Getting a new dog is a HUGE commitment, since he will become a part of your life style–for the next 15 plus years possibly! So how do you know you or your family is ready for a new dog? Here are some questions to ask yourself, and share with family and friends. We think they will help lead you to a decision, and help build a time line for you in finding your new best friend.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how chaotic is my life/family?
Okay, everyone’s life is as diverse and individual as the clouds in the sky. But it boils down to how you are coping with it TODAY. Are you frequently overwhelmed? A sink full of dishes, laundry piled, too much stuff and nowhere to sit, kids half dressed and being potty trained, if you step on a Lego in the dark one more time you might lose it….We’ve ALL been overwhelmed. But imagine yourself at 10, because it is going to happen, and stick a puppy on top of it who doesn’t quite know the house rules yet. The second you turn your back he may be peeing, pooping, chewing, chasing, biting UNTIL YOU TEACH HIM otherwise. So sit back and think about that. No dog is perfect, and they all need to adjust and be taught the house rules, even senior rescue dogs. Do you have the time and energy to add that on top of everything else?
2. Do I foresee any huge life changes?
Grandma is coming to live with us, we are expecting a baby, we will be moving in the next couple months, I might have to start travelling a lot for work. All excellent reasons to wait. You will have your dog for the next decade, it’s not fair for him to have to adjust to huge life changes that you knew were coming. Life’s unforeseen curve balls are enough.
3. Am I a dog person? If so, what type?
Dogs demand involvement, structure and reactivity from you, no matter what the breed. We have worked with many naturally passive people with naturally assertive dogs and BOTH must make huge strides to come to good lines of communication. On the other hand, getting the RIGHT dog, if you are ready, can be a great way to self-help. If you are the type of person who struggles with confrontation, or gets stressed by a lot of activity, a dog might NOT be for you–there are super cool cat breeds that have doggy personalities, but will still be less hands on than a dog in the training department, and be far less demanding. If you are still thinking about getting a dog there are many dog breeds that tend to do better with a softer, more sensitive hand, or are more independent. Poodles, Chinese Cresteds, and Great Pyrenees come to mind–and there are many others. So do your research, and visit breeders to find the right fit, but going to the shelter today and picking the first cute puppy you see may not be a good idea for you–even if it LOOKS like a certain breed.
4. Is everyone in my household on the same page?
Consistence in rules, structure and consequences is so important to fast training, and having fewer mistakes and accidents. But this takes commitment form EVERYONE. Especially if you are just giving in to your roommate, husband, wife, or kids who keep begging for a dog. Everyone needs to start off, and stay on the same page and all the adults in the family need to be ‘into’ the idea. So now let’s assume everyone in the family is in agreement about getting a dog. Yay! But one partner wants a balls to the walls Belgian Malanios to do competition training, and the other is more the speed of a retired racing Greyhound(which is surprisingly about the speed the couch goes). This is where your relationship gets put to the test in your ability to compromise….a great in the middle breed that can be a great team player with an off switch is the Toller, of course, but we are totally biased haha.
5. What do I want, really?
What is your daydream relationship with your future dog? What activities do you think you’ll enjoy doing with him? Ideal daily routine? How long are you willing to take in housebreaking and training to get there? Perfection is hard to come by, and you are setting yourself and your dog up for failure by trying to fit him into a pre-made box, especially a rescue dog or one that had a tough start. BUT having expectations and thinking of these things will go a long way in helping you decide if your ideals are realistic, in addition to helping you choose a breed or age of dog to buy or adopt.
So as you go forward on your journey into dog ownership the next step is where to get a dog, and what breed is a good fit. Keep in mind that adult and senior dogs can bond just as strongly with you, and can be much BETTER immediate fit than a puppy–who grows into his personality. And of course, remember that just because a dog is a certain breed doesn’t necessarily mean he will have attributes you are looking for–if you choose not to adopt, choose a quality breeder and puppy from titled and health tested parents! These are a few things we will hit on with our companion article about choosing a dog, coming soon. And of course don’t hesitate to leave questions or topics you’d like us to write about!