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Picking a Dog

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There are two types of dogs - purebred and mixed breed. The 124 recognized breeds are grouped into seven categories:
  • hound
  • working
  • terrier
  • toy
  • sporting
  • nonsporting
  • herding
There are thousands of mixed-breed combinations, and each has a unique personality. Mixed breeds can be as beautiful, intelligent., loving, and as companionable as purebreds. You should also consider temperament, size, and coat. Some breeds have traits that may be objectionable, such as hyperexcitability or a tendency for barking. Dogs that are bred for a specific purpose tend to retain these characteristics.

Selecting a specific breed does not guarantee a particular behavior, but choosing offspring from animals with desirable temperaments does increase one's chances of getting the best pet.

Friend or Protector?
Most dogs bark when strangers approach their home or yard. This bark is usually enough to deter intruders. Pets should not be trained as attack dogs. These require special handling and knowledge to prevent accidental injury to people, including members of your own family.
Puppy or Older Dog?
You can teach an old dog new tricks. You don't have to get a puppy to train it the way you like. If you decide on a puppy be prepared for several months of housebreaking and initial medical expenses. For some families, the best choice is an older housebroken dog whose temperament, size, coat care, and behavior are established. When adopting or buying an adult dog, inquire about its background. Ask shelter personnel or the breeder what they have observed about its personality. Some animals are given to shelters because of behavioral problems.
Selecting a Puppy
Pick a puppy that's active, friendly, and inquisitive. Avoid the one that appears to be afraid of everything or snarls at people. If you select a timid puppy because you feel sorry for it, be aware that such puppies may be fearful throughout their life. Fearful dogs sometimes become aggressive and bite. If getting a puppy from a breeder, ask to see the dog's parents. Call owners of related dogs about their dogs' behavior and health patterns.
Teach Good Manners
Obedience training is an excellent way to get a puppy or adult dog off to a good start. No matter how even-tempered a dog may be, it still needs to learn how to be a well-mannered member of the family. Obedience training is fun. It helps prevent negative encounters between family members and the dog. It reinforces the bond between the handler and pet. Talk to vets, breeders, local training clubs, recreation centers, and newspapers on dogs or pets for details about classes, costs, and requirements.
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