7 Steps to Finding the Perfect Dog

You'd never buy a car based on appearance alone, so why adopt a dog that way? Cesar Millan, star of the TV show Dog Whisperer, recommends taking potential pets for a test-drive. Here's how:

By Joe Kita from Reader's Digest | March 2010
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    1. Decide on horsepower. The biggest mistake people make is selecting a dog without considering its energy level. There are four basic engines: low, medium, high, and very high. Match yours to the dog's.

    2. Pick a model. Large or small. Short hair or long. New or pre-owned.

    3. Bring the right equipment. You'll need a collar and a four- or six-foot lead to match the size of the dog. Also bring a tennis ball, a plush toy, and liver or chicken treats.

    4. Test responsiveness. In an open area away from the house or kennel, introduce the scent of the treats. Then introduce the toys. Determine what interests the dog more. This is important because knowing whether he's toy-driven or treat-driven (or neither) will make it easier to train him.

    5. Bring him up to speed. Start walking with the dog. Is he tracking, hunting, or excitedly pulling you along? All these mean he's ignoring you. You want a dog that responds to you.

    6. Maneuver around obstacles. If possible, expose him to cats, other dogs, children, and traffic. Note if he's calm, shy, or aggressive.

    7. Return him and try another. Ten to 15 minutes is all that's required for a good test-drive. Never adopt the first dog you try; four to five is recommended. For more great dog advice, visit cesarsway.com.

    Plus: 7 Ways to Enhance Your Home Life

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