We have done a fair number of articles in the past on considerations when selecting your new dog or your additional dog that is new to a pack. Here are the links to those articles below:
- Considerations before getting a dog
- Pros and cons of owning a toy breed or tiny dog
- Tips about a new puppy
- Tips for bonding with an adult rescue dog
- Adding to a your already dog owning family or multiple dog issues
The above articles and the current article is going to give you an incomplete picture of the many ways of acquiring a dog and knowing what a domestic dog's needs are. That information has a thousand moving parts. Books and videos of many hours and pages have not captured everything there is to know about this. So I am writing a brief summary that will hopefully help, if you are thinking about adding a domestic canine to your family now.
I am assuming from this point on, you have read all the things to consider in the above posted articles and more. You have decided you are ready for the time, commitment, mess, inconvenience (sometimes), immediate needs of the dog, extra curricular needs of the dog, and your need to be ready to make a relationship with your dog. Dogs are fantastic, but we are in a relationship with them. We need to know how to do our part to make them comfortable upon arrival and in the indefinite future. It is a relationship between two different species. They have to know how to manage in our world and that they can count on us. We need them to not do some things that are in their nature or have a way to manage those with the comfort and happiness of the dog in mind.
Another thing you have to consider is NOT how cute that puppy or dog is in the window. This is not a responsible way to pick out your new canine best companion as a future dog owner or future additional dog owner. What is your lifestyle like? What temperament and characteristics may best fit with you and your family? If you have kids, this is such an important consideration. If you have family members or even yourself with special needs, you really REALLY need to give this a lot of thought. There is most likely a dog out there that will work, if you have decided you truly want a dog. Nothing is a guarantee, so many things happen along the way (medical, environmental, stress in your life you haven't even considers and will sneak up, and so on). You can try your best to stack the deck in both your and your future dog for less drama and angst. Here are some things you should answer for yourself first:
At Least 10 Considerations When Choosing A Dog or Puppy:
- What things are you looking for to REALISTICALLY do with your dog? If you are not a policeman, you are probably not going to be looking for a dog bred to do police work (or you shouldn't be anyway). Do you want a walking companion? Is there a dog sport that you can realistically (time effort work and more time effort work and money) want to do with your future dog? Do you like dog training and want to do tricks with your dog? Do you want a dog that you can bring to work? Do you want a service dog for yourself or a family member (and have researched and realized what that all entails)? Are you home-bound a lot and need a companion that will be content with being with you and not hoarding all that unrealized energy (that will search for a job later that is unwanted by you)? Do you want to hike, bike, or camp with your future dog? Do you have a large track of land, and want to do activities with your future dog there? Do you live in a crowded city in an apartment and need a dog that you can get easily in and out without a lot of excitement or misplaced aggression? Do you need your future dog to easily be able to deal with a lot of young active children around?
- What temperaments, ages (some older dogs are still quite peppy, but just in general older dogs are usually a bit more mellow), breeds (there are various spectrum ranges on every breed, but the general characteristics may give you an idea of what you are looking for temperament wise) and other characteristics are ideal for the activities that you want to do regularly with your dog?
- What kind of problems (which are unknown at this point) are you able to or feel you are able to handle when getting a dog? For instance, my husband and my self have no children. So as adults with no minors in the house, we have a pretty full range of behaviors we can deal with, especially because I am a dog trainer. In a different situation, that would be a very limited amount of temperaments. If you are caring for an older or infirm relative for instance, that will limit what you can reasonably deal with as oncoming problems with your future canine. Allergies can limit the focus of what breeds you may be able to have as well, or you may need to look into medicines that will help you. I am allergic and there are two allergy medicines I take everyday and a cream that I use when I feel my skin getting itchy. However, medicines do not perform as well from one person to another, and sever allergies can have a real negative impact on another's life (problems breathing, chronic itchiness). A dog may have special physical needs as well, and depending on how big that breed is----your home might not be the best equipped to take care of that dog. It is an infinite list. Think a lot about this.
- Related to point three, size of the dog is a consideration. Above you will see that we put together the pros and cons of having a toy breed or tiny dog. I wrote this, because Ziggy (our Chihuahua) was our first personal tiny dog. I have always had larger dogs, so I did not write a piece yet on the pros and cons of larger dogs. Obviously though things to think about are if you are physically capable of handling the size of dog you want (or do you have a contact in the training community that can help you out with that). Our breed is Doberman, and so I am doing my best to work out physically in my older age so I can at least have one more of working ability in my lifetime (without help from someone else).
- What are you looking for your future dog to know or be prepared for already? Puppies are obviously (or usually) a clean slate, though you still want to look at temperament of the puppy coming in to be able to loosely predict the challenges (again environment, injury, illness, and other future events may all throw a huge wrench in that). Rescues that do not churn out dogs know their dogs a bit better. They can usually guide you in the behavioral challenges or special skills of the dogs that they have. Responsible breeders not only know their lines well (which again is not a guarantee for anything just responsible stacking the deck in everyone's favor), but they also know the whereabouts of the now adult dogs that were their dog's offspring. Often there may be a dog out there that lost their owner, or an owner needs to move into a facility. A responsible breeder may know of a dog that has been trained or is incredibly temperamentally sound (if that is what you are looking for) or is a great working prospect. Additionally, there are people who sell dogs that have already been trained for something. These come with a big price tag for obvious reasons (and if they come from a responsible training outfit) that probably barely covers the work that went into them. It is an option if you have the funds for this (do remember though, this does not mean no work for you).
- What are you able to pay for in caring for your future dog? Yes, please look at dog food prices, how much a dog needs to eat, enrichment items, bedding for the dog or the increase expense of more bedding for your bed, veterinary costs annually and emergency wise, grooming costs (if you need it and are unable to do it yourself or don't want to do it), housecleaning yourself or paying someone to come in (your house is going to be dirtier than usual---skin cells and fur), increases in your insurance for certain breeds and so on.
- What breeds (if any) does your municipal or state government or homeowner's association or apartment management not allow? You do not want your heart broken or need to move when you find this out at a later date! I have Dobermans so I am never going to move into or stay in a state with restrictions on this that can be quite tragic for anyone.
- How clean do you like your house to be? Oh your house is about to get dirtier, but the good news is you can make a breed or characteristic decision that helps you. There are some breeds that drool (not a little but a lot). Some breeds are going to have way more hair and shedding seasons. Other breeds, due to being large, are going to shed more skin cells (dust as we know it). There are activities that you do with your dog in which cleanliness is not an ideal, so you will need at least some sort of plan in place.
- How long would you ideally like your dog to live? If you want a dog to live over 15 years old, larger dogs are generally not going to be able to hold out that long physically. Also, you may be an older person who is thinking about how many years you have left. Then you may not want to get a young dog that may have 25 years or more, unless you have a fail sage plan on where they can land, among other factors to consider.
- Do you have the ability to pay for corrective surgery if needed? Some breeds have shorter noses or other things that may need correcting for their health later. If you don't have the funds to deal with that and make an informed decision later, I would avoid those breeds that have common health issues. For instance, pugs have a notoriously hard time breathing because of their short noses. It is a well known problem within the breed. Sometimes a corrective surgical procedure can make breathing easier for them.