by: Gordie Guide
So you've decided you want a dog. Congratulations! Have you started to look around? Maybe you already have a breed in mind. That's great.
But before you dive headlong into the selection and buying process, it would be wise to step back for a moment. It doesn't matter whether you have strong preferences already or you may still be completely open.
What does matter is for you to fill in any gaps in your knowledge about your future pet now, instead of regretting anything later. So let's do some fundamental research by considering the following questions about choosing the best breed of dog for you.
These guiding questions are based on 60 years of having pets, helping friends and family choose their new dog and my volunteer work at our local Humane Society.
What can you afford right now? Remember to consider total costs of having a dog and not just the initial purchase price. Things like food, toys, medicines, vet bills, size and appetite. Calculate a monthly operating expense and include annual checkups, vaccinations, emergencies, etc.
2. Purchase Location
Where will you get the dog: a rescue shelter, pet shop, breeding farm or humane society?
How will the dog be trained? For example, will you send your dog to Crate Training or Obedience School? How smart does your dog need to be?
4. Age of Dog
How old will the dog be? Should you get a puppy or a mature, trained dog? Puppies can be a lot of fun, but a lot more work. What is the expected lifespan of the dog?
5. Size of Dog
How big will the dog get and how much space do you have for a dog, in your apartment, house, yard, or car? Puppies grow up quickly and you'll want to give them a happy spacious environment.
6. Activity Level
How much energy will the dog typically have? How often will it need to be walked and/or run? How much playtime? Some dog breeds require more maintenance than others.
7. Attention Needs
The American Humane Society deems it animal cruelty to leave dogs tied up or left in a small space for long periods of time. They have found that dogs abandoned in this way become depressed, anti-social, ill and even aggressive.
How long will the dog be left alone? What will the dog do while you are not home?
Many an owner has come home to a mess because their dog was lonely, angry, sick, or just had to 'go' and couldn't wait any longer.
How much time will you need to spend on walking, grooming, training? Having a dog is a responsibility of time, energy and finance. Be sure you can make this commitment.
8. Physical Characteristics
How soft a fur do you want your dog to have and what color? Can you tolerate seasonal shedding? Are there any allergy concerns in your family?
What are the socialization skills for this breed of dog? Will the dog be compatible with people, kids, neighbors and other pets? Ideally, you want the dog to fit into your lifestyle and get along with everyone.
Will the dog be protective? Will the dog bite? Dog breeds do differ, and will adjust somewhat to their environment. Be sure to consider this when determining what breed of dog to get.
Remember to do your homework before you fall in love with a dog that may not be a good fit for you and your family. Make it a decision of both your mind and heart, so you'll enjoy years of comfort and love with your new best friend.