So, you're thinking about getting a dog. Whether you're adopting a pet, rescuing one or wanting to bring home a puppy from a breeder, there are a few things to consider before you jump into it. Yes, it's tempting to throw caution to the wind and get the latest designer breed or a dog you've always thought would be cool to have, but, in fairness to the animal and yourself, put some thought into it first.
Pets, like children, are not something you go into lightly, and responsible pet owners don't discard pets or trundle them off to the pound because they no longer fit their lifestyle. With that in mind, let's explore the realities of pet ownership and finding a good fit for you.
Sit yourself down and ask yourself how much time you can realistically devote to your new family member. Will you have time to exercise him or her? What kind of hours do you keep? Do you travel a lot? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors or indoors? Are you looking for a constant companion and travel buddy or just a friendly face to come home to whenever you make it there? Can you afford a pet and its upkeep (food, tags, shots, vet visits, pest infestations, etc.)?
Do you have small children or are there other pets in the house to consider? What is the average temperature in your area? Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you have a yard? Are you looking for protection? All of these are important questions to ask yourself, and the answers will dictate the breed of dog that best suits you.
Your particular lifestyle should guide you in your choice of dogs. If you're super active and always on the go, it would behoove you to select a breed that compliments your energy levels and activities. For instance, dogs like Jack Russell Terriers are known for their boundless energy and require a fair amount of exercise.
Another breed that seems to be indefatigable are Queensland Healers. These dogs, like Jack Russells, can get into all sorts of mischief if not kept busy, though. As a matter of fact, if Heelers aren't given a job to perform, they can be quite the handful, and not always in a fun/good way. Highly energetic dogs can become extremely destructive when bored or run off.
Know this before you bring one home — especially if you're a couch potato or not home a lot. If your activity levels are lower or you're housebound, a Labrador Retriever would make an excellent pet, as long as you have a yard. They're also great with kids, as are Cocker Spaniels.
Another factor to add into the consideration mix is the type of environment you will be able to provide for your new pet. Obviously, larger breeds of dogs need more room to romp. If you live in an apartment, condo or town home with no real yard of your own, a smaller breed of dog might be a better choice. But with smaller breeds usually comes increased yipping.
If the sound of constant high-pitched barking is going to grate on your nerves, you might want to think about getting a French Bulldog. They are perfect for small spaces, require very little exercise and seldom bark. The flip side to this breed is they often have health issues such as allergies and do not tolerate heat at all. They also yearn for companionship, as they were bred to be lap dogs.
Puppies or Adult Dogs
With so many dogs in need of a good home, adopting an adult dog is a selfless act of kindness that can benefit both you and the animal. Adult dogs are a far better option for people who do not have the time to care for and train a new puppy. While the appeal of puppies and all their adorable cuteness is obvious, they require an awful lot of your time. Adult dogs who are adopted or taken out of less-than-ideal situations are usually extremely grateful and eager to please.
More and more facilities are taking the time to properly match up potential owners and animals so that the return rates are minimized. They will be honest with you about any destructive behavior or neuroses, the animal's level of house training and any personality traits you should be aware of. With a puppy, you will obviously be working with a blank slate but, if you don't train them — well, let's put it this way: it's not the animal's fault.
Unlike mutts, pure bred dogs can be extremely high maintenance when it comes to medical-related issues. Whatever breed you're interested in, make sure and do your homework in connection to their specific health needs. You can do this by visiting any of the AKC websites in connection to the particular breed you're considering. These sites are known for being very candid when it comes to the responsibilities you will encounter when owning a pure bred.
If you're set on a pedigreed pup, research breeders thoroughly before purchasing an animal from them. If they are a reputible breeder, they will want to investigate you as well. Do not take offense to this. They just want what's best for the animal. Puppy mills, on the other hand, just want your money and aren't really interested in the type of home you'll be providing.
What it boils down to is be responsible in your choices before you bring a new pet into your life. The best way to do that is by doing your homework. This allows you to go into a situation with your eyes open and fully aware of what you're getting yourself into. That way there is a far better chance that your new friend will find a forever home instead of just another stop along the way to sadness, depression and neglect that often ends in being put down. With a good fit, you and your dog should have years of happiness in store for both of you.