It's hard to find a pet more loving and loyal than dogs.
No pet should be an impulse buy. Don't give in to whining and pleading as you're passing by a pet store. A pet will cost you a lot of time and money, and it will be with your family for its entire life.
To make pet ownership a positive experience, do some research before you bring a pet home. You want to know exactly what you are getting into with the type of animal you're considering, after all.
That said, it's only fair that you know all about dogs if you're considering adopting. At the beginning and the end of their lives, dogs can be a lot of work.
But if you're up for the challenge, you'll be rewarded in spades with boundless love and loyalty.
Dogs go through a golden age at about the middle of their lifespan when they are housebroken and calm.
They no longer chew your shoes, and they usually come when called. This golden age only lasts a few years. At the beginning and the end of their lives, dogs can be a loot of work.
Puppies need house-training, and they need to learn the rules of the house. Otherwise, they just might chew up everything. They are rowdy and rambunctious.
With a puppy, you pretty much need someone at home full-time for the first few months. Fortunately, they are adorable, too, so there's a payoff.
Old dogs revert to puppyhood in many ways. They can't hold their bladders as well. Accidents occur.
Multiple trips to the vet may be required for health problems. (Consider pet insurance. Seriously.)
Fortunately, by this time, they’re part of the family, so you just bite the bullet and clean up after them just like you would for Uncle Harry. (I know, I hope he doesn't need me to, either.)
For the biggest payoff, get a long-lived canine so those golden years will be worth the effort on both ends. Small breeds tend to live longer than large breeds.
On the negative side, small breeds are often noisier and more frenetic than larger dogs.
If you are a control freak who wants to make the very best choice for your home, you may want to consider buying a purebred. You can get great dogs at your local animal control facility. And you'll be doing your local community and nature a favor.
But if you have specific requirements, such as one that doesn’t shed a lot, look through breed books for canines that meet those requirements. You can find a dog that's calm, hyper, one that will protect your home and family, or a docile creature who simply curls up on your lap.
Whatever you want in a family dog - it's out there. And dog adoption is a relatively simple and inexpensive process. When it comes to size, you should know that large dogs usually need lots of exercise. And all canines need a good 20-minute walk daily.
And unlike cats, you can’t just run off for the weekend and leave a pooch home alone. Dogs are pack animals. They need people around. They also need to be walked, fed, and watered. Frequently. Think about how much time and energy you have to give a canine an attentive, loving home before you say yes.
If you're not scared off now that you know all about dogs, I can say from personal experience that choosing a dog as a family pet can be one of life's most rewarding relationships for all involved.