For thousands of years, dogs have been a constant companion to humans. And yet, they still sometimes seem like a bit of a mystery. That's why we've pulled together the best of our coverage of dogs on Mother Nature Network into one huge guide. In this collection, you'll find everything you need to know, from selecting the right dog for your lifestyle to training your dog with life-saving skills.

So unravel the curious wonder that is your dog. You will learn what your dog is telling you through doggy body language, you'll decode the meaning of snoring and excessive licking, find out the best foods to feed your BFF, and learn how to take your dog absolutely everywhere with you.

Getting a dog: Selecting the right breed, finding a rescue and more

How to find the perfect dog for your family, and how to connect with local rescues to find your new best friend. How to find the perfect dog for your family, and how to connect with local rescues to find your new best friend. (Photo: Christin Lola/Shutterstock)

Once you’ve decided to get a dog, the next step is to take a look at your life and determine what kind of dog makes the best fit, and how to find the perfect individual dog for you or your family.

You should weigh things like how much energy you can handle from a dog, how much time you’re willing to invest in training, if there are allergies to consider, if you need a dog that does well with children or other pets and so on. Next, you’ll look at possible places to find a dog, from local rescues and shelters, or if you’re set on a particular type of dog, breed-specific rescues or how to locate reputable, licensed breeders.

This part of the process includes both self-analysis and research. But we have the tools for you!

7 things I wish someone told me before I adopted a dog: Before you settle in to the excitement of bringing home a dog, have a little reality check. This article runs down some of the tougher parts of dog ownership. It’s worth the reward, to be sure, but just be sure you’re going into it all with your eyes wide open.

Best dog breeds for running companions: Do you have an active lifestyle? If you want your dog to take part in daily runs, be sure you’re choosing a breed of dog that can keep up. These breeds are great for people who love to go-go-go. Not only will looking through this list prepare you with some questions to ask ask you narrow down the right type of dog for you, it will also help you decide which types of dogs are not for you.

9 of the world's largest dog breeds: Looking for someone to fill up your home with love, and drool? These giant dogs are full of character and good looks. If size matters, you’ll want to check out who stands tall among dog breeds.

What your dog's breed says about you: Science has shown that certain types of people tend to have certain types of dogs. This article will give clues as to which kind of dogs you might best match with, depending on your personality.

10 of the best pets for allergy sufferers: Being allergic doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have dogs in your life. Instead, you can be selective about the types of dogs that have the least effect on your sinuses. Most people are aware of poodles and poodle mixes, but there are more breeds that can be a perfect match for those of us with allergies.

How to bring a new dog into your home: You've found your perfect dog and you're ready to bring your new best friend home. What next? Here's how to introduce your dog to your home and family members — including other pets — and how to set up household rules.

The 6 biggest challenges all new puppy owners face: If you've decided do bring home a young dog, you'll want to brace yourself for a few of the hurdles you'll have to overcome together, from socialization to crate training, from separation anxiety to teething.

How dogs work: Why they do what they do and more

Learn about what makes a dog tick, including how they view the world and why they do what they do. Learn about what makes a dog tick, including how they view the world. (Photo: Cryber/Shutterstock)

When you’re ready to bring home a dog, it’s time to start learning about what makes them tick. This makes everything easier, from understanding why your dog is reacting a certain way to new things to getting to the heart of that barking-for-no-reason thing, from understanding the importance of smell or the limitations of sight, to predicting your dog’s behavior, which then makes training a much more smooth process. These articles will help you as you set out to learn more about your new best fried.

How much do you really know about dogs?: Let’s start with a fun quiz! You can figure out how much you already know and what more you may want to research.

How does a dog see the world?: Dogs see in color, despite an old misconception, but their world still doesn't look the same as ours. The images in this post have been edited to help you see what a dogs sees. It'll help you get a fresh perspective (and patience) for when your dog doesn't see something right in front of his face, or overreacts about something you think is just an every-day object.

18 things you didn't know about dog paws: For instance, do you know what the dewclaws are for, or why some dogs have "cat feet"? This article offers a lot of surprising information about this important part of a dog's anatomy.

Why do dogs eat grass?: There is a surprising number of reasons why dogs eat grass. Some are nothing to worry about, and some may be cause for concern.

Is your dog an optimist or a pessimist?: It's true that we aren't the only species that looks at life with a naturally positive or negative slant. Does your dog see the water bowl as half-full, or half-empty? This could have an effect on how you approach training solutions with your dog.

Setting the record straight on 6 dog myths: You've probably been hearing these myths since you were little, but it's time to uncover the truth about the meaning of a warm, dry nose or a wagging tail.

Understanding dog: Learn what your dog is telling you and why

What is your dog trying to tell you with that bark, whine, tail wag or sideways stare?What is your dog trying to tell you with that bark, whine, tail wag or sideways stare? (Photo: BoulderPhoto/Shutterstock)

Dogs are some of the most transparent animals out there. They say everything that's going on in their minds — but not in the way we do. While we rely on verbal language, dogs rely primarily on body language. If we aren't paying attention, things can get lost in translation. Here's how to decode your dog's language and how to get on the same page.

How fluent are you in dog-speak?: Since we're talking about body language, this is a visual approach. In this quiz, you determine what it is the dog is conveying through body language. It will inspire you to learn more about all a dog tells you through eyes, ears, tail, mouth, and body position.

How to decode your dog's tail: Now that you’ve taken a quiz on dog body language, we take a closer look at one important part of a dog: the tail. So much can be said with a tail, at least for those breeds with a tail. This delves farther into the not-so-secret language of the tail wag.

11 things humans do that dogs hate: Dogs have their pet peeves just like humans, and sometimes the meaning of body language is lost in translation between the species. Are you sure you know what you’re conveying to a strange dog when you make direct eye contact and reach out your hand? Are you sure the dog you’re tapping on the head might not prefer a scratch under the chin? Learn some of the common things we humans do to dogs that they’d prefer we wouldn't.

Why dogs don't like to be hugged: One of the most controversial things someone can say about how we treat dogs seems to be that dogs don’t actually like hugs. Your dog might like hugs from you, but that doesn’t mean he or she will be comfortable getting a hug from someone else. In fact, a lot of nips, snaps, bites, and snarls could be avoided if we stopped hugging dogs that don’t like it. To get the point across, we talked to renowned animal behaviorist and trainer Patricia McConnell about why dogs don’t like hugs. For your safety and dogs’ sense of security, it’s worth a read.

Why do dogs tilt their heads when we speak?: This is a heart-warming move that dogs do when we make certain sounds at them. For some dogs it’s a whistle or a squeak that does it. For others, it’s just the sound of us asking a question that will send them tilting their head to one side. But why do they do it? This article explains it.

6 simple ways to improve your bond with your dog: By creating a solid bond with your dog based on trust, you can make leaps in training and you an overcome behavior issues. And that bond can be strengthened in just a few simple changes.

6 books every dog owner should read: Life with a dog is complicated, interesting, wonderful, fulfilling and a test of patience. Learning more about what makes a dog tick and how to approach training dogs — with advice from experts in the field — will help you have the best possible relationship. These six are some of our favorites, and we recommend every dog owner check them out.

Dog safety: Bite prevention, etiquette at dog parks and more

There's lots to learn about keeping dogs safe around other dogs, children, family members, and more. There's lots to learn about keeping dogs safe around other dogs, children and family members. (Photo: vvvita/Shutterstock)

Some of the most common problems dog owners have revolve around safety and making sure your dog is getting along with other dogs and people. Millions of people go to the hospital every year because of dog bites, and millions of dogs head to the vet every year after being attacked by other dogs. Make sure that your dog isn't in a dangerous situation, or one that will cause them to react or lash out. Here's a lot of great information to get you started.

11 things dog owners should never say: When we think the world of our dogs, it's often easy to overlook or misinterpret bad behavior. If you've ever found yourself saying, "It's okay, he's friendly" as your dog dashes full-speed toward a leashed dog, or if you've let the words, "Oh he'd never bite" slip out when someone is nervously edging around your dog, you may want to give this article a read.

How to prevent your child from being bitten by the family dog: From 2003 to 2012, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old. They're the ninth leading cause of injury for children ages 5 to 9, and for ages 10 to 14, they are the 10th leading cause of injury. Millions of children go to the emergency room every year for an injury that is entirely preventable. Even the friendliest of family dogs can snap. Here's how to make sure that it doesn't happen in your household.

15 things humans do wrong at dog parks: Dog parks are a mecca for bad dog behavior, mostly because dog owners are unaware of simple rules of safety and etiquette, or are oblivious to dog group dynamics that can lead to problems. Clear up many bad behaviors by glancing through this list and the one below and eliminating the habits from your dog park routine.

10 more things humans do wrong at dog parks: Part two of the article above.

12 lifesaving tricks to teach your dog: A few basic commands can end up being absolute life-savers for your dog when used in dangerous or emergency situations, including stay, recall and drop it among others. See if your dog knows everything on this list.

Dog training: Finding a trainer, cool tricks, brain games and more

Dogs need training and brain exercises as much as they need room to run and play. Dogs need training and brain exercises as much as they need room to run and play. (Photo: Sandor Gora/Shutterstock)

Training is an ongoing thing with dogs. Every day offers opportunities to work on existing skills, train new skills and exercise your dog's brain. Here are a few articles that will help you increase and improve your training techniques, from using clickers to capture desired behaviors to creating puzzles to help your dog exercise his brain.

How to find the right dog trainer: Finding the perfect trainer for your dog may be more of a challenge than it appears. It's important to take into account your dog's personality and behavioral needs, the trainer's methods — plus, you need to know if everything meshes together in a way that makes you comfortable. Find out what questions to ask to find the right trainer for you and your dog.

7 rainy day games to play with your dog: It's possible to keep a dog engaged and exercised even when he can't get outside to play. This list of indoor games will come in handy the next time it's raining too much for an outdoor session of fetch.

10 brain games to play with your dog: Exercising a dog's brain is as important as exercising his body. These puzzles and games will push your dog to think in new ways.

10 best videos for clicker training your dog: Clicker training has proven to be an important ally in teaching dogs new tricks and behaviors. It involves using a sound marker — like a "click" from a small device — to mark a behavior, telling a dog at the exact moment when he does something you want him to do again. It's highly effective and is based in rewarding your dog. This selection of videos shows how to use clicker training for teaching things like sit, stay, getting eye contact or even stopping your dog from pulling on the leash.

The outdoor dog: Camping, hiking, running, biking, traveling and more

There are many ways to include your dog on your outdoor adventures. There are many ways to include your dog in your outdoor adventures. (Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch)

One of the great pleasures of having a dog is taking the dog along on runs, bike rides, road trips and other outdoor adventures. There's a lot to know about keeping your dog safe and healthy. Learn how to train your dog so he's ready for the trail, how to know when the dog is hitting his limit of endurance, what to pack for traveling and even how to train your dog to carry food and water in a pack.

A complete guide to taking road trips with your dog: Ready to hit the open road? Don't leave without double-checking that you've packed these few essentials, have downloaded these apps to your phone, and have gone over these safety tips.

How to start running with your dog: Having your dog as a companion for your exercise routine is fantastic! Here's everything you need to know to make sure your dog is having as much fun and staying as healthy as you are during your runs together.

How to turn a dog walk into a dog challenge: Are your daily walks getting a little routine? Is your dog showing signs of impatience or boredom? You can have more fun, get more training in, and increase your bond with your dog by spicing up your walks with a few of these fun ideas.

How to safely bike with your dog: Taking your dog along with you during bike rides can be great exercise. Here are tips on how to get started, how to train your dog to run beside you, and gear ideas for keeping your dog safely leashed to your bike.

How to hike with your dog: Tips, rules and great gear: Getting on the trail requires more than just a map. This article has training tips, notes on trail etiquette, and a list of some great gear that'll help make the miles easier and safer.

How to train your dog to wear a backpack: A backpack is a great idea to help a dog get more exercise while on walks, and to help carry food and water while hiking or backpacking. Here's all you need to know to teach your dog to happily wear a backpack.

Camping tips: How to enjoy the great outdoors with your dog: If you have ever wanted to take your dog camping, this guide has everything you need to know from what to pack to safety tips. Take your four-legged best friend on your next outdoor adventure!

Dog health: What senior dogs need, treating anxiety and more

Help your dog age gracefully and live their last years comfortably. Help your dog age gracefully, and it will make the final years more comfortable. (Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock)

Dogs come with their own set of unique health issues. From common allergies to getting older, here are some health issues to keep an eye on.

7 things your senior dog would like to tell you: As dogs age, their needs change. From having a harder time getting around the house to developing new anxieties, here are some of the things your senior dog needs you to know about his needs as he gets older.

How can I help my dog age gracefully?: We all want older dogs to be as pain-free and frisky as when they were puppies. Here's what you need to know to help your dog have the most comfort in the later years, from keeping up the exercise to changing up the kinds of toys the dog plays with.

7 natural remedies for anxious dogs: Whether it's general anxiety, a fear of traveling in the car or the sound of thunder, here are some natural treatments that could help your nervous dog.

10 reasons your dog is snoring: It could be just the way your dog's snout is built, or it could be a sign of illness. Here are common reasons why dogs snore and when you may need to pay attention to the noise.

Why do dogs lick themselves excessively?: It might seem natural for a dog to lick a lot but sometimes it's a sign of something more serious, from allergies to parasites to pain.

Feeding your dog: Recipes, healthy habits, foods to avoid and more

Learn about what kinds of foods are good for your dog, which are bad, and how to make special treats. Learn about what kinds of foods are good for your dog, which are bad, and how to make special treats. (Photo: Nadezhda V. Kulagina/Shutterstock)

Perhaps the one thing you think about most when it comes to your dog is what they eat — including treats. Which foods are healthy, which are dangerous, is it safe to go vegetarian, and what does grain-free mean? All these questions and more are answered here. You'll also find a few special recipes as well!

The most dangerous foods for dogs: Before we dive into a few delicious recipes, there are handful of foods that dogs should avoid at all costs. This handy chart is a great thing to have on hand for reference.

11 human foods dogs can eat and 5 they shouldn't: Sometimes it's hard to know which human foods dogs can eat, and which they can't. This list will help clear up a few questions.

Why you shouldn't feed your dog people food: If you're tempted to feed your dog scraps from the table, this article will help you realize why you shouldn't.

How to make a dog birthday cake: Birthday cakes? You bet! These recipes are both safe and delicious, perfect for celebrating a dog's birthday or Got You day.

How to make ice cream for dogs: What is cake without ice cream? This recipe walks you through making the perfect treat for a hot summer day or a special occasion.

Don't let your dog eat peanut butter with xylitol: Dogs sure do love peanut butter but not all peanut butters are safe for dogs. Here's why you'll want to check the ingredients list on your jar of peanut butter.

What should you look for in a dog food?: It's hard to know how to select the best food for your dog. This article explains how to narrow your options based on the ingredients list and the types of nutrients dogs need to be healthy.

Is a vegetarian diet safe for my dog?: Some dog owners are vegetarian or vegan and want their dog to have the same diet. Is it safe for your dog? This article looks at both sides of the debate.

3 reasons to consider feeding your dog or cat a grain-free diet: It's common for dogs to have allergies related to a diet that contains corn, wheat and other grains used as "filler" in dog foods. Would it benefit your dog to go grain-free?

Does your dog have food allergies?: Learn the common symptoms of food allergies in dogs, and which foods are often the culprit. If your dog is always itchy, sneezes a lot or is constantly licking his paws, it could be a food allergy that's to blame.

Are there natural remedies to help my dog's bad breath?: And before we leave the topic of what to put in your dog's mouth, we must cover the issue of bad breath. Here are solutions for a dog's smelly breath.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

MNN's definitive guide to dogs
Everything you need to know to get a handle on dog ownership is now in one convenient place.