.

An adult dog may have some obedience training; if not, this may be easier to accomplish due to a longer attention span.

Many adult dogs need homes because of the owner's personal situation, NOT because the dog has any problems.

The dog may already be spayed or neutered, a considerable cost savings.

You can have the satisfaction of giving an older dog a second chance!

Your local SPCA or Humane Society is a good source of adult dogs, both mixed and purebreds.

Contracts: Read Before You Sign!

You may be asked to sign a contract before you take your puppy home. Read everything carefully and make sure you understand and agree to ail terms before you sign. Don't be afraid to ask questions!

Most caring breeders will ask you to sign a CKC non-breeding contract. Please understand this is a good thing. Not only does it ensure no litters of unwanted puppies, it helps breeders who spend large amounts of time and money to breed healthy puppies and their quality breeding remains intact.

Some contracts from breeders may require you to agree to a certain number of breedings of your puppy and/or to return the pick of the litter from those breedings before obtaining full ownership or registration documents! This is not recommended! It leads to pet overpopulation and poor breeding practices. If you purchase a pet quality puppy from a breeder, the breeder may withhold papers until the dog is spayed or neutered in order to discourage you from breeding the dog and to prevent any offspring from being shown or sold as purebreds.

When you adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue group, you will be required to sign an agreement to have your dog spayed or neutered!

These contracts are enforced!

Training .....

How to Select a Dog Trainer

Dog training is much art as science; there is no one method that works for every dog or every person. There are no regulations concerning who can call themselves a trainer, and experience alone is not a guarantee of quality or success, so consumers must make their own evaluation!

References from breeders or veterinarians are helpful, but you must always watch a few training sessions yourself to evaluate trainers and their methods. Some trainers or clubs may offer only group classes, others - private tutoring, or even training/boarding packages. The techniques used to train dogs range from very harsh to very passive. Always beware of harsh methods, or "closed door" training sessions, and get a second opinion if you see anything which bothers you.

It is important to ask trainers questions such as: How many dogs have they trained? How would they correct an adult dog... a puppy? Do they use leadership or dominace techniques?

How do they deal with aggressive dogs ...passive dogs? What equipment do they use (choker collar and lead, prong collars and shock collars)?

The Benefits of Training

Basic obedience training is NOT just for the show ring. Training enhances the relationship between a dog and its new owner and establishes proper communication. Every dog will be a better behaved pet and more desirable companion if it goes through some basic obedience training. It is important for small dogs as large dogs. And don't think you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

Spaying/Neutering .....

The Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Dog

Keeping your dog from adding to the pet overpopulation problem in our country is an important part of responsible dog ownership. Sterilization surgery (spaying for females and neutering for males) also has advantages for both you and your pet:

There may be less tendency for the dog to roam and fight, urinate inappropriately, or be aggressive.

Spayed or neutered dogs may tend to be gentler and more affectionate.

The surgery, especially if performed at a young age, may substantially reduce the risk of breast cancer and life threatening uterine disease in females and prostatic disease in males when they become older.

Spaying or neutering may increase the life span of your petl

Spaying or neutering is a safe surgical procedure when performed by a veterinarian using modern anesthetic techniques.

....and a few Tall Tales!

Neutering doesn't cause dogs to become overweight or lazyl Adult dogs need fewer calories than a growing pup, and if they are fed more than they need, they will get fatl It's that simple.

Neutering doesn't cause undesirable personality changes.

Neutering doesn't stop the dog from being protective of your home and family.

Millions of healthy dogs are euthanized every year because someone had to have "just one litter." Please, don't contribute to this unnecessary waste of life-talk to your veterinarian today about having your pet surgically sterilized.

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