If there is one thing I hear a lot from owners is “I didn’t know what I was getting into!”
There are several wonderful dog breeds out there; but some breeds require more work than others. A German Shepherd has different mental and physical requirements than a Pug. It’s wonderful that there is a breed of dog that you admire but you have to ask yourself if that dog breed fits your lifestyle or if you can provide the dog with everything that it requires. Another statement I hear a lot is “Our family had one when I was a child, I thought I could handle it.” Many owners forget that when they were children, they weren’t tasked with caring for the dog.
Picking the right breed can be difficult. There are many breeds out there that I love (for instance, Australian Shepherds), but I won’t get them because I know that I will not provide them with the physical and mental stimulation that they require. When you’re ready to get a dog, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
1.) What breed do I like?
It’s okay to want to pick a breed that you admire. Personally, I don’t like pugs. I would never get a pug for myself. Of course, until the last few years, I didn’t like poodles, yet I own a wonderful toy poodle and I have come to really love that breed. Pick a dog you will like! However…
2.) What do I really know about the breeds I’m choosing from?
What are the exercise requirements? What are the grooming requirements? How big will the dog get (or how small will it stay)? What health issues is the breed prone to? Is the breed known for being good with families? Is the breed a working breed? These are all important questions to ask to help you determine if a breed is a good fit for you. There is a wealth of information about every possible dog breed available to you. Countless books, Facebook pages, web sites and magazines are dedicated to dog breeds. Many of these sources are operated and maintained by fans of a particular breed. Thoroughly research each breed, speak to a certified dog trainer, and your veterinarian before making a decision. And finally, keep in mind…
3.) Is now the right time to get a dog?
This is perhaps the most important question of all! Many owners I’ve encountered simply weren’t ready for the additional burden of a dog. If you’re considering getting a puppy, you need to be prepared for vaccines, preventatives, deworming, and possibly spaying or neutering. You need to take into account the cost of food, preventatives, gear, housing/crating, veterinary care, and finally time. Puppies in particular take a lot of time! Have a newborn or a new family member coming into the picture? Now may not be the best time for a new dog. Will any current pets be affected by the addition of a new dog? Take your time and think about every aspect of bringing in a new dog.
And one last thing, when you do decide that it’s time to add a dog to your family, please consider adopting a pet, either from a local shelter or a dedicated rescue group. There are thousands of great dogs out there who need homes! If you are considering getting a dog and have questions, please feel free to contact me.
-Ben the Dog Trainer