Many of the conversations I have at the Pet Hotel are around the choices available for choosing a new dog. This is the first in a series of articles aimed at sharing some of the insight learned from the combined 200+ years of pet care from everyone here at the Dog Hotel. Today we’ll discuss the first steps in choosing a puppy.
Choosing your new furry family member should begin long before you find yourself looking into the eyes of a litter of puppies.
Ideally it all begins with questions and answers. Whenever we are faced with a very loving and well intentioned family who just somehow got it wrong, it is almost always because a question was missed. Life happens and things change, but the more thorough you can be with the questions you ask yourself now, then the less likely you’ll find yourself in the heartbreaking position of having to re-home. Re-homing is a whole other topic, right now we’ll focus on puppies.
The first step is to think about your life style. Every existing and potential future member of the family should be considered and if possible involved when establishing your research questions. This may be the first set of little feet pitter pattering around the house, but if having children is something you may do one day, then you need to allow for the possible changing family dynamic over the years when choosing and raising your dog. You may have had dogs all your life and have had generations of great experiences of a certain breed, but that was then this is now. Think of your life now and over the next 15 years. Your heart may immediately desire another Irish Setter, but that may not be the best choice for your retirement. It still could be, but take the time to ask the questions and give yourself honest answers.
- Do you have kids or is it just adults in your household? If you often entertain, don’t forget to consider guests.
- Is there already other furry family to consider ? If so think of their supposed answers to some of the questions?
- Do you have a house with a fenced yard, or do you live in an apartment?
- What are your past times, are they activities that your dog could do with you ? They don’t have to be, but if you jog and want your dog to do that with you, it will affect your choices.
- How truly active are you ? All dogs require activity, but the extent varies greatly.
- If planning on changing your lifestyle and your future dog is a planned part of that change – make sure you’re ready. If introspection confirms that you really do desire a more sedentary lifestyle – choose the appropriate breed.
- Don’t forget grooming, how often and how long are you willing to brush your friend ? Are you willing to maintain regular grooming appointments for your pet?
- What arrangements will you make when travel with your pet is not possible? Mom may have an opinion on who they’d be willing to dog sit. Pet Vacations don’t have to be the boarding nightmares of years gone by, but understand the needs and implications of each pet first if you’ll need to consider this at some point. We all need a plan “B”.
- Financially, it is a comittment. Don’t be scared by horror stories of rising Vet bills. It doesn’t have to be that bad, but do your research and understand the definate cost of pet parenting as well as the potential costs of the particular type you are thinking of.
- Time – how much time will you or your combined family have to devote to your pet ? The comdedian Ron White has a stand up that involves him talking with a friend of his who is bragging about how smart his dog is. During the routine he shares the fact that he doesn’t want a dog smarter than him. It’s obviously very entertaining when he tells it, but there is a kernel of insight there. We tend to perceive dogs who are easier to train as being much smarter. In reality I believe they are all equally capable of a high “doggy IQ”, but certain breeds want to “work” or be entertained more. There is a link between the working breeds, ability to train and the time required to keep them mentally entertained.
Breed characteristics are just generalities and your furry family member will definately become a combination of nurture as well as nature, but start by understanding those pre-dispositions. Internet and books are great starting places but finish by going out and meeting dogs and their parents. Ask questions and pay attention to all ages. We love our Great Dane Maggie beyond anything. We will likely always have Danes (as well as others), but she didn’t have much in common with all the Danes we met while doing our research until at least 4 years of age. We have many an entertaining anecdote about those first 4 years, but we were in a position to “deal” with it, some may not be. Maggie did grow into and has become the description of Regal and aware of her size……most of the time.
There are dogs out there for every lifestyle. In fact they are just waiting for you to find and welcome into your family.
I’d like to leave you with a final thought: Though this article may help you find a great dog, all dogs require training. Remember, your dog wants to please you and he/she needs a calm leader. Every dog, just like human children, needs to know their do’s and their don’ts. Classes can be a great way for you to learn or be reminded on how to train your dog, but it doesn’t end there. You’ll need to be consistent and remember no children are ever “finished”, its a lifelong comittment to learning and reminding. You will need to be a constant source of guidance as well as love and nurturing. In return you will enjoy one of the most enduring and unconditional relationships there is.
Good Luck and enjoy meeting all of our wonderful canine friends out there !
The Royal Pets Hotel and Spa is located just north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario. Offering boarding, grooming, doggie daycare and training (both canine residential training and class based dog training) for over 30 years.