Are You Ready to Get a New Dog?
Picking the right dog for you should take as much thought as finding the right life partner.
How old are you? Ok, add 12-16 years onto your age and this is approximately how long you should have your new dog before he dies. This is a huge chunk of our lives, yet so many of us adopt or buy a new dog spontaneously, with little thought and without doing the research. We want a dog for our children. We buy a puppy at the pet store because it looks cute and was begging us to take it home. When picking a puppy, we decide on a particular one because it immediately jumped in our lap and actually chose us. The family decides to go to shelter to save a dog. While the intentions may be good, most times this is the wrong way to pick your new companion.
Before you pick your next dog, consider where you are in your life. If you always had German Shepherds growing up, are you still that same person? Are you getting too old to go out for long walks and hikes everyday? Are you still strong and agile enough to control a larger high-energy dog? Do you have the right property and set up (as you may have had in the past)? Do you have the time to do the training? Are you home enough to take a new puppy out every 2-3 hours for potty breaks? Perhaps changing breeds is the best option for a successful new relationship.
Recently I had a new client that called me because she was at her wits end with her new Boxer puppy. Sarah was a mother with 2 toddlers. Her husband went out and bought an 8-week-old Boxer puppy because he wanted the kids to grow up with a dog. Unfortunately the husband worked at least 10 hours each day so Sarah was left alone with not only the two kids, but also a new rambunctious puppy. Sarah is not really a dog person and did not grow up with dogs. She really resented the fact that now she was stuck in this position of having to raise the puppy. To make matters worse, the kids didn’t like the puppy and were actually scared of it. The boxer was constantly mouthing them and jumping on them. So Sarah was leaving the puppy locked in the crate most of the day. She would also leave it outside alone where it would constantly whine and bark at the door. While the right training and exercise would greatly help her, she just didn’t have the time or the desire to fix this. This is a clear example of the wrong puppy in the wrong home.
Unfortunately there are many cases like this that I see every year and many of these dogs are rehomed or end up in shelters.
Adopting a dog from the shelter can also be a bit tricky and you need to make sure you have assessed the dog correctly. Getting an independent professional evaluation of the potential dog (other than the people at the shelter) can be very helpful in making the right choice. Remember that many dogs end up at shelters because they were neglected and not wanted any more. Many have had little, if any, training. Some also have behavioral issues that may not be easily recognized until they are in their new homes and it is too late. So getting as much information before hand about their past is very important. Always try to interview the dog’s past owners. This way you may save yourself and the dog a lot of heartache.
So next time you decide to get a new dog, consider your existing life style. Make sure you are picking the right breed for your existing way of life. Is everyone in your family ready for
a new dog? Do they understand the commitment it takes to train and raise a puppy? Finally, when you have decided on a breed or you want to adopt, make sure you take the time to evaluate the prospect correctly and consider taking a dog professional with you to help you make the right decision.