1. Your dog is going to be a member of your family for at least twelve to fourteen years. Make sure that you pick the right dog for the right reason. Some dog owners, unfortunately mostly men, often want to get a macho dog because they think it reflects their own personality. Do everyone a favour, and lighten up. Small dogs also make great pets. If you want to be macho, go work out at the gym.

  2. Sometimes, people will also buy a dog to guard their home, especially after a break in. Our advice is to get an alarm system instead. Although there are many reputable dog trainers out there, you should be aware that there is no licensing or monitoring system for dog trainers. A badly trained, or a cruelly trained guard dog is a time bomb waiting to go off. If your guard dog bites or even kills someone, you will never forgive yourself, and you will be visiting tragedy on someone else, your family and your dog. You will also be leaving yourself wide open to the possibility of criminal charges and civil lawsuits.

  3. There are over one hundred and fifty breeds of dogs and even more crossbred dogs. Your local humane society or animal shelter has lots of beautiful crossbred dogs, which need loving homes. We don't recommend that you buy dogs from a pet shop because humane societies and animal shelters already have to kill too many unwanted dogs and cats.

  4. If you are determined to buy a purebred dog, then visit at least four different breeders and make sure you see the mother and father, and see the way the dogs and puppies react to the breeder, and look at the way the breeder treats his/her dogs. If the breeder cannot provide you with registration papers, or says they will mail them to you, then don't buy a dog or puppy from them.

  5. Please, please do not allow your dogs or cats, whether they are purebreds or crossbreds, to have even one litter. An estimated one million unwanted dogs and cats are killed each year in Canada because there are simply not enough loving homes for all of them. Even if you think you can find a home for your puppies and kittens, that means fewer homes for someone else who has the same idea as you.

  6. Be aware that some dogs are better off living in the country, rather than in the city. If you can't spare more than two hours (or more) every day to exercise your dog properly, then don't get a big dog that needs a lot of exercise. Even smaller dogs should be walked two or three times a day, for a total of at least an hour.

  7. In today's fast paced world, the most precious thing we all have in short supply is time. Most of us are also two income families and no one is home during the daytime. Make sure that you adopt the right dog for your family. If no one is home during the day, then do not adopt a puppy, unless you are willing to take at least four weeks off to train him or her.

  8. Puppies develop their personalities between the ages of 8 - 12 weeks, and they are very social pack animals. They need and want attention.
  9. We're going to give you some hard truths, which you may not want to hear. If you are not around to give them attention, then you are only being selfish and thoughtless. You will not be able to train your puppy and will wind up causing heartbreak for yourself and your puppy. You will wind up with a beautiful six-month-old young dog, who chews, barks, defecates, urinates or is very aggressive and anti-social, or all of the above.

  10. You will break your heart, and your dog's heart, when you decide to call it quits and give him/her up for adoption. You also place an unfair burden on your local humane society or animal shelter because you expect them to find a new home for your young dog, and will blame them if your dog has to be put to sleep. The new owner also has to undo all of your months of neglect, and retrain your dog.

  11. Some pet shops and breeders say that if you work all day, then simply put the dog into a cage or a crate and train the puppy this way. In our view, this is absolute nonsense. Puppies and dogs are social animals and members of your family. They don't deserve to live in a crate or a cage any more than you do. No matter how attractive this solution seems, it is a mistake for you, your family, and your dog.

  12. You may be able to adopt an older dog that is already fully trained, but had to be given up because a person was moving or developed allergies. Even so, be prepared to take time off to spend with your dog for the first several weeks, until he/she becomes accustomed to your new home.

  13. Spay or neuter your dogs. This will reduce their aggression and will make them a healthier happier pet. Another message for the macho guys out there. Whatever your hang-ups are about having your dog neutered, get over it. Your dog will still be a real male dog and at the same time be more obedient and won't be out roaming after females in heat and contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis.

  14. Train your dog using rewards of food and affection and encouragement. Never use punishment because it doesn't work and is harmful. Carefully investigate any dog trainer and make sure he/she really knows what they are doing. Do not send your dog away to be trained without you. You need to be with the dog and be trained alongside him/her. Visit other dogs the trainer has worked with.

  15. Make sure your dog is socialized and familiar with people, animals, and the sights and sounds of your neighbourhood.

  16. Never tease or play aggressive games with your dog. How is your dog supposed to understand when and where he/she can be aggressive or what their limits should be?

  17. Be aware that when you pat your thigh and tell your dog to jump up on your leg, you are being submissive and encouraging your dog to dominate you. You are teaching your dog that it is ok to be aggressive.

  18. Dogs chase smaller animals because they regard them as prey. Encouraging this type of behaviour teaches your dog that it is ok to chase anything they regard as prey. Why shouldn't your dog then regard children or cats or smaller dogs as prey?

  19. Dogs often bark when someone comes onto your property or knocks on your door. While this is desirable, do not encourage your dog to go overboard with his protective behaviour. If you do encourage him, remember you may not be able to easily get him to turn this behaviour on and off like a light switch.

  20. If you don't know how your dog behaves around children, then don't tell children that it is ok to pet your dog. Also use your own good judgment. If the child seems nervous, or too aggressive, or has food in his/her hand, don't let them pet your dog. If you tell a child that it is ok to pet your dog, and their parent(s) says no, don't take it personally. They are only looking out for their child's best interests.

  21. Some dogs are also fearful or aggressive around children. Don't try and break your dog's habits at the expense of your own children or someone else's children.

  22. If you have an aggressive dog, the worst thing you can do is be in denial. "My dog is just playing rough" or "My dog would never bite anyone" are famous last words. If you have an aggressive dog then seek professional help immediately from your veterinarian. Don't put it off for any reason, and do not wait for your dog to "grow out of it." That simply isn't going to happen. The problem is only going to get worse for everyone involved, including your dog.

  23. If your dog's aggressive behaviour cannot be eliminated, then you may decide to purchase a humane muzzle when you walk him/her outside.
  24. Whatever you do, if you have to give up, or even have a veterinarian or animal shelter humanely kill your dog - do not under any circumstances rush out and get another dog. Try and figure out what went wrong, and honestly ask yourself if you were at fault. Be fair to yourself, your family, your neighbours, and your next dog. If you have had a particularly serious incident, you may even decide not to get another dog. Whatever you decide, have a cooling off period of at least several months and think the decision through logically and carefully.

  25. Some well-meaning owners take their dogs everywhere with them. They tie their dogs up outside of restaurants, outdoor cafes and stores - and then leave them alone "just for a minute" or "just for a little while." This is an accident waiting to happen, because your dog is surrounded by a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells and people and children passing by (some with food in their hand or their shopping bags). When your dog is tied up, he/she has their movement restricted and they can become more easily frightened or territorial or may refuse to take no for answer when that child refuses to give up their ice cream cone. Give everyone a break, especially your dog, and leave him/her at home in familiar surroundings.

  26. Never put your hand in between two dogs that are fighting with each other. You will only be bitten by one or both dogs. Try commanding them to stop. If this doesn't work, then grab one of the dogs by both of his/her hind legs and pull hard. He/she should let go. If this does not work, try and distract the dogs by whistling, throwing a ball or stick. Although it may seem like forever, the dogs will actually stop fighting very quickly if left on their own.

  27. Sometimes when a male and female dog are having sex, the two may become stuck together. The dogs may cry out in pain, and try and pull away from each other, adopting unusual positions. All you can do is keep people away from both dogs until they relax and separate on their own. If you try and forcibly separate them you will only injure both dogs and will likely be bitten for your efforts. Some people may suggest that you throw a pail of water on the dogs, but this will not help. What will help is having your pet spayed or neutered so your dog doesn't become involved in one of these incidents.

  28. If you are not certain how your dog will react under new and unfamiliar conditions (for example, like taking them camping or to someone's home for the first time), then make sure your dog is under firm, but very tight, control for everyone's sake.

  29. Dogs bite due to a combination of genetics, training and environment and this involves factors which can include, but are not limited to: food, toys, aggression, defense, fear, injury, illness, age, sex, and prey.

  30. Some pet owners park their vehicle and leave their dogs in the back of their pickup truck, or inside their car with the windows rolled down slightly. Your dog may try to protect his/her new "territory" or may become frustrated, angry or scared due to the unfamiliarity of his/her surroundings and this can be dangerous for children or adults who try to pet him/her.

    Please leave your dog at home, or leave someone with your vehicle. Cars can be very dangerous places for your pet, in hot weather heat stroke can occur, as can hypothermia in the winter. Never carry your dog in the back of an open pick up truck - this is very dangerous for your dog and other drivers.

  31. No one expects that you can plan to prevent or control every situation. But you can be aware of potential problems and exercise reasonable care and supervision to prevent and reduce the frequency and severity of dog bites.

Please read the sections on Tips for child safety and Tips for parents.

Remember to have fun with your dog. They are one of the greatest friends you will ever have.