Choosing the Right Dog or Puppy
Consider Your Lifestyle
When choosing a dog to become part of your life, it is important to take a good look at your own lifestyle. Do you live alone? Do you spend much time at home? Do you live in an apartment or single family home? Do you have a fenced yard? Are you an active person? Do you have children? These are all questions you need to consider when choosing a dog to adopt. The impulse to adopt the adorable puppy is a strong one, but will you have the time to train, socialize and exercise the puppy? Do you have the financial resources to pay for all of the puppy care – exams, shots, neutering or spaying? Will your home situation accommodate this puppy when s/he grows up? A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children are also important factors in making the right decision.
Learn About Different Breeds and Mixes
So how do you know what kind of dog is right for you? Getting educated with the right information is the key. Learn about various breeds (the American Kennel Club is a great reference), their characteristics and personality traits, visit with animals at the Shelter, and speak with a veterinarian or the Shelter staff for guidance.
Dogs are either purebreds or mixed breeds. Purebreds were born of parents who were the same breed, while mixed breeds were born of parents who were different breeds. Because purebred dogs and their members are from the same breed, they typically conform to a ‘breed standard’. So, if you adopt a purebred puppy, you can generally determine how big s/he will get and what general physical and behavioral characteristics s/he will have.
Mixed breed dogs are simply combinations of two or more different breeds. So, if you can identify the breeds of your puppy, you have a good chance of predicting size, appearance and temperament.
Mixed breeds offer several other advantages. First, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog that is likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a totally unique companion!
Visit with Shelter Animals
This is important! While you are at the Shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Many times, a dog’s true personality won’t show until s/he is away from other animals and the Shelter environment. So, if you walk past a kennel with a dog that is not looking for your attention, don’t dismiss him/her just yet. This loving canine may just be scared or lonely.
When visiting with Shelter dogs, you need to ask many questions. How old is the dog? Puppies and young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
How shy or assertive is the dog? Although an active, energetic dog might catch your eye, a more quiet or reserved dog might be easier to live with and care for.
How good is the animal with children? Learning about a dog’s past from the Shelter staff can be helpful, but past information is not always available. In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise, is a dog who will probably do well in a home with children.
Choose a Pal for Life
Every dog in the Shelter can provide you with endless love and companionship, and every dog deserves a lifelong, loving home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle than others. That is why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you are choosing your new best friend, who will be with you for many years. Select the right dog and you and your new companion will enjoy those years to the fullest.