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Other people want to start this hobby

Dogs

Dogs are often said to be a mans best friend, and for good cause as dogs are loyal and friendly animals. Dogs are one of the most popular pets available as they can be easily trained, do not require as much care as other pets, and there are many different variations each with their pros and cons.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other resources for having Dogs as pets. We have a Dogs forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Dogs books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


One of the greatest pets in the entire world is of course the dog. They are highly intelligent, loyal beyond any other animal, fun to be around, and probably the most personable pet in the entire pet industry. Not only are they simply fantastic animals, they have been human companions for thousands of years. Although they did evolve from wolves, and still are bred with wolves in some areas of North America, they are more often than not extremely kind and gentle. Due to the large number of dog breeds and mixed dog breeds, there is a virtually endless supply of choices when it comes to the breed of dog you are interested in. There are big dogs like the Irish wolfhound, small dogs like the Chihuahua, and even long dogs like the Deerhound. Every type of dog has its own type of personality, activity level, and intelligence level, but for the most part, people purchase certain breeds because of their unique look, length of fur, and of course coloration. With such a vast selection of dog breeds, there are dogs for all different types of people and of both sexes. The second you bring a dog into your life, you will finally understand the meaning of the phrase “Man’s best friend.”




Purchasing Your First Dog


The first rule about purchasing your first dog is to buy a species that is interesting to you. Never be persuaded to purchase a dog that you don’t want because you are told it is an a “better or worse” breed than another. If it is a dog that you don’t really want, then it is a pet that you will grow tired of in the future. Regardless of what type it is that you want, you have to ensure you do all the research about it prior to purchasing it so that you take proper care of your new dog from day one. There is simply no sense in getting a dog that will grow to be ten times heavier than you or purchasing a dog that needs constant exercise if you don’t have substantial time available. Activity and size should be a major factor when purchasing a new dog, but it is far too easy to fall in love when staring into puppy eyes.




One of the most debated issues in North America right now is whether to purchase from a private breeder, a pet store, or a dog shelter. Here is an argument that is based on a few too many bad apples spoiling it for the bunch. But over the past twenty years, there have been numerous cases of poor quality puppies and dogs being sold by people thinking only of profit as their animals suffer from neglect. Thankfully, there has been numerous enthusiasts stepping forward to challenge pet stores to live up to the higher standards people expect from them and there have also been numerous pet stores in North America that have been promoting adoptions from pet shelters rather than selling dogs and puppies at all. Because of the explosion of pet dogs after the Second World War, there is a steady incline in the dog and cat population that has many people worried about the growing number of homeless and neglected pets. Although it is great if you can save a dog from a dog shelter and give it a second lease at life, there is also nothing wrong with purchasing a dog from a store or private breeder. The fact is that you will probably want a specific dog that only a breeder or store can get you so a shelter is right out. You just have to remember that pet stores purchase dogs from breeders and mark up the prices, so it would in fact be considerably cheaper purchasing a dog from a breeder.




As a general rule of thumb, always try to purchase the healthiest dog or puppy available. This is easily done by purchasing the largest in a group that has bright eyes and is active. Larger animals typically mean that they are being well fed and cared for. With dogs, assuming they are taken care of well, will generally all be of the same size and weight when you see them in a pet store window or in a litter of puppies at a breeders residence. If a dog is skinny and not active, then it is best to leave it be. It’s far too easy to succumb to a sick dog pulling at your heart strings, but when it comes to dog illnesses, there is a steep financial cost to making a sick dog well again. A healthy animal can live many years, and if you put in the time that is necessary, you will be rewarded in the long run.




Required Equipment


The great thing about dogs and puppies is that there is virtually no equipment required to giving these little guys a great home. The only type of enclosure that most people are now purchasing their dogs is a dog kennel that acts as the animal’s den when you are away, sleeping, or when traveling with your pet. Because of their den instincts, they feel quite comfortable staying in these small cages with latchable fronts, and if you are like me, then a little blanky and a couple toys are a graciously appreciated addition. Kennels should be slightly larger than the size of the dog because if it is too large, dogs will likely want to go to the bathroom in one side and sleep in the other. For the most part, most dogs will only need one size of kennel for the majority of their life, but larger dogs, like Irish Wolfhounds, Mastiffs, and St. Bernard’s, will require frequent upsizing to their kennels as they grow from puppies to adults. Although the kennel is quite useful for training reasons, it is not a necessity in any stretch of the imagination.




There is also a large variety of items you can purchase for you dog that are useful, but not necessarily required for their health. Dog collars are a great idea if you are planning to frequently walk you new pet, and the pets identification, like home address and phone number, can easily be attached to the collar should the dogs run away. Of course if you are planning on walking your dog, and leash is the best way to always maintain control over your pet’s actions. There is nothing worse than a wiener dog chasing a truck down the street . . .Trust me! Leashes and collars can also be purchased to match your dog’s personality like tough guy spiked collars or diamond studded collars for your little princess. In the same line of thought, there are numerous lines of clothing that you can purchase for you pets. This seems silly, and for the most part it is, but for short haired dog breeds, it is a very good idea to purchase jackets and booties for those cold winter months. The last random thing you should also buy is a food and water dish for your little dog or puppy. They will eat out of virtually anything, but it’s a good idea to have specific bowls that are for just the dog that could even match his personality. The one thing that all puppies and dogs of all ages need is a variety of toys. Not only do they need toys, but they also need a variety of different shapes, textures, and densities that will prevent them from chewing on household items. Not only will it save your television remote or your new pairs of socks, but it could actually aid them in their physical development. An example would be having cold toys that they can chew on when they are teething because it feels so good on their soar teeth.




A Specialized Diet


Most store-bought dog food comes in either a dry form (also known in the US as kibble) or a wet canned form. Popular Alternative Dog Food Labels are: Frozen or Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, Fresh or Refrigerated, Homemade Diet, or. Vegetarian dog foods.


Although dog food always has, and always will be highly debated by the numerous competing dog food companies throughout the world, the only real issue that I have with the above list is the idea of vegetarian food for dogs. The simple fact about dogs is that they are meat eaters, and in no way should they be fed a non-meat diet. This idea of dogs being vegetarian is nothing more than human owners expressing their way of life onto their pet. Unlike other people who can choose whether or not to eat in this way, dogs are entirely dependent on their human owners, so they have no choice in what they get to eat. As wild animals, there is now way that a dog would be willing to eat a patch of grass or a bush of berries instead of anther wild animal. Although on a side note, I’m sure my female wiener dog could lay in a strawberry plant eating berries all day if I let her.




The other highly debated item in regards to dog food is the inclusion of animal byproducts into the food. A majority of lesser quality foods support the fact that animal-by-products should be in all dog foods. What is an animal-by-product? Think of a dog food that has chicken-by-product in the ingredient list, and then imagine that the whole chicken has gone into making that dog food compared to a food using chicken meal, which is only the actual meat of the chicken. The argument behind by-products is that in the wild, dogs will eat the whole animal. This of course if absolutely true, but it not necessarily good for them to eat a whole chicken. These lesser quality pet foods are misleading because if makes it seem like you are feeding your dog chicken when you are actually feeding you dogs chicken and random parts of that chicken.




One of the best advancements in the pet food industry is the specially formulated foods for dogs allergic to common ingredients such as chicken, wheat, or corn. These foods usually contain "novel proteins" and substitute uncommon starches for the usual grains. Meats used in allergy formulas can range from the mundane, such as lamb, beef, or whitefish, to the unusual, such as venison or duck. Carbohydrates in allergy formulas are usually a less common grain, such as rice or barley, but such ingredients as potato and quinoa are sometimes used. Allergies are more likely to develop with consistent exposure to certain proteins. The problems that arise from these types of foods, especially lamb based, is that they have grown so popular that people don’t realize that they are for allergy prone animals. Not that there is anything wrong with feeding dogs without allergies, but the general idea is to feed your dog the basic chicken formula and then switch them to an allergy formula should allergies arise from the chicken. This way you can try to point out the ingredient that they are most likely allergic too. For example, I have a miniature wiener dog that is allergic to chicken, so we switched him to a herring meal. Not only is the allergic reaction gone, but the added beneficial oils from the fish alleviates his dandruff issues and the rice in the formula is great for his sensitive stomach.




Conclusion


It truly is impossible to imagine a world where dogs never existed. Owning a dog is just such a privilege that a majority of families own a dog, or have owned a dog at some point of time in their lives. The level of intelligence is simply leaps and bounds beyond any other pet you could ever think of. They are always loyal, protective, and caring to their owners. There is simply an unbreakable bond between a dog and its owner, which is like having a brother or sister, a daughter or son, or just the best friend of your life. Its simply astounding that there is such a strong connection between dogs and humans, yet their lives are so short in comparison and range between 10-15 years in length. Of course there are always exceptions to this time span, but the truth is that they never live with you forever and you have to cherish the time you have with them. There are now companies that have latched on to this emotional connection to dogs and can clone your pet so you can literally spend another dog lifespan with your favorite companion. Perhaps they are not the most unique animal in the world, but when it comes to the hobby of raising a dog from being a puppy to old age, there is no hobby more passionate that having a pet dog.