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Just about every week I get called in to do a behavior consultation for a dog whose only real problem is that he’s stuck with the wrong humans. Or more accurately, his owner chose him for the wrong reasons. It always amazes me how so many people put so little thought into their choice of dogs. Instead of making an educated decision based on close observation, deliberation and research, they just go for the cute furry face and/or the long sob story that comes along with it.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because we make the same mistakes picking our romantic partners with the same disastrous results. We’ve all been guilty of dating someone just because physically they’re a total knockout without really looking into what kind of personality they have. And all those kinds of relationships end one of two ways: quickly or badly (for me it was always both).

Getting a dog is not like buying a shirt. If the cool looking shirt we buy itches us like crazy, we just donate to Goodwill or use it to clean our toilet. That dog we brought home a week ago on a whim because he was so cute and had a hard luck story, however, cannot be so easily discarded. I know you mean well, but you’re really doing the worst thing for both you and the dog.

I strongly believe that there is the right person out there for every dog. But the other side of that is that for every right person for the dog there are a multitude of mismatches. You have to be realistic when looking to add a dog to your life and ask yourself some tough questions. Instead of beginning and basing your search for your new dog on the appearance of the dog, look first for personality and temperament. If you neglect to really research what kind of energy level and breed you’re bringing home you may be in for a harsh reality once your new pooch settles in at home.

A great example of this is when the TV show Frasier was popular many people fell in love with Kelsey Grammer’s furry co-star, Eddie and ran out and got Jack Russell Terriers. Wow, were they in for a big surprise when they discovered that their dog didn’t want to just lounge on the couch while laugh tracks played in the background, but instead required three hours of hard core, high impact exercise each and every day to keep them sane.

Then there are the good hearted people who rescue a dog with just because they feel sorry for its situations or back story. Another huge mistake. Yes, it’s amazingly admirable that you want to help this dog but if you don’t make sure you are the right match for him, you will not be helping him at all.

The decision to bring a dog into your life is a big one, both for you and the dog. Make sure you really think hard about the decision and base your search first on personality and temperament, then on looks. If you do that, you won’t have to pay me to come over and laugh at you as you tell me that you don’t know why your two-year-old Dalmatian destroyed your house, when you always give him his daily exercise of two, five minute walks around the block (on behalf of all the Dalmatians out there, thanks for nothing Disney).

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