Loving Family Pets      Dogs
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Is a Dog the Right Pet For You?
The dog is one of the most popular pets in the world. A dog can easily become a part of the family and, once it does, provide loyalty and affection to it's family members. It's important to remember that dogs are intelligent animals with a sophisticated set of behaviors. Many people jump into getting a dog without considering the amount of time and attention it takes to make a dog a good family pet. 
What Breed Should You Get?
When considering a dog as a family pet it is important to research breeds of dogs to find one that will fit well into your living situation. Careful consideration of the breed and its temperament, activity level, and care needs will result in a life long bond between the dog and your family.
There are many breeds of dog. Each dog breed has been developed for a specific purpose. Because of this, dogs of different breeds will exhibit different temperament and behavior traits. For example, Labradors were bred to retain the traits that make them good retrievers while Border Collies are bred for herding. By researching first you will end up with a family pet that fits your lifestyle. Too many people choose a dog because they like the look of the breed. While that is an important consideration, it is necessary to research the many other aspects of the breed like energy level, time required for grooming or size. There are several good website that can help you select the right dog. Here are a couple of links to good website for choosing the right dog.

Developing Your Bond: The wild ancestors of all dogs were hunters. Wolves and other wild relatives of the dog are pack animals. This means that they are most comfortable and confident when they are in a pack and know their place or ranking in that pack. When you have a dog, you and your family will become that dog's pack. Although it may seem strange, understanding pack behavior will help you understand you dog. This understanding will create an environment that will foster a happy relationship between you and your dog.
 When a dog becomes part of your families "pack" the first thing they have to do is to figure out "where they fit in" with that pack. By nature, these social animals need to understand ranking in the pack. If no one seems to step up as pack leader the dog will assume that it must take on that role. Some dogs are very confident about this role while other are more insecure. As the human you must establish yourself as the pack leader. This has to be done in the right way and must be done with your dog's temperament in mind or you may end up with an aggressive or fearful dog. Both can lead to serious problems. 
Obedience classes and agility are activities that will strengthen your bond with the dog as well as help you develop your role as pack leader. Most dogs respond best to obedience training that is reward based, praising the dog when it does something right. Punishing your dog for unwanted behavior often just confuses the dog, leading to behavior problems. Agility training can be fun and will strengthen your bond with your dog. In order to succeed in an agility course your dog must learn to watch and listen to you. I felt that agility classes along with obedience training made a big difference in how well my dog (an Australian Shepherd) listen to me.  Having your dog listen and obey commands such as "stay" or "leave it" can sometimes save a dog from harm or danger. Check with your nearby Humane Society to see if they offer obedience classes. Pet stores such as PetSmart also offer obedience classes. PetSmart offers obedience at all levels as well as clicker training, and potty training.They also offer private lessons to focus on a specific need.
It is also important that your dog is well socialized. In other words, your dog needs to get used to being around other people, in new places, and other dogs. Being well socialized will make your dog more confident and reduce the chances that it will become fearful in new situation. 
When a person decides to own a dog, he should be prepared to care for it properly. For a dog to stay healthy it must be fed regularly and with the right amount. You will also need to plan for time each week for grooming. As with all pets, you must also be prepared to take care of its medical annually and as other needs arise.
Because dog's are pack animals they are happiest when they are with their family. Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time and who don't receive regular interaction with their family become stressed. A dog that is stressed will take on some really bad habits making their place in your family less enjoyable. 

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Also check out Ashley's Canine Corner
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Great for obedience or agility training.
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