Are you ready to bring home the perfect new puppy to be your running buddy every morning? What about a snuggly senior dog to cuddle up with on the couch every evening? Do you want to find that great match, who can play well with your children in the yard? If it’s time for you to pick out a new furry member for your family, then there are a few things you need to think about to make sure you choose the perfect dog for you!
Am I Really Ready?
First of all, please make sure you are ready for the responsibility of a new dog! Puppies are a lot of work, but even older dogs need daily attention and exercise. Don’t get a puppy just because Christmas is coming up if you are not ready to spend the time needed training your new fur baby.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
A rescue dog is always the right choice. Please look at your local shelters and rescue groups for the perfect dog, because he or she WILL be there! Don’t support puppy mills by purchasing a dog from a pet store or backyard breeder. Read more about why you should adopt a shelter dog here.
Living Space and Schedule
The next thing you should consider before picking out the right dog for you is your living situation and schedule. Do you live in a house with a fenced yard? Is the yard big enough to run around in or just a small patio space? Do you live in a small apartment? Do you work 10 hours a day 6 days a week?
You will want to consider if there is room in your house for a larger dog, dog bed and large kennel (if you decide to crate train) before adopting a large dog. Read more about crate training here and here. If you have a smaller living space, then consider a smaller dog!
You will also want to make sure that you have time to walk your dog at least twice a day, especially if you do not have a fenced yard or a large yard. Even with a large fenced yard, you should make time to walk your dog, though! Read more here about why walking your dog is important.
Kids and Current Pets
Next, think about the age and size of your children when you are starting the search for your new pet. If you have very young, small children think about their ability to play in the backyard with each dog you consider. Also, think about an older child’s ability to help you with feeding and walking the dog you choose. The size of each new dog you are considering will play into this, but so will their natural energy level, age and temperament, which I will discuss more below.
If you already have dogs or cats at home, you will want to make sure they can get along with your new family member. You should be able to set up a play date outside of your home before making a final decision to make sure that they can get along. If your current dog does not get along with your new dog immediately, that does not mean it will not work out. Learn how to eliminate antisocial behaviors in dogs here. Sometimes just a little time and calm intervention from you can help dogs work out any initial problems. Think about bringing along a friend with a lot of dog experience, or asking someone from the shelter or rescue group to help you with an introduction.
Energy Level, Age and Lifestyle
When you are looking around at a shelter or rescue group for your perfect new family member, watch for each dog’s energy level and age to match with your lifestyle. If you want a running buddy, then you probably don’t want to pick out a dog over 8 or so, or a little dog with short legs. You will want to look for a young dog with a good amount of energy. However, if you work long hours and want to come home from work, take your dog for a walk, and settle in for a quiet night, then think about choosing an older dog, or a lower energy dog.
Ask people who know each dog what kind of activities she likes so you can really get a good idea about how she will fit in with your lifestyle.
Especially if you are not picking out a puppy, you will want to get a good read on your new dog’s temperament. Puppies have the ability to be trained more easily than older dogs, but older dogs can definitely learn. Make sure the dog you’re considering bringing home isn’t displaying negative body language, growling, or cowering in a corner, especially if you have children or other pets at home. Learn more about dogs and body language here. These dogs may, in fact, make great pets for the right home, but will require more training and attention and maybe a home with no other pets or children. Please make sure you get a very good read on your dog before bringing him home!
Health and Special Needs
A final thing you will want to consider is your new dog’s health and any special needs. If you are considering adopting a dog who is heartworm positive, for example, then you need to know that there will be initial medical expenses. If you are adopting a dog with three legs, there may be more than normal hip and joint pain down the road. That does not mean that dogs with special needs do not make wonderful, loving pets-it’s just something that you should consider before make a life-long commitment to any animal!
Adopting a new family member is a great decision if you are ready for the responsibility. If you do decide to adopt a new pet, read more about the supplies you will need here, as well as what Hollywood Feed does to help new pet owners!