Guide to Albany
dog talk

Q. How Do I Choose the Right Puppy?

A. First, if you are planning to get a puppy as a holiday gift, please don't! Instead, purchase a cute dog dish, collar and leash, and a gift certificate for dog training, wrap the items, and present them to the lucky recipient. That way, he or she can choose the right puppy or dog for his or her lifestyle, personality, and energy level. Remember, too, that a dog is a commitment of 12-18 years, and many people are not in a position to handle the financial obligations, the time, or the responsibility of a living creature.

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If you are considering adopting a dog for yourself, first determine whether you want a puppy or an adult dog. Adopting a puppy has certain advantages--you will be able to choose one with the best temperament for you and ensure it gets a proper education before behavioral problems or bad habits develop. But puppies bring added responsibilities, too. During the first few months, a puppy requires more of your time than an older dog, for housebreaking, training, and supervision.
If you do not have the time required for a puppy, consider adopting a full-grown dog that has already gone through the puppy stage.

Usually an older dog will be housebroken and less likely to chew anything. Before adopting an older dog, learn as much as you can about its background,

The dog's temperament is something innate in a dog that has nothing to do with its breed or age. A dog's temperament has a lot to do with how easily it can be trained and, while good training can improve certain traits in a dog, training cannot change the dog's temperament.

Nervous dogs might be uncomfortable with strangers, so if you are a social person, do not choose the dog that backs away from you, or circles and barks. Timid dogs, the ones that tend to roll on their backs, squirm, or have their tails between their legs when you meet them, are often easy to train. Beware of the dog that seems too confident and assertive, as it will need a committed and consistent effort to train the dog. Dogs that seem eager to please and friendly are the easiest to train and are wonderful companions.


Be sure to get the puppy or dog alone with you to observe it away from other distractions. A well-adjusted puppy or dog will follow you freely when you lead it.  If you drop a glove or other soft item on the ground, the dog should be startled but then approach it to investigate.

In addition to recognizing an individual dog's temperament, you would do well to investigate the breed that best suits your needs. While some breeds do have tendencies toward a certain temperament, keep in mind that this is not absolute.

Sociable dogs with soft, even temperaments are good choices for elderly people and families with small children. These breeds include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
, Golden Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Poodles, and West Highland Terriers.

Breeds that require more discipline and exercise are great for people with lots of energy. Their loyal, loving natures still make them wonderful family pets, such as Boxers, Bull Terriers, Dachshunds, Dalmations, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers.

Breeds that tend to be one-person dogs are good for people who live alone. They are less suitable for families. These include Akitas, Chow Chows, Pekingese, and Shih Tzus.

Mixed breeds are generally hardier and less prone to hereditary faults. The so-called Designer Dogs, Hybrids, or CrossBreeds, were developed to create a mix of the best characteristics of each breed. For example, the Goldendoodle is a combination of the family-friendly traits of the Golden Retriever with the non-shedding hypoallergenic traits of the Poodle. Others include Puggle (Pug / Beagle), Schnoodle (Schnauzer / Poodle), Labradoodle (Labrador / Poodle) and

Chorkie (Chihuahua / Yorkshire Terrier).

Just like people, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. A dog's breed and temperament, combined with your lifestyle and personality all play an important role in determining what kind of dog is best for you. Do a bit of research first, then visit your local shelter. There is a dog with the perfect temperament for everyone.



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Rachel Baum,CPDT-KA

RACHEL BAUM, CPDT-KA is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and Red Cross Certified in Pet First Aid. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Canine Professionals, and is recommended by local veterinarians and rescue groups, including Forever Home Greyhounds and the Capital District Humane Association. Rachel does Pre-Pet Counseling (assistance with choosing the right dog for your family), Welcome Puppy (in-home instruction on housebreaking, obedience, problem prevention, crate training) and Behavior Consultation (any dog, any age, any problem). Using dog-friendly techniques, Rachel can help owners establish a relationship with their dog based on love, trust and guidance. She can find solutions to potentially embarrassing problems like jumping up on people, nuisance barking, and pulling on the leash, as well as aggression, separation anxiety, housebreaking, and destructive behavior. Clients (or dogs) with special needs are welcome! Rachel is also available to speak to organizations, schools, or businesses about dog safety and dog behavior. She can be reached at 518-248-1781 or

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