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Jan 11 2018

Preparing to get a dog?

Congratulations on thinking about adding a dog to your family! Dogs are one of the most popular furry family members. From finding a kid-friendly canine to budgeting for veterinarian visits, there are things you need to know before getting a dog.  Understanding their general behavior will help you decide whether a dog is the right pet for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

Dogs are social animals who are happy in many different environments as long as they’re with their family. This explains why dogs tend to follow their owners around. Unfortunately, in some cases these same dogs can get anxious when left alone because they are so attached to their owners and spend most of their time with them.  How dogs behave towards people is a result of breed and personality differences, their previous experiences, and guidance from an owner. It is important that owners gently guide their dog about what is acceptable behavior, making sure they are consistent and clear about expectations. Dogs like routine and stable habits. Therefore, they are happy when owners set limits. Providing a dog with what it needs will also help make sure the dog is happy in the home.

Before deciding to get a dog, the veterinarians in Richmond Hill recommend considering a variety of factors including:

  • your lifestyle
  • your availability
  • differences in species/breed
  • any current pets
  • cost of ownership

Your lifestyle:

A happy home for a pet includes playtime, social interactions, proper nutrition and medical attention, behavioral training, and many other ways of giving them a fun and interactive life. When getting a dog, it is important to understand what you are looking for and what your expectations are of your new animal. Research has shown that the success of a human-companion animal relationship is influenced by whether an owner’s expectations can be met by the dog and whether the needs and lifestyle of the owner and personality of the dog match. Owner expectations can relate to the time and effort required in caring for your dog (e.g. walks, training, veterinary visits), the role of the dog in the household (e.g., friend, protector), and the annual cost of owning a dog. Therefore, before choosing a new dog, it is beneficial to think about your schedule, your household members, living situation, and the type of personality you would like your new dog to have.

Your availability:

Spending an adequate amount of time with your new dog will help you create a positive, close relationship. If you have more than one pet, it is important that you spend individual time with each animal to nurture your relationship with each pet.  Much like having a child, adopting a dog means you take on the responsibility of a living being whose needs often come before your own desires. That usually translates to giving up more time for your pet than you might be used to — or want to.

Species differences:

Though you may have always dreamed of owning a poodle or a German shepherd, it’s important to know what you’re in for with each type of dog before you head to the shelter or breeder. It is critical the breed you choose matches your lifestyle.  “We fall in love with the form but don’t always realize that temperaments can be extremely different,” said JoAnn Wilson of “Often people think all dogs are the same and they just have different exteriors.”  Every breed has a personality of its own and knowing in advance what exactly that is could save you a lot of trouble down the road. “People seem upset when a Lab is chewing,” Wilson said. “But that’s what they do.” Dogs are social creatures and tend to spend a lot of time with members in their social group. However, there are always some that may dislike being around other animals or become uncontrollable in uncertain situations.   The veterinarians in Richmond Hill recommend making a list of your availability/expectations before considering a breed.  Things like how often are you prepared to walk a dog, how much are you home, what kind of grooming do they need, are they generally good with kids/other animals, what illnesses are they predisposed to, what sort of costs are associated with this breed etc.  This allows you to more accurately identify what you are prepared to do.  The following link gives great insight into different breeds,, as well speaking to someone who currently has the dog species you may be looking at adopting/buying or a breeder or your veterinarian in Richmond Hill can help identify a good match for you and your family.

Your current pet:

Choosing an animal that will fit in with your resident pet will help a lot. Understanding the health, activity level, and personality of your current pet(s) and the new pet you are thinking of bringing home will allow you to foresee any problems and help accommodate them. For example, a slower, older dog may not get along with a high energy puppy that wants to play all day.  The specific situation in which dogs meet and their prior experiences can affect their reactions to meeting and interacting with other dogs. When two adult dogs first meet, they have no idea how the other likely to react. This explains why both dogs may be nervous and on guard at first. As they spend more time together, they will learn how the other dog will most likely behave in different situations and change their own behavior to respond to that. The veterinarians in Richmond Hill recommend if possible, have your current pet meet with a prospective pet to ensure they are compatible before adopting/buying them.

Cost of pet ownership:

There are many costs associated with pet ownership. Unfortunately, the cost of your furry new friend doesn’t stop at the adoption or purchasing fee and dog food. In addition to the usual wellness exams and vaccines at the veterinarian in Richmond Hill, heart worm medication, flea and tick prevention and additional procedures can add up.  Looking into pet insurance ( before you get a dog is helpful as it may help alleviate the cost of medical expenses.

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Julia Lohasz

Practice Manager

Bayview Seven Animal Hospital

“Your healthy companion is our pride & joy”

Bayview Seven Animal Hospital, a veterinary clinic located on Hwy.7, one block West of Yonge, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Vaughan and North York since 1988. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, rabbits, pocket pets and birds.

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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