When you are thinking about adding a new member to your family, there are several factors to consider. You may be asking yourself the following questions:
- What kind of dog should I get?
- Is this the right dog for my family in particular?
- What situation or environment was the dog in before I bought them?
You want to make sure that the dog you are adding to your family is the right dog, and that you are getting them from the best situation possible. Considering these factors ahead of time will ensure that the transition is as easy as possible for both you and your new family member. There are a lot of questions to consider, and sometimes it’s hard to know what the right answer is. DogBoy’s is here to help you through this big decision, and help make sure you end up becoming a satisfied and happy dog owner.
First things first: How to choose the breed of dog
The first thing that most people start thinking about when looking at adding a new dog to their home, is what breed of dog to get. Most passionate and devoted dog people have a list of breeds we would love to own. We also all have that short list of “great family dogs” we remember so fondly. One of the most important things to keep in mind while you are looking at breeds, is that not all dogs fit the breed standard. However, there are definitely some guidelines to follow.
Some questions you should ask yourself when considering different breeds of dogs:
- What kind of dog do you want?
- What types of activities do you want to do with your dog?
- What type of canine companion are you expecting to get?
- What size of dog do you want?
- How will your current living situation be affected by your new dog?
- How will your career affect the relationship you have with your dog?
Taking the time to clearly answer these questions for yourself up front can quickly narrow the search for your new dog. For instance, if you are looking for a mellow couch potato buddy, a Belgian Malinois is probably not the best breed of dog for you to be looking at. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that you should only be looking at Basset Hounds, or other such “droopy” dogs. In fact, we know quite a few active Bassets Hounds out here at the Ranch.
Remember: If you are looking at a specific breed, it is just as important to take the dog’s individual personality into account.
However, breed is still an important factor. If you travel a lot, and want your dog to come with you, you should look closely at what small breeds you would enjoy. If you are looking for a sporting companion, then you should look into active working breed dogs. No matter what you want to accomplish with your dog, you can find the right fit, but make sure that you are clear on what you want with your dog. Looks alone do not make a good breed selection. German Shepherds sure are cute, but they are not always the best lazy companion.
There are lots of “What breed is right for me” quizzes out there, but I strongly recommend sticking to a reputable source, like the AKC, and checking out all of the information they have to offer.
Also, it’s important to remember that just because you grew up with an awesome Sheltie/Border Collie/Lab, etc. that your new dog of the same breed will likely be worlds apart from that perfect dog you grew up with as a child.
So, you’ve chosen a breed. Now, you might be asking “Where should I get a new dog from?”
Second: Choosing between a Dog Breeder and a Dog Rescue
Now you have to decide, breeder or rescue? This is a truly personal decision. Whichever direction you end up choosing, there are different guidelines to follow.
Looking at dog breeders.
This is one of the most stigmatized ways of getting a dog in our modern world. People tend to look down on those who go to breeders over rescues, but there is no reason for that. We are all dog lovers. There are many things that going to a breeder will provide you, that a rescue will not. Reputable breeders spend years planning their litters, and for some people this is an important factor in their decision to bring a new dog into their family. Other people may consider getting a dog from a rescue as an opportunity to perform a service to their community. These are both equally valid reasons to choose a dog breeder or a rescue. It is a difficult personal choice that no one should judge.
These days the breeding world has become so overpopulated, that it can be difficult to find a reputable breeder. There are a few important things to look out for. The most important thing is to meet your breeder multiple times before committing to a puppy, and making sure you feel comfortable.
Dog breeders you should buy from:
Ideally, you want to be able to visit the breeder’s home. You should have visible evidence that the puppies are receiving socialization, and be able to meet the parents. A good breeder will not let you take your puppy before 8 weeks of age. Additionally, they will likely have you sign a contract in regards to spaying and neutering, as well as stating that should you ever not be able to care for the dog, it should be returned to them. Good breeders will have fewer litters, and will want to be involved in their puppy’s life. This is a great checklist, from the Humane Society of the United States, for finding a good breeder.
Dog breeders you should not buy from:
As much as they tug at your heartstrings, you should never get a puppy from a truck in a parking lot, off of craigslist, or from a pet store (unless it is a rescue group hosting adoptions). These are typically “Backyard Breeders” or “Puppy mills” and the health of that puppy will be in question. You should also avoid getting dogs from a friend who “just happened to have a litter”. Here is a great article that goes over a few more red flags to look out for.
Dog Shelter vs. Dog Rescue
Choosing between a shelter or a rescue is another personal choice that depends on the preference of each individual future dog owner. Either way, you are helping save lives. The primary difference between a rescue group and a local shelter is that a rescue group is a network of volunteer foster homes, where as a local shelter is a facility that can house the dogs. This article goes a little more in depth as to the differences between the two.
In general, dog rescues can give you a better idea of what kind of dog you would be living with. In a foster situation, the dog lives in the home just like the resident dogs. The people involved with the rescue will be able to tell you a little more about a settled personality in your dog. Some shelters will be able to give you a good idea as well, but a dog’s personality will change from a shelter to a home more radically than it will from a foster/rescue situation to a home.
Either way, it is important to pay close attention to the information given about a dog. Listen to the people who work with the dogs, and take their advice seriously. In my personal experience, shelter workers and foster parents can help a great deal in picking out a dog that will fit very nicely in your home.
Third: “So, how do I choose what puppy to get?”
Whether you are choosing a dog at a breeder or a shelter, there are a few things to look out for. As tempting as it might be to pick the dog that is the most active, that can sometimes be evidence of an overactive dog. Again, go back to your list of expectations for your new dog. If you are looking for a mellow buddy, you don’t want to pick the bounciest puppy in the bunch. If you are looking for an extremely active new friend, then maybe that is the dog for you.
On the other side, you may not want to pick the dog that is huddled in the corner, because you think they will be mellow. Moving away from the commotion and finding a quiet corner seems like a nice thing for a dog to do, but it may be an indicator of a fearful dog. In a puppy, this could be an indicator of a genetic fearfulness. In an adult dog, this behavior can be an indicator of a lack of socialization. Either way, it can be a lot of extra work for an owner. If you aren’t looking for a “project dog”, it’s not usually a good idea.
The best thing to do is pick from the dogs that behave in the middle of these two extremes. The ones that are happy to see you, but aren’t bouncing off the walls like they just ate a pack of pixie sticks.
Your new best friend
Whichever route you decide to go, you will have a new best friend, and that is very exciting! My personal process for choosing a new dog is to let them choose me. My dog’s have either just happened into my life, or I walked through the shelter and got lost in some deep brown eyes along the way.
It can be a daunting process, and if it’s one that has you worried then give DogBoy’s a call! Our training team or staff would be happy to help you choose your new family member, and make recommendations on how to help in the process of getting them acquainted to living in your home.
New Puppy by qJake
Cachorros by Luis Munoz
Sky… by Brian Kelly