Dog on the Couch

2016-02-04 06:00

Hi Susan, I am in the process of choosing a family dog. My children are eager to get a puppy and I feel they we are now ready for this as I now work from home. We would like a medium or medium-large sized dog. What would you recommend as a good family pet?


I think it is wonderful that you have decided to add a pet to your family now that your home life is suitable.

When responsible families adopt a pet they commit to it for its lifetime, making sure that the physical and emotional needs of the pet are understood and met. Studies have confirmed that children from these types of homes are much more likely to have greater empathy and nurturing ability.

An important consideration when getting a pet is matching your family and lifestyle to that of the breed. If the relationship isn’t successful and the dog is given up, the lessons learned will generally be negative, so careful consideration in choosing a companion animal is extremely important.

The breed you look at will have inherent behaviour traits that have been genetically wired over the years. Generally the guarding breeds will be more aggressive, the retriever group more playful, and the terrier group predatory. Looking at what work the dog was bred for will show the natural tendencies of the particular breeds you have in mind and help you make an informed choice. In mixed-breed dogs, their ancestry might to some extent be fathomable. Many have good natures. Dogs bred to hunt, such as terriers, are more independent, and once on the scent they will tend to ignore you. Shepherd types usually will be desperate to please their ‘Shepherd’ and readily obey but will tend to herd anything from toddler to granny. Retrievers and their like have sociable temperaments, adapt well to new situations and make excellent family dogs

Whatever the breed, the dog’s nature will be largely influenced by its life experiences and training.In the absence of an in-depth knowledge of your family I would recommend a Golden Retriever-type. Once you have chosen your breed, visit the parents to see if you like the temperaments. Carefully socialize and teach the puppy with lots of good and gentle exposure to a variety of experiences. Susan Henderson (accredited animal behaviourist)

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