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Ask an Expert - Picking a Dog for Your Family

We are planning to get a dog. We have two children in elementary school. We have a large backyard and live in a neighborhood with walking trails. How should you decide on the type of dog to adopt?

Charles Stoltenow, DVM, Extension Veterinarian, Department of Animal Science, NDSU

Picking an appropriate dog for your family depends a lot on the "personality" of your family.

Are you and your children "dog" people? Do you like dogs? What type of dog do you like? Are you and your children confident in handling a large dog, medium-sized dog or small dog? Do you like to go on walks? Is a dog park available?

Outwalking a medium to large dog is just about impossible for a person. The larger the dog, the more exercise it should get unless you want an overweight and understimulated dog.

Dogs can cause quite a bit of wear and tear on a yard, so is a pristine yard important to you or is the companionship of a dog more important to you?

The real question is: What type of dog can you maintain control of? Veterinarians who are experts in animals and handling animals become uncomfortable when clients cannot control their dog, large or small. Well-mannered dogs are a joy to their owners and everyone around them. Ill-mannered or out-of-control dogs cause stress in relationships, animals and humans. At worst, ill-mannered dogs are dangerous.

Before getting a dog, try one on for size. Spend some time with the type of dog you are interested in having. Pay close attention to the personality of the dog. Many good dogs are available. The most important aspect of enjoying a family dog
is getting one that fi ts the personality of your family.

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