This post is not about “how to pick the perfect puppy” or “how to introduce your new puppy to the family dog”. This post will offer information to consider before you start looking – at the point you are only “thinking of getting a puppy.” All that other stuff comes later!
It never ceases to amaze me that people will spend weeks researching the next iPhone or go from dealership to dealership looking for the perfect car, but leave the decision of getting a new puppy to “OH MY GOD, THAT IS SO CUTE! I have to have it”. Here is a secret – EVERY PUPPY IS CUTE – EVEN THE UGLY ONES!!!!
Think about it, the dog you are looking at buying/adopting will be one of the longest relationships you may ever enter into outside marriage and a mortgage. Sadly, many dog relationships outlast both! So why not put the same thought (at minimum) you would in upgrading your phone or buying a car?
Let me make one thing clear, this post has nothing to do with “breeders” vs “adopt don’t shop”. Regardless of your preference the steps are the same.
Taking an Inventory of Yourself – Are You Ready?
If you take nothing from this post, please understand Step 1 is the most important step of all. You must first ask yourself if you are ready for what it takes to care for a puppy and keep that commitment for many, many years after the puppy is no longer a puppy. In short, are you ready! It sounds crazy to have to point this out, but this is the reason shelters are overrun. This cute fuzzy puppy could be a 10-15-year commitment; therefore, this self-inventory needs to be a look into the future as well. As your life changes, you need to make sure the dog has a place.
Here are some examples to start your conversation with yourself –
- Let’s say you are young professional working 50+ hours per week with a weekend social life. Do you even have the time?
- What is your living situation? Apartment, Home, Yard, no Yard, etc.
- What is your financial situation? Can you afford the dog for the long haul? Even shelter dogs have monthly ongoing costs that need to be considered.
- Or, you are looking at retiring in the next few years. Will this dog fit into your retirement life? Travel? etc.
- Or you are looking at starting a family. Is “now” the right time?
These are all questions that you need to ask yourself.
It’s OK if you STOP right here and decide maybe today is not the day and that “XYZ” needs to happen first. It’s OK!
What Do You Want in Your New Dog?
This is a very important step! Don’t skip it because it may sound a bit silly and write it down. This is your opportunity to get what you want.
Back to my car analogy. Would you go buy a car and have no idea what you wanted? No!! Would you simply go to the dealership not knowing what you are looking for? What dealership would you even go to?
Getting a new dog is very similar. Stop and think,
- What color do I want (light or dark or does it matter)?
- Do I want a small dog or a larger dog?
- Do I want a long-haired or short-haired dog or does it matter?
- How active do I want this dog?
- Do I want a dog that can go hiking, or running with me, or do I want more of a couch potato type dog?
- The list can go on and on.
What Breed of Dog Should I Consider?
Note, we are at TOPIC #3 and we are just starting to talk about dogs. Believe it or not, NOT EVERY dog breed is the same. There are hundreds of individual dog breeds and an infinite number of crosses. Each breed was developed over time for a specific task or purpose. Some breeds such as the Labrador Retrievers were bred for sport/hunt, while various other breeds such as Husky, Dobermans, Sheperds, Collies, Corgis were bred as working type breeds. Two very different types of dogs with different abilities and drawbacks. What makes them good at what they where bred to do, may make them a lousy dog for you in your situation.
Your goal here is to match your self-evaluation in Step #1 with what you want in a dog from Step #22. From here you begin your research to determine what breed best fits your criteria. Don’t waiver, don’t get sucked into the “OMG, it is so cute” mindset. Stay the course. If you don’t take the time now to research your breed, you may end up with a dog that does not suit your lifestyle.
Your dog’s breed, or breeds, will give you an indication of the type of activity and routine your dog will need, as well as any potential health or behavioral issues are that are common or predisposed in the breed. Some dog breeds are more popular than others, but that doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you.
Examples #1: You are an active outdoor family who loves to camp, hunt, hike, etc. You may have young children playing sports, such as baseball or soccer and you would like the family dog to be a part of these activities. A standard English Bulldog will be a TERRIBLE choice simply because of the dog’s physical limitation.
Example #2: You live in an apartment and work 40+ hours per week. Although you plan for a dog walker to come during the day, “Fido” will spend a significant part of his day in a crate. In this example, a Springer Spaniel, Border Collie, or Australian Shepard or any other working or sport breed, would be a disaster because these breeds need more activity than you can provide.
In short, the breed does matter.
Talk This Over With a Non-Vested Party
So what does this mean? Simply put, talk this over with someone who has zero vested interest that you trust, maybe a parent, close friend, work buddies, etc. Most importantly, LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY! We as humans tend to play to our own narrative, meaning that we will see everything in a way that “fits” with what we are looking for. Because of this, we often miss the obvious. Hopefully, your trusted person will be honest, and if they feel you may not be ready or bring up obstacles that you did not think of…LISTEN to them.
Choosing the right dog involves careful consideration of your capabilities, preferences, and the breed that best suits your lifestyle. By taking a personal inventory, identifying your preferences, and conducting thorough research, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision. Whether you decide to work with a reputable breeder or adopt from a rescue, remember that owning a dog is a long-term commitment that brings immense joy and companionship.
If you have any questions or comments or beginning your journey of looking for a new family member, please contact us.