Taking the time and effort to research and make the right decision when picking a new dog is crucial. The number of times I’ve seen clients come in looking shell shocked with a dog whose breed and temperament is profoundly unmatched to the persons life style is astounding. Whether it be the puppy who was so cute and fluffy as an 8 week old or the the sad eyed dog in the shelter who needed a home, people do what comes naturally, we go with our heart. That’s a good thing, rescues need homes, and if you are getting a puppy, then you certainly want to think it’s a cute one.
The problem arises when we pick a dog solely on appearance. When we say,”That’s the dog I want”, without giving serious consideration to its breed traits, temperament and energy level. Granted, with rescues we are often left to guess what sort of breeds may have come together to form our desired friend, but there are still important factors to take into account. And even different lines within a breed can vary considerably in their characteristics.
As responsible owners, both the dog’s best interest and a reasonable evaluation of our circumstances should be performed. I cannot stress enough the importance of doing the research to ensure that you, your family, and the dog have the best chance for success and happiness. It is all too common that a new dog is given up because it was not the right fit for the home, or the dog is kept, but dog and owner both live lives of frustration.
I suggest taking an objective look at the lifestyle and activity level of the household and how a certain breed of dog will fit in. Do family members work a lot? How much time is available for exercising and training the dog? Do family members walk or run at all, are there children? How many, and how old are they? What expectation does each member of the household have for the new four legged addition and what are they willing and able to provide, time and energy wise, to the dog?
A family with a hectic schedule that doesn’t have much extra time, or a single person who works a lot and isn’t often home, may want to reconsider getting a working breed like the Husky or the Border Collie. People who want a dog that will be very active, go on jogs with them, and engage in lots of sustained physical activities, may do well to avoid getting a Bulldog or a Pekingese. Look into the traits of each breed you are considering, do those characteristics seem like a good fit for your home?
If you’re getting a puppy, do you know the breeder? Have you been able to observe the dam and sire or know the line’s history? If you are adopting a rescue, have you interacted with the dog as much as possible, inquired about their temperament and energy level, found out what there is to know about their history? I always encourage people to choose their new dog carefully. Too often the shelters are revolving doors because there wasn’t a thorough enough consideration before the dog was taken home.
I am strong proponent of adoption. Roxy, my Pit Bull, was rescued from a very bad situation which had left her extremely dog aggressive. While working with her she quickly stole my heart and I adopted her. I did this knowing her behavioral needs. I was fortunate in that I am a trainer who has a lot of experience working aggression cases. I am not saying that high energy dogs, or dogs with real or potential behavioral issues should be cast aside. I am saying that an owner should go into the situation knowing what they are getting into and decide if that is what they truly want. And for those who do adopt these dogs, and expend the time, effort, and, patience to work with them, I have the utmost respect.
I’ll be the first to say that ANY dog can learn the basics: sit, down, stay, come, and heel. But some require much more training than others, and training, at its core, is patience, repetition, and being consistent. Does an owner have the time and resources to devote to teaching the dog? This is a critical question to ask.
So, go out and get that new companion. Do so equipped with the knowledge of what you are looking for, what type of dog will best compliment your lifestyle, what type of dog you can give the best life to. Bond with them through training, and embark on that cherished journey of companionship.