Friday, November 22, 2013

Advice on Choosing a Dog (for my "non-dog-crazy" friends)

Often I feel like I'm in the strange position of living in/between 2 worlds.  Let's call those worlds they "crazy dog" world and the "normal" world.  This post is not for my "crazy dog" friends - you'll know all this stuff.  This post is for my "normal" friends who decide they want a dog.  In case I don't talk to you before you take the plunge, please keep these things in mind before you get a dog:

These dogs invariably come from a puppy mill somewhere (no reputable breeder would sell their dogs to a pet store) - meaning that dogs from a pet store are sending money to people who treat dogs like a cash crop, not like thinking, feeling beings.

FIGURE OUT WHAT TRAITS you want a dog to have.
Things like size, energy level, amount of training needed, how much grooming required, friendliness (to dogs and humans), protectiveness, and energy level (did I mention that already?) all really matter.  Think about what you want in a dog before you choose a dog.

BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR ANSWERS to the traits above.  
If you're not honest with yourself, you're asking for trouble.  E.g., a high energy dog means you'll have to exercise them a lot if both of you are to remain sane.  A dog may be really cute, but if it's not a good fit, both you and the dog will be miserable.

Find breeds that fit with the traits you're looking for.

There are a number of "dog breed selector" tools online that can help you narrow things down.  I also found a dog breed comparison chart online that I think is good.  Both of these can help you narrow down and/or compare breeds.

When you've narrowed it down to a handful of breeds do even more research to find out what the breeds are like to live with.  I'd start at the American Kennel Club breed index  and the breed club websites (just search for the breed name and "club" to get started).  What do they say about what it's like to live with this breed?  Go to some breeder websites.  What do they say?  Make sure your life fits with what the dog requires.

And YES, this matters even if you're getting a dog from a shelter.  Learning about breed traits means  you'll have an idea of what breeds/mixes you can live with - and those that you can't - when you're looking at a dog in the shelter.

If you're not getting a dog from a shelter or breed rescue, you want to find a great breeder.  This breeder will ask you as many (or more) questions than you ask them.  They will make you sign a contract, and provide references.  They'll check your references.  They will health test their breeding animals to try and minimize health problems prevalent in the breed. Their puppies will be part of their family.

The right puppy from the right breeder may not be available right away.  This goes for shelter or rescue dogs, too.  Wait for the right dog to come along, one that really fits your lifestyle.

Breeders get to know the puppies they have, and put a lot of thought into which homes they place which puppies.  You may think one dog is the cutest, but that one may not be the best fit for you.  Trust that they want to match the right dogs with the right homes.  After all, they want both you and their canine babies to be happy together for as long as possible.

It may take a long time to find the right dog, but be patient and enjoy the journey.  Your new dog will be part of your family (if you're lucky) for a long time, but a time that's always too short.  So enjoy it all!

1 comment:

  1. I have always enjoyed having one of the large dog breeds and it wasn’t until my brother brought home a Beagle puppy from college that I had ever had any real contact with a little dog. It’s not that I don’t like little dogs, there are some really cute small dog breeds, and it’s just that I have grown so accustomed to having one of the large dog breeds that I can’t imagine having other type puff dog. Looking for large dog breeds for families Wondering what large dog breeds are good with kids or would be good for apartments Find out here A complete list of large dog breeds


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