Choosing the right dog

There are many aspects to consider when deciding what type of dog to add to your family. It’s easy to fall in love with an adorable puppy or the beautifully groomed dog seen on television, but before you get carried away with a dog’s looks, it is very important to research temperament, training and grooming requirements.

Consider why you want a dog. Are you wanting simply a companion, or do you want a watch dog? Are you wanting running buddy or a companion who will be happy to spend hours on the sofa binge-watching your favorite movies? Do you want a dog who is comfortable in lots of different environments that can go with the family to ball games, the beach, and the park? You should also make an honest assessment of how much money and time you have to devote to a dog. If you are away at work most of the day, an energetic working breed that requires lots of exercise may not be a good fit. Likewise, if you know your family doesn’t have the time or the budget for regular brushing and haircuts, a breed that requires regular grooming such as a Maltese or a poodle is probably not the best choice.

Age of the dog is another important characteristic to consider. Puppies are very cute, but they are a lot of work. There is a considerable time requirement for training and socializing a puppy. There may also be lots of lost sleep when house training a puppy. There is much to be said for adopting an adult dog who is already house trained and past the destructive “chew everything in sight” teething stage. Sometimes people are worried that an adult dog won’t bond as strongly with their family if they do not raise them from a puppy, but this is rarely an issue.

Information about different breeds of dogs can be found on the American Kennel Club’s web site at akc.org. When looking at dogs through shelters or rescue groups, talk to the people who have been caring for the dog. Reputable groups will give a honest assessment of the dog’s known behavior and preferences as it is everyone’s best interest to ensure that a potential home is a good fit. If you have your heart set on a purebred dog, there are many breed specific rescue groups in our area.