Choosing the right dog for you is as important as choosing a pet whose needs you can meet. There are a variety of decisions that should be carefully thought out when contemplating making a pet a part of the family.
1. Make a checklist:
- Have I chosen a pet that will fit into my home and lifestyle?
- Do I have the financial resources to take care of a pet?
- Do I have the time to walk, groom, train and pay attention to a pet?
Whatever you do, don’t make getting a dog an impulse decision. This dog will be part of your life for years to come so do plenty of research before making the commitment.
2. What size dog should you bring home
If you live in a studio apartment you probably shouldn’t bring home a Great Dane. But don’t let a dog’s size fool you — it doesn’t equate to the amount of exercise that dog needs. Small dogs tend to be more hyper and need to be worn out. Big dogs also require exercise but tend to be a little lazier. They also need a lot of attention.
Apartment dwellers should also ask themselves if they’re willing to walk up and down flights of stairs six times a day to exercise their dog early in the morning and late at night. While some owners have taken to training pups to go on pee pads versus trips outside, this gives dogs the impression that it’s OK to go potty inside the home.
Likewise, if you live in rural area, ask yourself where the dog will spend most of its time. For example, a petite Pomeranian might be the groomer’s worst nightmare with dirt, bugs and stickers constantly tangled in its long, silky hair.
3. Will your dog need training?
Training your dog is a benefit to you, the neighbors and the greater dog community. Even if you send your dog to obedience training you will still need to dedicate time to working with him on a regular basis. Some dogs also need socialization training if they are shy or skittish.
If your dog is going to spend time in the yard, make sure there’s a secured fence so that she doesn’t pay your neighbors an uninvited visit. Keep your pup on a leash when required to do so.
4. Be prepared to pay for veterinary expenses
Did you know the cost of a pet over its lifetime can cost as much as $20,000? These costs range from veterinary visits for routine vaccines and teeth cleanings to unexpected illnesses and accidents. All the little things add up, too: Microchipping, grooming, leashes, dog bowls, food, flea medication, toys, doggie doors and a dog bed to snooze on. You might need to hire a dog walker if you work long hours or need to make accommodations for your dog when you travel.
5. Do you want a purebred dog?
Picking the right dog breed is easy if you do enough research. Again, take your lifestyle into consideration when picking a pet. If you have children, what animal will best suit your family’s needs? A little nosing around for example and you’ll learn that golden retrievers are gentle and ideal pets for people with children.
Here’s a look at the various types dog breeds, according to the American Kennel Club:
- The toy group including the darling King Charles spaniel, playful Chihuahua, Pomeranian, pug and poodle are great for small spaces. These dogs might be little but they are tough, hyper and playful.
- The herding group, mostly collies and sheepdogs, are great for farms and ideal for families. They are great companions and responsive to training. Terriers include miniature Schnauzer and the wildly popular Jack Russell terrier. They range from small to large but are generally energetic across the board. These dogs have strong personality that requires owners who are willing to put up with a little attitude.
- Dogs from the working group — boxers, Akitas, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and Great Danes — are ideal watchdogs. They are fast learners, intelligent and excellent companions but aren’t always ideal for families with children.
- There ain’t nothing like a hound dog. These include beagles, dachshunds and, well, hounds, all of which are known for their endless energy and hunting traits. Many are great family pets such as the popular, happy-go-lucky beagle. Beware: some of these hounds know how to give a good, loud howl.
- Sporting dogs (including famously beloved Weimaraners, Labradors and cocker spaniels) enjoy outings, particularly the type of activity where they can run and roam free. They need regular, vigorous exercise.
- Non-sporting is a diverse group that include the Dalmatian, French bulldog, poodle, bulldog and Chinese Shar-Pei. Known as friendly and sturdy dogs, they range in size as well as personality, coat and size.
If cost is an issue, a great alternative to buying a purebred is adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. The cost isn’t only much lower but you get the benefit of getting multiple breeds in one. There are thousands of dogs available in cities across the country.
Just the Beginning
While getting a dog is a big commitment, it’s also the beginning of a long and fulfilling relationship. If there is a specific breed you’re considering, a good breeder will honestly answer questions about the dog’s needs.
Reprint is courtesy of VPI Pet Insurance.