Lets say you’ve decided to get a dog (or another dog). Cool, good for you. However, before you run out and grab the first furry little face that crosses your path, there’s much to consider.
First, you should really think long and hard if getting a dog is the right thing for your family. That’s a topic for a whole other blog post, so I won’t get into it here. Let’s just assume you’ve thought long and hard about this and you’re not making an emotional and/or impulsive decision. Good for you again.
But don’t run out to your local rescue just yet (you weren’t thinking of going to a pet store were you? . . . Good. I would hate to start out my post by yelling at you) – there’s still much work to be done before you’re ready to interview some dogs.
You must, must, must make sure you’re going to bring home a dog that is the right fit for you, your family, your lifestyle, living situation and personality. . . Did I mention must?
Yes, you must. This is a critical step that way too many people gloss over in their haste for puppy love. I can’t tell you how many sessions I get called for to work on problem behaviors that are a direct result of choosing the wrong dog.
I don’t want you to be one of them, so listen up.
Questions to ask yourself
1. How much time to you have to put in? If you’ve got a lot of free time to spend with your new dog then a puppy might be a good choice. But if you can’t devote a lot of attention up front, you should opt for an older dog.
2. How much exercise can you provide? Different dogs require different amount of exercise and so many behavior problems are merely the result of an under-exercised pooch.
3. What life changes could occur in your future? Try to think ahead into your future. Moving to an apartment? Hope to get married? Thinking about having kids? You need to consider all of the future possibilities so you can choose a dog that will be suitable for your future plans.
4. What much money can you invest? Think about your finances and how much you have to invest in your new dog. Don’t get a large breed dog if you can’t afford to feed the big guy. Also factor in daycare, dog walking and grooming expenses.
5. How active are you? You need to find a dog that matches your activity level. If you tend to be a coach potato don’t choose a super active pit bull or lab.
Things to Consider About the Dog
1. Age. Everyone seems to want a puppy but they are a hell of a lot of work and come with 10 to 18 months of extra time an effort that needs to be put in. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of house training an adolescent dog is nice. And older dogs are a great choice for people who are looking for a lower maintenance dog that is a bit more laid back (depending upon the individual).
2. Energy level. I’m often amazed at how many people don’t really consider the energy level of the dog they’re about to bring into their life of the next ten to fifteen years. Make sure you understand the exercise requirements of the dogs you’re considering.
3. Physical and mental limitations and characteristics. Different breeds have different considerations. Any dog with a pushed in face (bulldog, put, boxer) is going to have some breathing difficulties and need to be monitored closely in heat and humidity. Any herding breed requires lots of mental stimulation to engage their minds – they are a handful if left idle.
4. Level of socialization. If you’ve got a cat, make sure the dog you’re bringing home is cat friendly. If you life has lots of kids in it, get a dog that has had some experience around children. If you life in city environment, the dog that has spend a good portion of his life in the country might not adjust too well.
My big point here is to think this through and make an educated decision instead of an emotional one. The cuteness factor, although important to consider, should not be the deciding factor on which dog to bring home. Appearance should be the last piece of the puzzle.
By considering everything we’ve discussed here you’ll be setting yourself up to be with your dog for the long haul instead of becoming one of those people who are forced to return their dog because it “wasn’t working out.” This is an important, life changing event and you should give it as much thought as possible because it involves the dog’s life as well as yours.
Be smart about your dog choice and you can create the perfect fit that will bring you so much joy and love. Enjoy those pooches!