Updated: Jan 8, 2019
You've made the amazing decision to get a dog or maybe you're considering one from a shelter, which is amazing! Rescue organizations and shelters are filled to the brim with dogs just waiting to find their fur-ever home. Or perhaps you are looking for a specific breed to perform a specific task and you've found a responsible breeder you trust. Whichever your decision it may be, I put together 5 things to consider when choosing a dog, which is such an exciting time for so many! Because you are bound to fall in love, It is important to do some research before heading to the shelter, breeder, or an adoption event to make sure you're picking a good match and leading with your head not just your heart!
I put this at the top of the list because I think it is so important to find a dog suitable for you and your families lifestyle. Being honest in this will provide you with the best possible match and lead to less stress for everyone involved. Are you super active and need a dog who can keep up? Or do you prefer to snuggle on the couch with a good book and enjoy the company of a furry friend by your side? Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle and enjoy a little bit of both. Whichever it may be, it is important to research breeds and be sure to ask the foster or breeder any questions about the dog's lifestyle.
#2. Breeder Vs. Rescue
This can be such a heated topic in dog communities but I definitely don't think it has to be! I used to push only "adopt don't shop" and never understood why anyone would go to a breeder. All until I chose to meet some amazing breeders and needed a specific dog for a specific reason. In our home, we have 3 rescues whom we fostered and then kept, and we also have one from a breeder! They all bring us the same amount of joy, love, and happiness! I will say from personal experience and in our home, that overall, our mixed breeds have been behaviorally easier in all aspects. Now that doesn't go to say Border Collies won't forever be our favorite breed and some breeds are hard to come across in rescue. If you have a set breed in mind but would like to rescue, be sure to check out petfinder.com as they do have purebreds on occasion! If you do go the breeder route be sure to interview local breeders and ask about all health testing done. Ask to see their facilities and be sure to meet mom and dad. At the end of the day make the decision that's best for you and your family!
#3. Sociability with other people
When looking at potential dogs it's important to ask to take the dog to a quiet area and get to know them better. Sometimes in high-stress situations like shelters, dogs behavior is simply a product of their environment. If the dog is in a foster home environment they usually spend adequate time with the dogs and can help explain their personality and behaviors. If you are seeking puppies from breeders it's crucial to ask to meet mom and dad to ensure they are social with people. If a dog is really having a hard time with social skills it is important to take on only what you can handle. If you have time, trainers and resources these dogs can make great pets! Our Cowboy came from an extreme case and has made drastic improvements in two years time but we definitely experienced some challenges along the way.
#4. Sociability with other dogs/animals
This is especially important if you have a current pet or other dogs in your home! Even consider this if you live in a busy neighborhood and the pup can encounter other dogs often and be OK. Again with the right training, time and resources this can be overcome but for the first time dog owners, this is important to note. I always think a "pack walk" is a great test done introducing new dogs. Always do this in neutral territory such as a park. With both dogs parallel to each other take note what happens. Do the dogs get wiggly and excited? Do they bow in play pose and note overall if their body language shows they could be friends. Or maybe the dogs show some interest in each other but mostly just enjoy the walk. Lastly, if the dog shows any reactivity, lifts the lip, or growls it may mean they aren't super comfortable with other dogs and some honest thinking must take place. If you are head over heels try this with a trainer and seek other advice! If you're looking for a very social doggo keep looking for the right fit.
A super important factor when picking out your future family member is their health! Does the dog have a good health record and if not are you able to handle it? Again it's good, to be honest with yourself and its ok if you need to pass up a dog with a lot of medical issues. If you are willing to take on a special needs pet or one with medical issues go for it, they make just as wonderful pets! Always talk with your vet about the finances that go into having a dog and make a plan for continued care.
That perfect dog for you is out there and hopefully these tips will get you off to a great start when picking out your future best friend!