So lets talk about getting a dog for your family. I love dogs. I am a dog person. However I had a lot of cats in my life… ( I rescued a lot of them) but still….I AM DEFINITELY A DOG person 🙂
I grew up with dogs and I know how much fun they are. I had a poodle and a rottweiler. I had them back in my country when I was a child/teenager.
Well, now it is my turn to be a mother and a dog owner at the same time 🙂
How it all started…..
Last summer our older daughter was playing soccer, while me, our younger daughter and my hubby were sitting on our ground pad watching her play. All of the sudden some parents showed up with their new french bulldog puppy… That puppy loved our pad from the first sniff and he just passed out on it. This is a little guy….look at him 🙂 Awweeee….. I know…. our older daughter was too busy playing, but the youngest one was ALL OVER this puppy….
So this time…no crazy thoughts crossed my mind… YET.
However… every time we came for soccer, this little guy came by, together with other 3 dogs that other families brought with them. That is when I noticed that my little girl isn’t anywhere near us, she was all over the doggies. Wherever they went – she was there. We tried to stop her….useless.
And this is when me and my husband looked at each other realizing that we were doomed.
Of course all the hard research and decisions fell down on me. Who else… I know, what a “surprise” heh…
And this is what I wanted to share with you. How to chose a right dog for yourself and your family.
I started off with shelter/abandoned dogs.
This is a great site to find these kind of dogs. The Petfinder. https://www.petfinder.com/
Petfinder is an online, searchable database of animals who need homes. It is also a directory of nearly 14,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Organizations maintain their own home pages and available-pet databases.
What I liked about them is that they give you a lot of information about the animal, its behavioral problems, medical, foster notes etc.
I made about 6 applications and wrote to 3 different specific breed rescues, every time the dogs were given to someone else. Maybe its the fact that I have 2 small kids that turned them off. I don’t know. But I couldn’t risk with the decisions, since I do have 2 small kids. I compared dogs for adoption from USA locations and from Canada ( Ontario) locations. USA definitely had waaay more dogs to chose from.
Then I sat down and started thinking what kind of dog I wanted. I started to do research. Because if you are prepared for a specific “problems” of the breed – it will go way easier afterwards and without any unpleasant surprises.
While researching I found this nice helpful site that described not only what is good about the specific breed, but also what is bad about that exact breed.
This is the site: http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com.
I love medium to large size breeds. If before I was sure that there are perfect breeds….then after reading and researching I realized that there is absolutely NO ideal breed. All of them have flaws. Just like us- humans. Nobody is perfect. I get that.
So I sat down and made a list what is it that is important for me and our family to have in our dog..
These things are:
- Our dog should show absolutely no signs of aggressiveness
- Be very responsive to training
- Easy care coat
- Easy housebreaking
- Smart, loyal and understanding
- Kids and family loving
- And since I am very sensitive to smell….no strong doggy odor.
This was my list. So the research brought me down to a Labrador and Golden Retriever. And then after comparing these 2 even further – it came down to a Labrador. This family friendly dog firmly holds on to the number one spot on the most popular list for a record-breaking 26th consecutive year.
And even though it is the most popular dog, it is not perfect.
Here are some flaws of this breed that some people don’t know about or might find a problem.
So lets see… the things you ( me) must be prepared for are:
- Tendency to chew on objects and to mouth your hands
- Providing a goodly amount of exercise, not just a couple of short walks around the block
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young or not exercised enough
- Leash pulling
- Some health problems
- Always hungry will not stop eating ( anything)
- Young puppy has very sharp teeth and bites a lot ( painful to small kids)
So I decided that I want a dog that would grow with our kids. After some discussion we decided that it would be best for us to get a puppy.
And here comes the point about lab’s health problems. Inbreeding is extremely high in Labradors, which has led to a host of health problems becoming embedded in the gene pool.
In order to get a healthy puppy – you need to buy him from a reputable breeder, not a backyard breeder and not from a pet store. Because reputable breeder will never sell their puppies to a pet store. Breeder will have to see you and question you first, before deciding if they want to sell you their puppy. They will also show you health checks of the parents and make sure that these parents aren’t related.
We did some research and chose from the few CKC ( Canadian Kennel Club) registered breeders. We really liked the Cooperslane Kennel.
After meeting them, checking their dogs and talking to them we left our deposit and waited when our puppy will arrive.
So our puppy was born in September and we took him home in November 🙂 We came visit him, his brothers and sisters and his parents few times before we took him home 🙂
These are the pictures from our visits 🙂
We chose a boy and named him Loki. He is somewhere here 🙂
Aren’t they cute 🙂
And this is his daddy ( sooo handsome! 🙂 ):
Now…talking about good breeders. Good breeder will not just give you ANY puppy you see or want. Good breeder will perform a puppy test on all puppies when they are 7 weeks old. What is puppy test? Puppy test is a Volhard’s puppy aptitude test. You can read about it in here:
Basically….its a test to make sure that this particular puppy will fit you family, your lifestyle and your character. Although one particular breed has some characteristics that describe that breed…..dogs/cats…are just like us – humans, all have their own personality. And a lot of times 2 dogs of the same breed will be a complete opposite of each other. This test makes sure, that you get a dog, that will satisfy you. For example, if you are a very active person who loves hiking… you don’t want a lazy coach potato dog…. Or if you prefer to stay home and aren’t very outdoor and active person, you don’t want a hyperactive dog, who cannot handle your relaxed lifestyle.
Here is a quick description what this test is about:
“The tests are as follows:
1. Social Attraction – degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence.
2. Following – willingness to follow a person.
3. Restraint – degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.
4. Social Dominance – degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.
5. Elevation – degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.
6. Retrieving – degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.
7. Touch Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.
8. Sound Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.
9. Sight Sensitivity – degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.
10. Stability – degree of startle response to a strange object. ”
The breeder asked my preferences and asked me about my family….and after the test – they chose a puppy that fit us and our lifestyle the best.
Knowing all the “bad” habits of a Labrador and after reading and talking to our very knowledgeable breeder – I was prepared.
In order to save Loki from chewing something dangerous or something that he isn’t suppose to chew – I crate trained him. It took me a week. A very hard week. But we did it.
Also, for the first week I took him out every 2-3 hours, since his bladder is very small ( while he is a small puppy) and cannot hold it any longer. It gets better with time. Today he is 7 months old and can easily hold it for 8 hours. And overnight.
For the first 3 weeks I slept downstairs on the couch so Loki wouldn’t be too scared and in order to take him out to pee. I had my alarm on every 3 hours. And my hubby decided to support me and he spent every single night out of these 3 weeks with me on the couch ( and I LOOOOOVE him for that, tank you darling!!! ). Our backs were killing us afterwards, but we did it!
Loki was crate trained and housebroken ( housebroken in 1 week actually).
In regards to nipping – we worked on it. There is a lot of literature about how to stop your puppy from nipping. For example there is one in here.
In regards to chewing…First of all take away all your shoes/socks and other things from the floor that aren’t suppose to be there on the first place. Because the way your dog sees it: This is on the floor – it means it is for me.
Second – this dog need exercise. There is a good old saying…. A good dog – is a tired dog. So let him get tired.
This is Loki getting tired out 🙂
And this is Loki being a good dog afterwards 🙂
And in regards to shedding….. Make sure you have a good vacuum cleaner and what I personally found very helpful is a Furminator DeShedding tool. It helps a LOT.
Food. Labradors are prone to obesity. This have something to do with their missing gene….
Please read more info in here: http://www.thelabradorsite.com/fat-labrador
So please make sure you aren’t overfeeding your Labrador, even though he will ALWAYS look like he is hungry.
Loki is a red fox Labrador. Red fox – is the darkest variation of a yellow Labrador ( white Labrador being the lightest variation of a yellow Labrador).
By the way I post a lot of pictures and videos of Loki. If you are ever interested – check him out on his Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/lokitheredfoxlab
Remember these simple steps in choosing the right dog for your family so you won’t have any regrets or unexpected surprises afterwards.
Woof woof woof! 🙂