Congratulations on your decision to adopt a dog! We all dream of finding the perfect pooch to share our lives with. Finding the perfect dog is about finding the dog that is a good match for your lifestyle and needs.
Here are some tips to prepare you for your quest and help you find “the one.” Before going to a shelter, sit down and make a list of the reasons you want a dog. This list should include a clear picture of what a “perfect” dog looks in your eyes: is he mellow, energetic, younger, older, friendly, reserved, playful? There is no “universally perfect” dog, because what constitutes a “good” temperament and personality can be different for each situation, depending on the person’s needs and desires.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Why am I getting a dog?
- To take to parks, socialize in outdoor cafes, hang out with my friends, run, compete in dog sports, or keep my other dog company? What type of home environment do I have? Some dogs can’t handle busy environments (such as doggie daycare or outdoor events), and some are better in homes without small children or other pets. There are dogs that will rather be in a quiet home with a consistent routine and some that thrive on busy urban environments.
- How much space do I have at home for my dog?
- Dogs need space both at home and individually. Think of your dog carrying a bubble space around them. For that cute and shy dog you find at the very back of the kennel, you will need more space. This dog might feel uncomfortable having strangers in close proximity. If you live in a high rise or the city, you might think about getting a dog that doesn’t mind his bubble space being invaded by stimuli (such as in the elevator). For excitable dogs, the closer the excitement the more intense the reaction.
- How much time can I dedicate each day to exercising my dog?
- While every dog needs exercise, some breeds require more than others. Most behavioral problems are developed when a dog has too much energy that has not been released properly through mental and physical stimulation. Some common outlets to release energy when left to the dog are chewing, barking, jumping, pulling and/or window and gate guarding. I always say, “A tired dog makes a happy owner.”
- How much money can I budget for grooming? Training? Daycare or walking?Sadly, many dogs are surrendered or returned when the owners find themselves unprepared for the financial responsibility of having a dog. Certain breeds require frequent
visits to the groomers and daily brushing. Grooming is not only important for dogs’ health, but also to prevent behavioral problems. Matting can cause discomfort, which can lead to aggression in some dogs. All owners should, at the very least, plan on attending a basic obedience class that teaches current positive training methods to learn how to communicate with their dog, teach basic cues, and properly handle problems. Lastly, if you have a full schedule and your job might not allow for you to walk your dog in the middle of the day, consider either daycare of dog walking to prevent behavioral problems while you are at work.