Bringing Home the Right Dog
It's so tempting when you see a puppy or dog that is up for adoption to bring them home because they are so stinkin' cute. So you bring the dog home and before you know it, your house is a mess and you're stressed out and you're second guessing your decision. But you can prevent this outcome. All it takes is a few minutes to ask yourself three questions and to think about how they will fit into your life. This will make the transition easier, allow the dog to thrive in their new home, and prevent dogs from being returned to shelters because of a bad match.
Do I Really Want a Puppy?
Who doesn't love puppies. They are undeniably adorable. Getting a puppy has a number of benefits such as being able to train and socialize them properly from a young age. But puppies take a lot of time and work. And not investing that time and energy into them from the moment they get home can lead to lots of messes and bad habits that can be difficult to train out of them once they are adults. So before you take that puppy home, make sure you can commit to daily training, lots of playtime and a potty training schedule. If you can, great! Bring that puppy home and enjoy that little fluff-ball. If you can't, you may want to consider adopting an adult dog.
How Active am I Really?
This can be a tough one to answer, but will make a huge difference over the length of your dogs life. You need to be brutally honest with yourself. Some people will adopt an active breed with the idea that it will encourage them to start exercising more. There are some people who stick with it, but unfortunately, many start off well and then don't continue for one reason or another. A tired dog is a good dog. I'm sure you have heard it before and is not just an empty saying. Active breeds require a lot of physical and mental exercise to get them tired. Are you an avid hiker or runner? Or can you commit to hiring a dog walker or daycare? Or can you set enough time aside to take them to a dog park or play a lot of fetch? If you know that you can commit to providing a lot of exercise, then go for it. But be honest, many of the dogs that I have trained have developed bad behaviors out of boredom or as a way to release excess energy. So do a quick internet search about the breed and make sure that their energy level matches up with what you can provide.
Have I Done Any Research?
This ties in with the previous question, but it is important to do a little research before committing to a dog. The American Kennel Club's website is a great place to learn about energy level, temperament, how easy they are to train, health risks and lots of other information. While these will all be generalizations, it can help you determine if they are a good fit for your home. For example, if someone has allergies, you can avoid dogs that may trigger them. Or if you want a dog that is going to snuggle with you on the couch, then you will want to avoid dogs that are likely to have a strong independent streak. You should also do a little research on the individual dog. If you are getting a dog from a rescue, ask the staff about how the dog behaves, if they know why the dog was surrendered, and have they seen the dog interact with other dogs, cats, children, wheelchairs, or whatever they are likely to experience at your home. If you are getting a puppy from a breeder, ask about the parents and ask to meet them if possible. Good breeders will be happy to answer these questions as they want to make sure that every dog is going to the right home.
I have seen many dogs that come into training in part because they were not the right fit for their owners. Many more are simply returned or re-homed. By taking the time to ask these questions and make sure that the dog will be a good fit for your home, you have ensure a positive, long lasting relationship between you and your new dog.