You Have Decided to Get a Dog – What Now?

There are several points to consider when the decision has been made to bring a dog into your life.  Three that immediately come to mind:

  • Why are you getting a dog?
  • What breed of dog to get?
  • Why are you getting that specific breed?
  • Should you consider a rescue?

In many cases, more thought is given to what cell phone to get next or what carrier to switch to for the new plan than is given to what kind of dog to have in your life for the next ten or so years.

Many disagreements arise when considering what kind of new appliances to get or what kind of vehicle to buy next because one person has a list of criteria that don’t quite match with the other person’s. How many animated discussions have there been about the new family car being a mini-van or what neighborhood to live in or where to vacation? Why is there so much consternation over such decisions? Because we want to be sure the decision being made is the right one.

The same consideration must be given to a dog and the process of getting a dog. If the decision made is not the right one, the dog often pays the price by being dropped at a pound or put in a rescue program and then there is the potential of causing emotional pain within the family.

When I ask people why did they get a particular dog, more than 90% respond they like the way they look, which is completely understandable. Very few respond with a more practical perspective. For example: I am a runner and want a running companion or they are great with kids or I hunt or they are so intelligent. Dogs in the media also have an influence on the acquisition of a new furry friend. Every time there is release of 101 Dalmatians, there is a spike in the demand for Dalmatians. Thanks to some current television shows, there seems to be a rise in the popularity of Belgian Malinois. Movies like Marley and Me and the ultimate feel good family dog movie Beethoven influence to a certain degree purchases of those respective breeds. Who doesn’t want a big goofy soft furry huge cuddly dog romping around the yard to flop on a bed with?

How do we avoid putting an innocent dog and unwitting family members through the turmoil of having to removing a pet from the home? Put a considerable effort into what kind of dog to get and give plenty of though as to what is means to have a dog in your life. Here are some suggestions to maximize chances of making the best choice.

  • Google that stuff! There is an abundance of information available on line from credible sources about dogs.
  • Consider your lifestyle: high, medium or low activity? If you want a running companion, do not get a: Chihuahua, any Mastiff, Basset Hound or English Bulldog would fit a low key lifestyle. If you want dog for companionship and are not so active, do not get a Vizla, Jack Russell or a Weimaraner. If you do not want a dog that runs away from you, avoid Beagles and most Huskies.
  • Cost of ownership is important to consider. It would be wrong to get have a pup for a period of time and decide this is too expensive or worse, neglect the dogs health. Expenses to consider are: health-care (vet) quality food, dog toys, crate, other expected and unexpected costs.
  • Time and potential cost of training. Many dogs are ousted from homes because of behaviour related issues. Pretty much anything you could think of here would be correct in terms of behavioural issues and have probably heard stories from friends or colleagues about such dogs.
    • Shar Peis are so cute, I did not realize they were bred as guard dogs.
    • I had no idea a Jack Russell was so energetic!
    • We had no idea Leonbergers got so big.Get professional opinions. Ask a vet, dog walker or trainer about what you are looking for in a dog and what dogs to potentially avoid. It is incredible how many people are unaware of the origins and characteristics of the dog they selected to live with them and their family.

Do you have time for a dog? Some experts say a dog needs four walks, thirty minute each, per day for physical and mental well being – everyday – seven days a week – fifty-two weeks a year. Most dogs definitely need a good sixty-minute outing in the morning and at least forty-five minutes in the evening. Failing this, many dogs will likely use up their energy-burn requirements by destroying household items and who knows what could happen outdoors!

Dogs do not come pre-programmed. As mentioned, each breed has different characteristics and there are even differences between dogs within breeds. There are Labrador Retrievers that don’t retrieve, Dobermans that don’t protect and Aussies that don’t herd. If a breed has characteristics that are appealing, say a dog to go duck hunting, those breed characteristics must be developed, nurtured and managed through regular and well executed training.

Careful thought and consideration must be given when a decision has been made to get a dog. The payoffs and rewards can last a lifetime.

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