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So you want to get a dog and you are asking yourself what type and breed would suit me and the family? Am I a small or big dog person, should it be long or short haired, a working dog or a lap dog? My first question to you would be are you the right person for them, could you offer a loving and suitable home for any dog? Size and type is dependant upon having lots of patience, commitment, emotional stability, your location and style of home life.

I would question have you the time, dogs need plenty of both physical and mental stimulation, regardless of size or breed. Without this and human interaction, all breeds in spite of whether or not they are terriers, herders, companion, working or just pure mixed breed mutts' dogs can develop all sorts of unacceptable behavioural problems, if under stimulated and/or deprived of company (e.g. hyperactivity, destructiveness, excessive vocalisation, separation anxiety, even aggression). Dogs are social creatures, they need love, attention and plenty of socialisation with all different kinds of environments.

But if I was to categorise lifestyles to a particular dog, these are the 5 groups I would place people into;

  1. Retired/Older People – Consider a smaller dog who is easier to walk, but also enjoys plenty of company throughout the day, more of a lapdog, for example Lhasa Apso, Bichon Frise, Tibetan or Cocker Spaniels. Avoid feisty terriers, unless you are experienced in this breed, they also need plenty of exercise.
  1. Single People/Couples at Work Longer Hours – If away from the home due to work commitments, you need to consider more laid back and calm natured dog, for example Greyhound, Golden Retriever, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Rottweiler. But remember all dogs need plenty of exercise and stimulation, leaving your dog for too long can cause behavioural problems, including separation anxiety.
  1. Active People – This also depends upon work commitments and time you can give the dog. If you are fit and are happy to do plenty of walking, trekking (park, woods)then most types and breeds of dogs would suit you, but the more active and up for most things are Labradors, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Jack Russell & West Highland Terriers.
  1. Children and dogsFamilies with Young Children – It is important with young children that you do not pick a reactive and easily excitable dog, this can unfortunately lead to mishaps and accidents. The type of breed I would advise would be a dog with a more sound and potentially less reactive temperament, for example English Sheepdog, Australian Shepherd, Newfoundland and King Charles Spaniel.
  1. Older Family Members at Home – Again, it depends upon size of home, the larger the house & garden; the larger the dog. If you have the time, the inclination and patience, any dog would probably suit this type of arrangement.

Please remember to vary the walks both on (road) and off the lead (park/woods). Also note that, despite the breed or type of dog and their specific related traits, with poor and indiscriminate breeding, you might not get what you expected.

If you've found him/her

Things to remember for a good and close relationship with your dog.

Dogs on a walkGive them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation – it helps to reduce stress and frustration for both you and the dog. Boredom can cause anxiety, destructiveness and excessive vocalisation, including pent up frustration, sometimes aggression.

Socialise them as much as you can in all situations, interaction with other dogs & people, and in different surroundings. Get them used to all types of movements, noises and places. Dogs are social creatures and love to be stimulated.

Never over compensate, because of guilt of leaving them, by giving too much attention. This can cause problems of separation anxiety and lack of coping skills for both you and more especially the dog.

Feed them a good well balanced, preservative-free, natural diet. Avoid junk food, too many treats or foods with colourants, additives and preservatives in. The wrong foods are often linked with behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity and stress.

Janetta with Jodie the German Shepherd and Jack the catBut most importantly of all, enjoy your dog, have fun! I am always playing the village idiot with my dogs and get so much enjoyment out of watching them (German Shepherds called Jodie & Baloo) run around, smile and enjoy life. They light up my day.

(Janetta pictured here with Jodie and Jack the cat.)


If you experience any type of behavioural problems with your pet (dog or cat), whether it is simple obedience training, house soiling to more serious problems like separation anxiety, aggression, fear, nervousness and destructiveness, to name but a few, it is always advisable to seek professional advice.
Untreated behavioural problems can often escalate and can become unmanageable or more serious.

Janetta Smith – Animal Behaviourist
Tel: 01702 511589 / 07905 359811

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