Saturday, February 24, 2018

Finding the Right Pet for Your Family

Dogs are said to be man’s best friends and can also be the perfect companions for young children. There are several proven positive benefits of children having dogs. From encouraging kids to get outside more to teaching lessons in responsibility for other living things, there are many benefits.

The decision to bring home a dog warrants careful consideration. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and not all breeds are the same. 

Matthew N. Roth, DVM with Bayview Pet Medical and Dental Center in Ocean Springs gave guidelines for picking out the right dog for individual family needs. 

“As a veterinarian, I see the best and worst of what dog ownership can look like,” Roth said. “Owning a dog involves time, energy, compassion, patience, space and money.”

“The responsibility of owning a dog will inevitably fall back to the person in the family who is most responsible and has the freest time,” he added. “If that person, once identified, does not want that inevitable task, then a dog should not be acquired.” 
Your home environment is also a key factor to consider when choosing a dog for your family. 

“Your living space is a huge consideration as you need to match the dog’s size and activity level with your environment,” Roth said. “A bigger, more active dog will need exercise and lots of it, so they should be reserved for living areas with lots of room and preferably enclosed spaces.”

“The activity level of family members should also be in sync with energy level of dog, so if your family loves the outdoors and is active, don’t get a couch hound,” he advised.

It is also very important to take your children’s ages into consideration when picking out a family dog. 

“The age of children in the family is very important to consider when evaluating potential dogs,” Roth said. “Smaller children generally tend to mix better with smaller dogs or calmer large breed dogs. A family with infants or toddlers certainly should stay away from high energy working dogs, such as Shepherds, Huskies, Rottweilers.”

“The AKC website is a great source for getting a better idea of what can be expected from a breed in general,” he added.
“Another huge consideration is the age of the dog,” Roth said. “Puppies are so cute and adorable, but beware: they can be loud, labor intensive, destructive and quite messy. If you are a busy family and don’t have a lot of free time, then you should go to your neighborhood shelter and adopt a sweet adult dog.”

He said for those who have the time to “mold” a puppy into the “ideal dog,” it’s important to research which breed best fits the family and, if purchasing from a breeder, to find the very best breeder you can.

“I can’t say it enough times,” he stressed, “that a puppy is a major addition to a family and should be thoroughly thought out.”
Dr. Roth said he is frequently asked what dog breed is the best for a family.  

“I am a lover of all dogs and mean no harm or malice to any breed based on the following statements,” Roth began. “In my experience and humble opinion there are breeds I do strongly recommend such as Golden Retrievers, well-bred Labradoodles or Goldendoodles, Malteses, Bichon Frises, and Labrador Retrievers. Again, there are many other great breeds as well as poor examples of the breeds I recommend.”

“The most important thing is know what you want, what fits your lifestyle and life stage, and find a great breeder,” he said. “There are also many great dogs at shelters that can be a great match for your family. Take time to make the right decision and stay away from pitfalls like puppy stores, adoption drives, or shelters until you are truly committed to make a dog a true member of your family.”

Ashley Schafer Karcher lives in Ocean Springs with her husband and four children and her oneyear-old Labrador Retriever named Lily.

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