MAKE A MATCH: How To Choose A Dog That’s Right For Your Family | Lifestyles
What is the best breed of dog? It’s one of the most frequently asked questions on social media, not only because it gets a lot of likes and replies, but because everyone has an opinion.
Luckily for those of us who love dogs, there’s no one answer that’s right for everyone. With over 400 different breeds around the world and countless mixes and crosses of these breeds, there is a “best” dog for everyone.
We can, however, narrow down the choices depending on our personality and lifestyle, and what we are looking for in a dog. Are you active or laid back? An athlete or a couch potato? Traveler or homebody? Do you work, work, work, or balance the workday with hobbies, activities, or downtime? Want a playful dog? Protective? Clever? Funny? Love to snuggle? These traits don’t necessarily all come in the same canine package.
To find the right dog for you, make two lists. In the first, write down the traits that describe your personality and lifestyle, the type of house you live in (stairs or one-story, yard or no yard, apartment or house, city/suburban/rural), whether you have children and how old they are and how much time a day you could or would like to spend with a dog.
On the second list, write down everything you’re looking for in a dog: size, coat type or length, activity level, and the ways you’d like to interact with the dog: jogging, playing fetch , dog sports, boating, swimming, hiking, napping on the couch, teaching tricks… you name it!
To bring your two lists together, look for one of the many dog-breeding sites that offer suggestions based on your feedback. Pet food companies, including Purina and Pedigree, often have such quizzes on their websites.
When I used the one from Purina, typing in the traits I envision for a future dog, the breed suggested was a toy fox terrier, the one on my list. Pedigree gave me an option of eight breeds, including the one I already have – the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – plus three others I’ve considered over the years: the American Water Spaniel, Japanese Chin and the butterfly. rover.com matched me with a rat terrier and a cocker spaniel, the two breeds I might consider. The Spruce Pets has recommended several different spaniel breeds, all of which are some of my favorites.
Using several different breed selectors can help you cover all the bases and narrow down your selection. Interestingly, none of them suggested me a Silkie Greyhound, which is high on my list for a next dog. If you’ve got your eye on a rare or foreign breed, crossbreed (aka “designer dog”), or mixed-breed dog, try the DogTime.com breed selector. And the websites of pet health insurance companies such as Embrace and Trupanion often have extensive breed and cross-breed profiles, but no quizzes.
I also noticed that none of the dog selection tools took health into consideration. It’s a good idea to think about how much you could afford to spend on veterinary care each year and whether the breed or mix you have in mind is prone to costly health issues. In breed profiles, pet health insurance companies sometimes include a dog’s risk for certain conditions, as well as the cost range to treat them.
Once you have certain breeds in mind, get to know them. Watch YouTube and Animal Planet videos featuring breeds that interest you. Look for videos of trained or groomed puppies and adults, doing tricks or dog sports, playing or just hanging around the house. Then start looking for reputable breeders – at dog shows or online on the breed club’s website. (You can also see more here: uexpress.com/pets/pet-connection/2021/01/25.)
Even if the dog you’ve chosen is a mixed or mixed breed dog, look for breeders who perform health tests and raise puppies at home, not outside in barns or tiny pens. They exist.
Can’t find the “right” dog? You might be a cat person.
Build a catio that cats will love
Q: I want to build a catio for my two cats. Do you have any design tips?
A: Congratulations to your cats for having such a great owner! They will enjoy their outdoor space. Here are some tips on what to think about.
Give your cats as much vertical and horizontal space as possible for them to climb, sniff and bask. At a minimum, the catio should be 6 feet by 6 feet. Add a cat tree or incorporate a real tree into the plan – as long as your cats can’t reach the top – as well as perches or catwalks at varying heights around the perimeter. The walkways, about 6 inches wide, should also cross the space diagonally.
Surround the catio with a screen strong enough that it cannot be scratched by a determined predator – or your cat. And it should have real ground, not just dirt, so other animals can’t dig under it to get inside. If possible, lay a sealed concrete floor. It’s not just strong; it can also be watered as needed. If you’re going to do it all, have the floor slope toward a drain for easy cleaning.
Prevent altercations with stray cats by building a sturdy base wall about 3 feet high so that there is no hissing, meowing, and spitting at ground level. Screening can go up from there.
Add a cover to protect you from the weather. Design it so that the catio has both shady and sunny areas.
Planters filled with cat-safe plants offer nibbling and sniffing fun, plus a splash of color. Options include African violets, Boston ferns and, of course, catnip. Consider a small fountain or other watering hole if your cat likes to splash around in wet stuff.
Remember your own comfort. Make sure you have easy access for plant and litter box maintenance. Here are some other tips: bit.ly/3PTAtpB. —Kim Campbell Thornton
safe for dogs
“It’s barbecue season, and it culminates next month with Labor Day. Dogs have been known to steal items from the grill — or at least beg for a taste — but make sure you know what’s safe before handing out treats or laughing at canine food theft. Say yes with a smile to a bite of boneless, skinless lean meat, like chicken, as long as it’s not covered in barbecue sauce or anything spicy. Grilled vegetables like broccoli and carrots are also suitable. Avoid ribs and pork chops; small or irregularly shaped bones can cause choking or blockages. Same for corn cobs. And anything on skewers is a grave danger. Keep trash out of reach of dogs and warn guests not to give Baxter anything he shouldn’t have.
“Have you met the Bombay?” Black, copper-eyed cats, sometimes nicknamed “parlor panthers,” are intelligent and affable, enjoying their owners’ company and waving at visitors. Bombays often like to walk on a leash or play with small balls. They love attention and often adorn the knees.
— Goldfish are popular “starter pets” for children, but they need more and better care than they are usually given. First rule of the Fin Club: Don’t keep goldfish in jars. They need a good sized aquarium that can hold 75 to 100 gallons. Surprised? Goldfish can grow to well over a foot in length, and it’s a myth that goldfish kept in small bowls or tanks will stay small. So give them space! They also need a good water filtration system and frequent partial water changes to keep their aquatic environment clean. Finally, don’t overfeed them. Give only as much as they can finish eating in a few minutes, once or twice a day. — Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET LOGIN
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts. Veterinarian Dr Marty Becker is founder of the organization Fear Free, co-founder of VetScoop.com and author of numerous best-selling pet care books. Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has written about animals since 1985. Mikkel Becker is behavioral consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/Kim.CampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.