Adding a dog or puppy to your home is a serious undertaking. It should not be done on a whim (i.e. your kids torturing you). Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. Each specific breed has characteristics that most dogs of that breed will exhibit. Doing your homework and selecting the right breed for your family is the single most important thing you can do to ensure a happy ending for both you and your pet.
Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself before you pile into the mini-van and head off to the shelter or pet store (heaven forbid).
1) What am I looking for in a dog?
Are you looking for a yippy little thing to sit in your lap and keep you company while watching Judge Judy? If so, a Bichon or a Chihuahua might be your best choice. Or maybe, you’re looking for a jogging partner. If that’s the case, a Siberian Husky or an Irish setter will run along side of you until your Nikes and your knees turn to dust. If you’re in the witness protection program, perhaps a big fanged German Shepherd or Rottweiler will do the trick. Whatever your needs are for a dog, I assure you there is a breed best suited for the job you want to give it.
2) What is my family’s lifestyle?
Do you have an active household with lots of people coming and going or does your living situation more closely resemble that of the Unibomer? Dogs like Golden Retrievers and Labradors generally love people and thrive in active households. Other breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher or Kuvasz are typically better suited to less active homes without a large number of shady strangers coming and going.
Another important factor to consider is who lives in your home. Are there small children in the house? How about frail senior citizens with highly breakable bones? One overexcited Old English Sheepdog can inadvertently squash a small child and take out both Grandma and Grandpa’s hips without even noticing. Do your best to match the breed to your specific lifestyle and you’ll greatly enhance your chance of success.
3) What are my living arrangements?
Do you live in a small apartment or do you have a large home with a big yard? Will your new puppy sleep in a crate in the kitchen or on your bed? Where will you put the puppy when you’re not at home? These are important questions that should answered before you start opening cans of Purina Puppy Chow. You’d be surprised how many people acquire a dog and then think about all these things later. Later is usually early Monday morning as they’re frantically trying to wall-off their kitchen before rushing off to work. The prudent dog owner gives very careful consideration to where their new dog will sleep and stay when unsupervised… well before his cute little paws hit the floor. Take my advice, a little thought and consideration here will save your sanity, your Persian rug and quite possibly your marriage.
Once you have some solid answers to the above questions and everyone in your family is in agreement, you’re ready to start looking for your new canine companion.