Find the right dog for you

DOGS are crimefighters, loyal, fun and interesting companions. But they are complex creatures that need the care of a well-informed human being.

DOGS are crimefighters, loyal, fun and interesting companions. But they are complex creatures that need the care of a well-informed human being.

Choosing a dog

Though they say a dog is a man's best friend, it helps if you choose your friends wisely.

Think about how a new dog is going to change your life. He or she is going to take time to feed, groom and exercise.

Dogs are social animals and they'll want and need to spend quality time with you. It's important that you and the dog are a good match.

Guidelines to help you pick a dog

Adopting a puppy

Puppies are usually adorable, so they tug at your heartstrings. But it can be difficult to judge a dog's personality when he's only a few weeks old, not to mention whether he'll grow into a healthy adult.

Here are some clues to look for:

l The eyes and nose should be clear and clean, not red or runny.

l The puppy's coat should be clear and shiny.

l Check the puppy's belly. All pups tend to be potbellied after they have eaten, but a puppy with a noticeably swollen belly has a good chance of harbouring worms.

l Check for discharge from the rear end and chronic coughing and sneezing.

Adopting an adult dog

For many people an adult dog is the way to go. But adult dogs come with their own set of ingrained habits. As challenging as it can be to train a puppy, a stubborn adult dog can be just as much of a headache.

Adopting a purebred dog

Some prefer purebreds, possibly because they like a particular breed or are considering showing the dog or breeding it themselves.

Knowing a dog's ancestry can be an added joy to ownership, and can open the door to entering your dog for competitions.

Adopting a mixed-breed dog

For some, a mixed breed is the way to go because they love knowing no one has a dog quite like theirs, or they like knowing they rescued a pooch from a shelter. A mixed breed can also allow you to tailor the height and weight of a dog that would be perfect for you.

Buying a dog from a breeder

Buying from a breeder is obviously more expensive than adopting from a shelter, but a dog from a reliable breeder comes with more security, and you can rest assured that significant problems will be attended to.

Adopting a dog from a shelter

When you adopt a dog from a shelter you might also be saving its life, but there are some things you should know about the animal.

Ask yourself the following :

l What size dog will fit into your home? Make sure you know how big the dog will get, because large dogs need space.

l Who's going to exercise the dog and clean up after it? If your space is limited, choose a dog that's a natural homebody, not an outdoors lover.

l The cost of dog food can overstretch an already tight budget.

l If you have children, make sure it's a dog that gets on well with little ones.

l Other questions include deciding on a male or female, and choosing an adult dog or a puppy. - www. howto. com