Many of the problems and pitfalls of dog ownership could be avoided by selecting a dog to suit the family's needs. Unfortunately most people are far more likely to go on appearance alone. Here are some things to consider when getting a dog or puppy.

Factors to consider when selecting a dog

Breed size

  •  Fencing – adequate to contain the dog.
  • Size of your property – should be large enough for the size of dog.
  • Exercise – certain breeds require considerable daily exercise.
  • Accommodation – a quality kennel is essential if the dog is to live outside.
  • Feeding – can you afford the food requirements for your dog?

Breed type

Purchase prices vary. Some breeds are prone to constant medical problems. Some breeds have high maintenance requirements with grooming and husbandry care. Some will moult, some will dribble.

Behaviour

Some breeds are prone to follow traits which, if not controlled, will lead the owner into conflict situations with other residents and Council.

  • Jumping – containment problem.
  • Digging – containment problem and wrecked gardens.
  • Howler – conflict with neighbours.
  • Aggression – containment problems, legal liability problems.
  • Not very brainy – difficult to train and control.

Age – Pups

Pros Cons
  • Extremely rewarding
  • Character can be moulded
  • Training can be consistent, teaching fetch must be done around 8–12 weeks for instance
  • Initial veterinary costs can be considerable
  • Time consuming with care and assimilation
  • Crossbreeds are an unknown quantity as you can't be sure what they will look like as the finished product
  • Not able to determine temperament

Age – Adults

Pros Cons
  • Cheaper initial costs if previous vet history known
  • Already toilet trained
  • Temperament and character established
  • Harder to train
  • Bad habits are established and you will inherit the problems when you become the owner
  • Depending on maturity, old age vet costs may come sooner
  • For an older dog you may have their company a shorter time 

Breed types

Pure breed or crossbreed 
The advantage of picking a pure bred dog is that you can predict it's adult appearance and behaviour. With many crossbreeds, it is anybody's guess. Crossbreeds are just as lovable, usually less expensive to buy and maybe less likely to show genetic defects than their pedigreed cousins, so on the issue of crossbreed versus pedigree it comes down to personal choice. Poor choice of breed, however, can lead to neighbour disputes and conflict with Council.

Remember: Think ahead when you are tempted by the cuddly little puppy sitting at your feet, in twelve months time, it may look and act quite differently

Council libraries have a selection of books that provide excellent information to guide the prospective dog owner with their choice. Breed clubs offer information on specific breeds you may be interested in. Breed shows offer an excellent chance to see all the various breeds at one time for comparison and the opportunity to talk to the different breeders. Local breeders can be approached for information.

If economy is the operative word, then the Animal Shelter may be the way to go to obtain a healthy dog at minimal cost. The Council encourages prospective dog owners to adopt rather than shop so as to to give good homes to current dogs and not add dogs to the population.

Remember, choose well, you could have your dog for up to 12 years.

Male or female – facts to consider

Male Female
  • Are more aggressive
  • Prone to dog fighting
  • More difficult to control
  • Prone to wandering
  • Easier to train
  • More submissive than males
  • Easier to train
  • Better with children
  • Prone to mood swings during heat cycles

De‐sexing helps both male and female dogs

Male Female
  • Less wandering
  • Less aggressive
  • More placid
  • Reduced future medical problems
  • Elimination of unwanted pregnancies
  • Elimination of heat cycle mess
  • No visiting suitors
  • Reduced future medical problems

Puppy development

"What the puppy learns now will shape it into the kind of dog it will be for evermore."

  • Research development and temperament information on the breed you are considering.
  • Talk to your vet about vaccines and when to desex it.
  • Puppy-proof your property.
  • Remember to register your dog before the thirteenth week.

Acquiring a puppy at the right age and providing it with the proper atmosphere during the critical periods of its life (when character and personality are being formed) is the only absolute way that the man/dog relationship, character traits, and trainability can be pre‐determined and pre‐ordained.