Choosing the right dog for you will help it to be a smoother, simpler and more enjoyable experience for both of you.
I meet lots of dogs and owners who I would call a mismatch.
An elderly couple with a young hunting lines overly active lab pup is not an ideal match.
A young active couple who wants a hiking buddy probably shouldn’t get a French Bulldog.
A busy family with lots of children in and out who adopt a fear reactive dog that nips at people is going to be a lot of work and a lifetime of management on some level for everyones safety.
These owners could all own these dogs but are going to need to go above and beyond to find appropriate outlets, training, care and help for that dog to do well in their homes and lifestyles.
Almost any match of dog and owner can work IF the owner is committed and dedicated enough.
This can result in a very lengthy, difficult, and often expensive path if you didn’t plan ahead and get a dog that matches your current lifestyle.
I will note though that it can also be the most rewarding because in my experience its these owners who didn’t know what they were getting into but are 100% committed to the dog that wind up with the most incredible relationships with their dogs due to the time and growth involved together with them.
For example a young couple who got a Coonhound because its the breed they grew up with on property - but were in for a shock when they realized what raising it in the city & working full time would be like.
They now are one amazing happy family. But, its been a lot of hard work and daily ongoing dedication for them to appropriately meet the dogs daily exercise, training and mental stimulation needs. And these needs will continue on throughout this dogs life.
Not all dogs are so lucky to have owners who are willing to rearrange their time and resources to make the dog a priority and commit to them at this level.
Remember the dog doesn’t get much of a say in the matter - It’s YOU deciding to adopt or buy that particular dog or puppy.
So before we even THINK about the dog we want - Let’s look inward for a moment.
Why are you seeking out a dog?
What traits are you hoping for?
Cuddly? Play? Exercise Partner? Protection? Companionship?
What activities do you plan to partake in with your dog?
Daily walks? Once or Twice a day?
Join a dog sport? And Commit to attending a class or club for several hours once or twice a week?
What are non-negotiable things that are important to YOU and your lifestyle?
Good with children?
Already crate trained?
Good with cats?
Good with other dogs?
Do you Rent or Own your home?
Does your home owners insurance have breed restrictions?
Does your landlord have breed or size restrictions?
Do you have any plans to move in the foreseeable future?
Who will care for the dog when you are out of town?
Friend? Family? Have you already checked with them?
Have you researched cost of boarding?
Do you work from home?
Or long hours?
Is there a pet sitter locally that could walk the dog midday on long work days?
Now we have a better idea of what dog is going to be a good fit for YOU.
Here is a list of Things your dog will NEED!
Please be honest with yourself about your ability to provide them with the following, and if you slip up or make mistakes - because were human and that happens - are you prepared to pay a professional for help you?
Vet Care includes basic Shots, Heartworm prevenative, flea and tick prevention, and money available for unknown visits most ranging from $300-$2000 for typical emergency or last minute visits.
Grooming (By Yourself or a professional)
Do you have time for a full brush out every day? every other day? weekly?
Do you plan on hiking - how will having a long coated dog affect the things you want to do with them?
Have you budgeted for sending a longer coated dog to the groomer every other week or once a month?
Securely fenced yard? Does the dog have the ability to jump a fence?
Collar that fits snuggly.
Using confinement when unsupervised initially to keep them safe from chewing electrical chords or things that could harm them
(All dogs will have different levels of needs in this department, but you've done your homework so you know which dog your looking for that fits for you)
Training (By yourself or with help from a professional)
Dogs need structure in their life and want to feel safe knowing someone else is the leader.
Do you know how to fill that role?
It's important to set basic household rules.
One thing that I’ve noticed that EVERY client that calls for help and has behavioral issues, when I ask them what kind of household rules they have - Their answer is They don’t have any.
THIS alone can go along way in helping you have the right relationship and prevent problems. Start from day 1.
When your dogs training and exercise needs aren’t met, behavior problems are likely to arise.
And Obviously Food, Water and Shelter. But, if your reading this I know you already care about the dog your getting and it will have a spot in your cozy home so i’m not going to dive into that too deeply.
Now you have a pretty solid idea of your dogs needs as well as what you want and are able to provide for him/her to fit your lifestyle.
1st decision before you go looking for your new friend is what Age dog will fit best for you?
Each has their pros and cons and it comes down to whats right for YOU and YOUR family.
Each of these AGES can be found at the following: Shelter, Rescues, Private Party (Owner Surrenders and even breeders.
Please see my 2 Articles on Purpose Bred Dogs and Adopting a dog to help you in your decision of which route is better for you.
Next is Age..
Your starting from Scratch and have a Clean slate
Know exactly what your likely to get if from a breeder
Housebreaking can be messy and time consuming
Waking up in the middle of the night to take puppy out
Chewing on things, family members and yourself
Likely to have had some training
You already know what their going to be like - fairly predictable
Not quite as high energy but likely still active depending on the dog
May have some bad habits
Requires less exercise
Rewarding to give them the best in their golden years
Time with you shorter
May have more vet bills as they age
Now that your pondering age, know the needs AND have a good idea of what your looking for where to go from here?
You might already have some breeds in mind that interest you - because of looks, a friend had one or a breed you grew up with.
It’s valuable to research the breed and learn more about what they “TEND” to be like. I put that in quotes because there are things that are typical for a breed but its also REALLY important to know that each dog is an individual and you need to evaluate the dog in front of you and not just pick a dog out because they are supposed to be like “x”.
I can't encourage you enough to TALK to people experienced in the breeds your interested in. Most people involved in Breed Specific Rescue or a Breeder are very passionate about their love for the breed and will be more than happy to share a plethora of information about the breed with you. Pick up the phone and CALL!
You might find that your drawn to a specific collar, markings, or a look of one dog compared to another. I’m personally drawn to black and tan dogs via looks its just something I like and I think we all have an eye for something wether its black v.s. yellow labs. Red v.s. white golden retrievers or you really like the parti-color standard poodles instead of the brown.
Whatever catches your eye is ok, just don’t let color override what the dogs temperament is like when it comes down to make the decision.
If you are dead set on wanting a black lab and the litter you look at has 2 black labs, 3 yellows, and a brown. But temperament wise 2 of the yellows really are a better fit for you.
Either be willing to compromise and get a yellow OR be willing to wait until you find one in the color of your preference that is ALSO the right temperament for you.
As you go on your search for your new best friend take your time ASK lots of questions and be really forthright in what you are looking for and NEED in your life.
MOST Rescue organization, Shelters, Breeders and people rehoming dogs want whats best for the dog and will be happy to talk with you and help make sure that the dog they have is a good fit.
If you feel forced or pressured about a dog, or they don't seem to care if the dog fits your lifestyle GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.
This should be a fun enjoyable process to find your perfect match and by taking the time to research and plan you are doing whats in the best interest of not only this dogs future but also your own for the next 10+ years. And anyone selling or rehoming a dog with the right intentions should appreciate and be more than willing to support you in your search for the perfect dog.
The dog doesn't need to be "PERFECT" just Perfect for YOU!