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Starting off Right

Choosing your dog is very important. Dogs come in many different shapes, sizes, and temperaments.  Looks should not be the most important consideration.  Learn about the various breeds, and consider what traits will fit best with your personality and lifestyle. 

If you choose to adopt a pet, go to your local shelter and get a dog off death row.  Don't go in with an idea of what your dog should look like—instead, talk to the kennel attendants about which dogs are friendly and calm.

Being in a shelter is very stressful to dogs. Your new friend’s real personality won’t show for two or three weeks.  Once your dog calms down, you will find that she wants to be in charge.  Older dogs are great if you don't want a ball of energy bouncing off the walls.  If you have children, be especially careful to choose a dog that will get along well with them.  Some breeds are especially good with children, including Labradors and golden retrievers.     

If you want a pedigreed dog, go to a reputable breeder.  Do not buy a dog from a pet store.  Dogs from pet stores come from puppy mills, which are notorious for poor breeding practices, and they are motivated solely by how much they can get for the puppies.  Visit the Web site of the American Kennel Club, talk to people, and do your research before you buy.  Avoid breeders who offer to give you full breeding rights, because conscientious breeders want only experienced people to breed their dogs. If you find a veterinarian who is also a breeder, that may be a good indication that the puppies will be healthy, well bred, and true to the standard of the breed.

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