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MAKE A MATCH: How To Choose The Right Dog For Your Family | lifestyles

What is the best breed of dog? That’s one of the most frequently asked questions on social media, not only because it gets so many likes and replies, but because everyone has an opinion.

Fortunately for those of us who love dogs, there is no single answer that is right for everyone. With over 400 different breeds around the world and countless mixes and crosses of those breeds, there is a “best” dog for everyone.

However, we can narrow down the options based on our personality and lifestyle, and what we are looking for in a dog. Are you active or relaxed? An athlete or a couch potato? A traveler or a homebody? Do you work, work, work, or balance the workday with hobbies, activities, or downtime? Do you want a dog that is playful? Protective? Intelligent? Funny? Do you love to snuggle? Those traits don’t necessarily all come in the same canine package.

To find the perfect dog, make two lists. In the first, write traits that describe your personality and lifestyle, the type of house you live in (stairs or single story, patio or no patio, apartment or house, city/suburb/rural), if you have children and how old they are and how much time a day you could or would 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 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 match your two lists, find one of the many dog ​​selection sites that offer suggestions based on your input. Pet food companies, including Purina and Pedigree, often have such questionnaires on their websites.

When I used the one from Purina, inputting the traits I’m considering for a future dog, the suggested breed was a toy fox terrier, one that’s on my list. Pedigree gave me a choice of eight breeds, including the one I already own, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, plus three others I’ve considered over the years: American Water Spaniel, Japanese Chin, and Papillon. Rover.com matched me up with a rat terrier and a cocker spaniel, both breeds I might consider. Spruce Pets recommended several different spaniel breeds, all of which are among my favorites.

Using several different breed selectors can help you cover all the bases and narrow down your selection. Interestingly, none of them suggested a silkhound for me, which is at the top of my list for a next dog. If you’ve got your eye on a rare or foreign breed, mongrel (also known as a “designer dog”) or mongrel, try DogTime.com’s breed selector. And the websites of pet health insurance companies, such as Embrace and Trupanion, often have extensive breed and crossbreed profiles, but no questionnaires.

I also noticed that none of the dog selection tools took health into account. It’s a good idea to think about how much you could spend annually on veterinary care and whether the breed or mix you have in mind is prone to costly health problems. Within breed profiles, pet health insurance companies sometimes include a dog’s risks for certain conditions, as well as the range of costs to treat them.

Once you have a few breeds in mind, get to know them. Watch YouTube and Animal Planet videos featuring breeds that interest you. Find videos of puppies and adults being trained or groomed, doing tricks or dog sports, playing games, or just hanging out in the house. Then start looking for reputable breeders, at dog shows or online at the breed club’s website. (You can also see more here: uexpress.com/pets/pet-connection/2021/01/25).

Even if your chosen dog is a mongrel or mongrel, look for breeders who perform health tests and raise puppies in the home, not outdoors in stalls or small pens. They exist.

Can’t find the “right” dog? You could 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 advice?

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 to allow them to climb, sniff and rest. 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, plus perches or walkways at various heights around the perimeter. Walkways, about 6 inches wide, should also cross the space diagonally.

Enclose the catio with mesh that is strong enough that a determined predator, or your cat, cannot get through. And it must have real flooring, not just dirt, so other animals can’t dig under it to get in. If possible, lay a sealed concrete floor. It’s not just strong; can also be hosed down as needed. If you’re going to go all out, have the floor slope toward a drain to make cleaning easier.

Avoid altercations with stray cats by building a solid wall base about 3 feet high so there is no hissing, howling, or spitting at ground level. The projection can increase from that.

Add a cover to protect yourself from the elements. Design it so that the catio has shaded and sunny areas.

Pots filled with cat-safe plants provide nibbling and sniffing pleasure as well as a splash of color. Options include African violets, Boston ferns and, of course, catnip. Consider a small fountain or other water source if your cat enjoys splashing around in wet things.

Remember your own comfort. Make sure you have easy access for plant care and the litter box. Here are more tips: bit.ly/3PTAtpB. —Kim Campbell Thornton

Do you have a favorite question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ

Keep cookouts

dog insurance

— It’s cookout season and it culminates on Labor Day next month. Dogs have been known to steal items from the grill, or at least beg to try them, but make sure you know what’s safe before handing out treats or laughing at a dog food theft. Say yes with a smile to a bite of lean, skinless, boneless meat like chicken, as long as it’s not smeared with barbecue sauce or something spicy. Roasted vegetables like broccoli and carrots are also fine. Avoid the ribs and pork chops; small or oddly shaped bones can cause choking or blockages. Same for corn on the cob. And anything on skewers is a serious hazard. Keep garbage out of the reach of dogs and warn guests not to give Baxter anything he shouldn’t have.

“Have you met the Bombays?” Sometimes nicknamed “parlor panthers,” black cats with coppery eyes are intelligent and affable, enjoying the company of their owners and putting up the welcome sign for visitors. Bombays often enjoy walking on a leash or playing fetch with small balls. They love attention and are often found gracing a lap.

— Goldfish are popular “starter pets” for children, but they need more and better care than they normally receive. First rule of the fin club: don’t keep goldfish in bowls. They need a good sized aquarium that is between 75 and 100 gallons. Surprised? Goldfish can grow to be over a foot long, and it is 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. Lastly, don’t overfeed them. Give him only as much as he can finish eating in a couple of minutes, once or twice a day. — Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

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 many best-selling books on pet care. Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has been writing about animals since 1985. Mikkel Becker is a behavior 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 on Facebook.com/Kim.CampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is on Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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