When choosing a dog for your family, it can be tempting to head off to the pet store and pick the cutest, most playful puppy. That can certainly work out, but in most cases it pays to ask yourself a few questions first.
Adult or puppy? Do you have the time and patience required to train a new puppy? Aside from potting training, puppies should be taught correct socialization. They might also be prone to certain behaviors, like chewing household objects, that you will have to correct. On the other hand, a well trained adult dog can join your household with much fewer adjustment pains for everyone.
Of course, some adult dogs do exhibit maladaptive behaviors as well. Ask yourself whether you have the time to devote to helping your new pet overcome them.
What about breed? When Game of Thrones first premiered, fans rushed out to obtain wolf hybrid puppies due to how beautiful and impressive the dogs can be. Unfortunately, many of those puppies became shelter dogs later, because owners could not provide for their intense needs. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, make sure you research their behavior and needs before making the commitment.
On the other hand, mixed breed dogs are perfectly loving and loyal companions. And in some cases they can actually be healthier, because breeding practices of pure breeds will sometimes encourages the proliferation of genetic health problems.
What size and activity level fits your lifestyle? Some people are impressed by a large, stately canine… But that dog also needs plenty of room! If you rent, your landlord might impose a limit on pet size, so make sure you aren’t adopting a puppy who will outgrow that limit. If you opt for a very active dog, you will need room for him to exercise and dedicated time for outings. A very active dog with no outlet can quickly become a misbehaving dog.
Of course, larger dogs also eat more. Consider the cost of pet food and its impact on your budget.
Can you handle the grooming? A dog with long fur will need more grooming than a short-haired variety. Are you ready to deal with fur shedding all over your home?
Long, flopping ears are more prone to infection and need more careful cleaning. And some dog breeds are more prone to drooling than others. How do you feel about that?
How will your kids interact with the dog? Finally, if you have kids, consider how they will interact with your new pet (and vice versa). Smaller dogs are more prone to injury and might not make the ideal pet for very young, rambunctious children. The kids, too, could be injured if your new pet is particularly nervous with active children or has previously developed aggressive behaviors.
Bring your new pet to see us. After choosing a dog for your family, our office should be your first stop. Let’s schedule an appointment for an overall health assessment. We can answer your training questions, help you choose an appropriate food, and discuss preventive care such as vaccines and worming strategies.