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Re: Which dog for the family?

I would also suggest a young adult shelter dog for your family. Being your first dog it would be difficult to weed out a good breeder from a not so good breeder. And you'll be paying a lot for a dog from a breeder, unless of course, they are a not-so-good breeder.

I have volunteered at a shelter for several years now and see wonderful dogs find fantastic homes with great families.

For an average young family with children, first time dog owners I would avoid hounds (follow their nose and will often become strays), herding (tend to nip at people/children due to herding instinct), sight hounds (can't be left off lead as they instinctually chase anything that moves), guard breeds (may have been taught human aggression by past owner), and toy dogs (too small).

I would look for some nice medium sized mixed breed. I would first go to the shelter without the children and make a short list of dogs that interest you. Ask the kennel attendants about the dogs. They are there every day feeding and cleaning, they know a lot about most of the dogs in their care. Ask at the front desk if they have any notes on the past life of the dog. If the dog was surrendered by an owner (death, divorce, moving) they may have info about housetraining, behavior, obedience, etc. But take this with a grain of salt. A lot of people think that their dogs are incredibly obedient and housebroken, but maybe not. If the dog was a stray then you will have little to go on.

Then visit with the dogs that are still on your list. Have a tennis ball and a small squeaky toy along. See if the dog has interest in playing and will easily give the toy back, without growling or biting. Usually interest in toys and interacting wtih you and the toy shows that the dog wants to please you and play with you, all good since you have small children. Try to rub the dog's belly. Some dogs will roll over and enjoy it. Others may have been hit or hurt in the past and will avoid showing their most vulnerable parts, the belly. I prefer a dog that likes a good belly rub. Then let the dog wander around the room. Casually walk over to the dog and touch the hips, gently yank the tail, touch the ears, and approach the face with a hand. If the dog is unimpressed by your poking and prodding, that's good again.

Now your list should be a bit shorter. This is when you bring the kids to visit (you don't want them to fall in love with a dog that is not tempermentally appropriate, which you will have determined by your first visit). First just have the kids sit with you and see how the dog investigates them. The dog should be curous without any lunging, barking, or growling. Then gently let the kids walk around a bit. The dog should not try to knock them over, play rough, or approach the child too aggressively. If all is going well, just observe the dog with your kids. Invariably a child will touch a dog along the back or hips, ears, and face. See how the dog reacts.

You'll know when you've hit the jackpot. When I look into a visitation room and see a toddler sitting on the floor with the dog gently mouthing a toy that the child is holding, and the older child touching the hind quarters at the same time without any reaction from the dog, and then the dog rolls over to be belly rubbed...that's the right dog with the right family.

Remember that some dogs in shelters may have been there for a while. I tend to choose dogs that haven't been there too long, maybe a week or two at the most. The longer a dog is at a shelter the more squirrelly their behavior becomes and it is difficult to tell if the energy is pent up due to boredom, or true aggressiveness. So you may not find the right dog immediately. But if you let the shelter know what you are looking for and visit every week, eventually you will find just the right dog.
 

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It really is sometimes the best place to get a dog. Whilst you might not get to learn alot about the dogs ancestory you get to know all about its true personality ( which a breeder will not ever really truly tell you- not because breeders are bad, but because they have an emotional attatchment to each pup- they are like grandparents lol- and they want everyone to love and want their new arrivals) .
A shelter will tell you all the things about your new dog, theyre likes and dislikes etc. they can be really helpfull!
And for those looking for cute/little/"designer crosses" many shelters have these they just tend not to advertise these as they go soo fast, i know a shelter near me had chihuahua papillion puppies very recently .. man i nearly adopted the whole bunch!
However dont feel bad if a shelter turns you down because you have young children etc this doesnt make you a bad person for buying a dog, many training centres will help you chose a puppy now, yay!
By the way britday- your pap looks gorgeous..
 
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