Thursday, March 20, 2008

Compatability in your canine family

Compatibility. I hear Jenn say that word a lot. It's a very important word if you are thinking about adding another canine to your family. Adopting a dog that is compatible with your lifestyle and your family (both human and canine) is vital for harmony in your home.

Think about your lifestyle and if you have the time, energy, and finances to support another family member. Another dog will double your management time, your vet bills, and the time you spend training/exercising your dogs. Make decisions as a family agreeing that all family members will contribute to your new canine companion. Try not to make the dog one person's responsibility (particularly a child).

Take time to meet lots of dogs. Visit shelters, reputable breeders, foster homes, etc. Try not to be spontaneous and don't just adopt a dog because you feel sorry for it. This will be a 12-15 year commitment and spending time and energy to find the best dog for you can't be overstated. A great way to "test drive" a potential match and get information about personalities and temperaments is to become a volunteer for your local shelter as a dog walker. You can have the opportunity to meet many different dogs and learn more about them as individuals.

Jenn says one of the best ways to find your match is getting professional advice from a dog trainer. She/he can help you access individual dogs and how they would fit with your lifestyle and your resident dog/s. Some trainers volunteer at local shelters doing temperament evaluations to help place adoptable in the best homes. These tests are a valuable tool in the matchmaking process and can determine if dogs have underlying behavioral issues.

Don't go by good looks alone. Be sure to think about what the dog's breed or mix of breeds was meant to do. For example, a Jack Russell/Aussie cross is not going to be the "lay at your feet by the fireplace" kind of dog. Most dogs were originally bred for a purpose, and that purpose will have a lot to do with their instincts, drives, energy levels, and the amount of exercise and management they will need on a day to day basis.

Check out Jenn's Reading List for books on selecting the dog for you.

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