Never buy a dog on a whim, as a surprise gift, or without consulting the rest of the family. Consider first whether you or the intended owner can accept the responsibility of feeding, walking, and training a dog and of providing proper medical care.
If the answer is yes on all counts, then consider the type of dog. Do you want a guard dog or a pet for the children? Small or large? An inexpensive mongrel or a purebred? In considering a purebred, study the American Kennel Club breed descriptions. Try to buy a dog directly from the breeder.
A dog acquired from a pet shop or an animal shelter may have changed hands several times under stress. Ask for a medical guarantee and for an agreement that you can return the dog within a reasonable time if it becomes overly aggressive or shy. What to look for in a puppy The best time to choose a puppy is at 7 to 8 weeks of age, when it should be weaned, is lively, and can walk and run. A healthy puppy has clear eyes, a smooth coat, and is alert and playful. Avoid a dog with runny eyes or nose, a potbelly, a cough, or diarrhea.
A friendly puppy will approach you, happy to be petted. If a puppy nips at your ankles and resists petting, it may turn into an aggressive, hard to train dog. A puppy that shrinks away from you maybe ill or already showing nervous or shy tendencies.
Have a veterinarian examine your dog as soon as possible for worms and general fitness. Give him the dog’s immunization record, if any, and schedule further shots. Puppies should be inoculated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza at 6 to 8 weeks, at 9 to 11 weeks, and again at 3 to 4 months. Annual boosters are essential. Rabies shots are given at 3 to 6 months and thereafter at 1- to 3-year intervals. Unless you plan to breed a dog, ask your veterinarian about the pros and cons of altering it.
Feed your puppy a commercial puppy food three times a day (twice daily after 6 months). By 1 year it should be eating adult dog food once a day. Most canned, dry, or semidry dog foods provide balanced nutrition. You can add cottage cheese, cooked eggs, or cooked lean meat, but such supplements should constitute no more than 20 percent of the dog’s diet. Provide plenty of fresh water; change it twice daily. Follow your veterinarian’s advice on vitamin supplements.
Grooming a dog
Accustom a puppy early to regular grooming sessions. Hold it in your arms and gently brush it while talking reassuringly. The average dog needs brushing once or twice a week. While brushing, check for skin problems.
Bathe a dog if its coat becomes dirty or foul smelling. Wash it in a tub or sink with warm water and a mild dog shampoo. Rinse and towel dry it thoroughly. Keep the dog indoors and away from drafts until it is dry.
Unless a dog’s nails are worn down by outdoor activity, trim them periodically with special clippers; cut only the pointed tip of each nail. A mild boric-acid wash will usually clear up eye discharge; if it doesn’t, see your veterinarian. Chewing on a rawhide bone once a month helps prevent the buildup of tooth tartar. Daily exercise
Take your dog for a long walk in the morning, before bedtime, and after its main meal. Keep to a regular schedule; don’t overexercise a dog after a large meal or on weekends to make up for a sedentary week. Training your dog
As soon as you bring your puppy home, start housebreaking it. By 5 months it can begin learning to heel, sit, lie down, come, and stay on command. Be firm but patient and reward success with praise and petting.
When your dog gets sick or old Some signs of canine illness are loss of appetite, dull eyes, a dry coat, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst or urination. If your dog seems sick, take its temperature and call the veterinarian.
To take a dog’s temperature, lubricate a rectal thermometer and insert it in the rectum, leaving it there for 2 minutes while you or an assistant holds the dog still. Normal canine temperature is 100F to 102.4F
With age, a dog may gain weight, lose its sight or hearing, or become sick. It should be fed smaller amounts-perhaps of a commercial