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Cesar Millan’s Guide to Choosing a Dog

If you’re thinking of adding a furry member to your family, there are some important things to consider first, and who better to help you make your decision than The Dog Whisperer himself? Cesar Millan helps out with some things to consider before picking the right dog for you.

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 1. Consider The Dog's Energy Level

1. Consider The Dog’s Energy Level

The energy level of the puppy is an accurate gauge of whether you and your dog will be compatible mates for life. That’s because all breeds of dogs are dogs first. I think of any dog first as animal, then as dog, then as breed, and last, the dog’s name, or what most people term her “personality.” When humans took on the task of custom-designing dogs for our own needs and desires, we didn’t create the characteristics we selected from scratch, we merely adapted and refined basic dog traits that were already there. All dogs are predators, but over thousands of generations, we’ve created sporting breeds to be exceptionally focused predators. All dogs like to dig and chase small prey, but terriers are super-driven to dig and find rodents. All dogs love to run, but greyhounds can run up to forty miles an hour, and huskies can run for hours and hours on end.

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 2. Purebred or Mutt?

2. Purebred or Mutt?

The more pure the bloodline, the more that genetic “boost” will probably play a part in your dog’s behaviour. That’s why some owners claim that their “mutts” make mellower pets, because, they theorize, their DNA has been somewhat diluted, and their breed-related drives diffused as a result. As a general rule, the more purebred the dog, the more intense the desire it will have to fulfill its genetic purpose. Therefore, it will require more focus and attention from you in making sure that those breed-related needs are constantly challenged and fulfilled. 

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 3. Do Your Homework

3. Do Your Homework

When thinking about what might be the right breed for you, you must do your homework ahead of time. Read up on every breed you are interested in, paying special attention to the original job it was bred to do.

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 4. Ask The Right Questions

4. Ask The Right Questions

Ask yourself, “Can I provide the right environment, the proper amount of time, and the appropriate stimulation to fulfill those inborn breed-related needs?”

For instance, if you are in love with the scruffy face and petite size of terriers, are you prepared to designate a part of your prized garden so it can fulfill its biological need to dig? If you admire the sleek physique and elegance of a pointer or Weimaraner, do you have the time and energy to play hide-and-seek or hunting games with it in the park several days a week? If you desperately want a high-energy Australian shepherd, will you be willing to take it to sheep-herding class or play agility games with it on a regular basis?

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 5. ...And Don't Lie To Yourself About The Answers

5. …And Don’t Lie To Yourself About The Answers

When we fulfill all the needs of our dogs-with consideration to them as animals, dogs, and breeds-they will reciprocate by being the most loyal, loving friends we could ever imagine. When we leave them unfulfilled, on the other hand, we create issues that can make their lives and ours absolutely miserable.

Excerpted from How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier Copyright © 2009 by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.