What dog breed is best for families?

What is a bottle of Ribena concentrate great for?

Breaking up a dog fight apparently!

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I drop my kids at school every morning. It isn’t my favourite part of the day. If you spot me you’ll see me running the gauntlet of smokers, swearers and scooters before 8.30 am. This morning though, the added ‘fun’ was dogs. These dogs just looked like a mixture of muscle and teeth and I wasn’t that happy and that was before teeth crunched down on canine skull bones. It was all happening, screaming kids, shouting owners, barking and fortunately a Mum on hand with a well-aimed bottle of Ribena to break it off.

Well that was a parenting first.

A dog fight at the school gate. Just watching, I felt scared and angry. Angry that people would bring poorly trained dogs near my children. Angry for the poor dogs put in this situation. Dogs apparently can be great for families, great for children's behaviour, teach toddlers about unconditional love, there are 100s of reasons to get a dog but they are also a huge responsibility and in the spirit of complete honesty I'm not really a dog person so I spoke with John Woods the founder of All Things Dogs about choosing the right dog for your family.

Below are his ideas about how to get this big decision just right. Thanks John...

 

How to choose the right dog for YOUR family?

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Having a dog in the house with children can be nerve-wracking for new owners; a lot of things can go wrong if you don’t teach both the dog and child correct behaviours when interacting with each other.

Some dogs are excitable, causing them to jump, paw at our bodies, or even nip, which are natural behaviours between dogs. However, these are nowhere near acceptable when small children are involved. Always supervise children when they’re with the animal because human kids also like to pull on hair and poke at delicate places that the dog doesn’t want them near. If the thought of having a dog in the house with children seems like too much for you, trust your gut.  

However if you decide to adopt a new pet, whether it's your first or you’re an experienced owner, the next step is figuring out what dog is best for you. There are a lot of things to consider, even looking at the American Kennel Club’s huge index of official breeds can be daunting.    Read on and I’ll break down the essential “firsts” you should think about before choosing the right dog for your and your family’s lifestyle and needs.     

Personality

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Deciding on what kind of personality you want narrows things down a lot.   If the perfect dog for you is a lazy one, avoid looking in the Sporting and Herding dog groups. Active dogs are great for owners that go hiking, running every day, and general outdoorsy activities; children also get a kick out of them because it's like being around a sentient stuffed animal that can play with them all day long. However, these kinds of dogs are prone to destructive behaviours if they are not physically and mentally exercised every day, this can be challenging for owners that can’t block off enough time to spend caring for their animal. Lazier dogs can also be aloof, preferring to be left alone to take their naps. This can be frustrating if you would like to have a dog that is outgoing and gets along with every new person they meet.    Taking into consideration what personality you would like to have in a dog is a very good start.  

Trainability 

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Any dog breed can be trained, it is up to the owner to decide whether they would have ample time to put into a dog that might need a little more work than others with training. Breeds that are working animals are easier to train due to generations of selective breeding but that doesn’t stop some breeds from having a stubborn streak in them. A hyper, people pleasing dog can easily be corrected, but a dog that will look you straight in the eye and refuse to listen? It's a very jarring experience to be part of, and you must be prepared to take the time and be patient in the journey.  Stubborn dogs can be frustrating to work with, especially if you’re a new pet owner. Finding what really motivates them, whether it be food or toys, is key along with patience from yourself. Having a frustrated owner trying to teach a frustrated dog leads to nowhere. The pup might even act out by barking or destroying furniture because they don’t know how to do anything else.  

Grooming 

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Seeing your partner’s hair in the shower drain is nasty, but would you be able to handle hair balls around the house from your theoretical Siberian Husky?   Grooming is another big thing a lot of new owners don’t take into consideration when thinking about their new companion. Some breeds, such as the Afghan hound or Komondor, have very intense (and expensive) grooming routines in order to have a clean, decent looking animal. Other breeds shed so heavily that you’re vacuuming every day, and even then you’re still finding clumps of hair embedded in the couch cushions.    For allergy sufferers, there are many breed options out there. As a disclaimer, there are no true hypoallergenic dog breeds. All dogs have hair, no matter how “hairless” the breed claims to be, and hair creates dander, which irritates human allergies. However, less hair and less shedding in a dog helps prevent allergy attacks, clean up around the house, and saves money at the groomers.  

Health

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While purebred breeders are working hard to eliminate breed specific diseases from their favourite dog lines, there are still bad breeders out there that cut corners by not checking the health of their animals. It is very important to do as much research as possible on breeders if you decide to adopt a specific breed, and find the most reputable one to avoid as many genetic illnesses in your animal. These breeders will have done as many tests in both the parents and puppies with veterinarians for any issues before selling them to the public.    Designer breeds, like the Goldendoodle or Yorkiepoo, are not immune to getting genetic diseases either despite the popular opinion that mixed breeds are less likely to get breed specific illnesses. While this is a possibility, there is also the risk of the dog getting both of her parent’s health issues. While grooming costs are high, medical bills for our beloved pets are much more detrimental.  

Expenses

The reality of paying for your pet’s medical bills is another point to think about. Owner’s must be prepared financially to do yearly check ups at the veterinarian, get vaccines or antibacterial spray for the occasional accident, and even pay for tests as preventative care.

 

Thanks John

All those gorgeous pictures of dogs reminds me there are more than a few upsides of dog ownership and if you follow John's suggestions inviting a faithful friend into your life can hugely benefit your family. Children can often suffer with loneliness and anxiety and a constant canine companion's cuddles can be an amazing cure, not to mention the health benefits of a a twice daily walk and the feeling of security a dog can bring. Who knows maybe one day...

If you have questions for John about choosing the right dog for your family send them to nell@dad.info and we will see if he can help.

 

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