Which dog is right for you?
The team at K9Connectables are delighted to launch our new blog series!
Being 100% committed dog lovers we want to spread the good word about the benefits of dog ownership and have teamed up with professional dog trainers and behavior experts to bring you tips and tricks to get the most out of your relationship with your dog!
Along with professional advice the blog series mirrors our own journey through dog ownership from the very beginning all the way through the delightful trials and tribulations every dog owner faces. We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed creating it and would love to hear your feedback and thoughts.
Our first post comes from a highly qualified behavior expert and chairman of the Association INTODogs Mr Andrew Hale. Andrew talks about one of the most important aspects for people thinking about getting a dog and that is "What type of dog is right for me!?"
We hope you enjoy...
Sandy and the K9Connectables crew!
What type of dog is right for you?
So, you are going to get a dog. Exciting right!? Of course it is, but did you know that most people put more thought into buying a car than into getting a dog? People think about their budget, factoring in future costs like insurance and maintenance, the size of the engine and making sure the model is fit for their purpose etc. Dogs are cute, and fluffy and look adorable in the photos, and this can lead many to have an impulse to get them, but there are lots of considerations to be made before committing to a new furry friend, too.
They say you can choose your friends but not your family, and this is very true from a dog’s perspective. WE get a choice, the dog doesn’t so always bear that in mind. Spending time to get the right dog for you and your lifestyle will help prevent the heartache of giving dogs up for adoption. A common reason for dogs going into rescue is the owners cannot cope with them, were unprepared for what having a puppy or adolescent dog means, or the breed was simply unsuitable for their lifestyle.
Puppy or rescue? I would urge everyone to consider a rescue dog. There is a myth that by getting a rescue dog you don’t know what you are getting. This isn’t true if you get the dog from a reputable source. Using the car analogy again: If you get the car from ‘Dodgy Joe’ or an ad in the paper, then you might be looking for trouble, but if you go to a reputable dealer who has done all the checks and provides good after-support then you know what you are getting. Same with dogs. Get the dog from the free ads or from poorly run rescues then you pay your money and you take your chance. Go to a reputable rescue and the dogs will have been assessed properly and they will be keen to match the right dog to the right home.
If you do consider getting a puppy you should know it is NOT a blank sheet for you to work on. Genetics and early influences up to adoption are so important. If you do consider a puppy, make sure it is from a reputable breeder, not from the ads in the paper or from a pet store. Getting a puppy means hard work and lots of commitment. No puppy I have ever known was ‘easy’. This young, innocent life with so much potential is looking to you to fulfill that – that is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly. If you do get a puppy make sure you read other blog posts on preparing for puppy and getting those crucial first few months right.
Other points to consider before getting a dog:
1. Your lifestyle. How much time can you give the dog to training, walking etc. How much time home alone will the dog be expected to have. I personally do not think it is fair for a dog to be without company for more than 4 hours on an average day, so think about ‘childcare’ arrangements. Plan a day as though you have the dog. Factor in walks (how long will depend on breed- do your research!), time for training, social time, home alone time etc. Make sure this seems do-able. A dog needs your time so make sure you can give it.
2. Your finances. Dogs are expensive! I did a quick tally of expenses for one of my dogs – good quality food, insurance (really important!! Do NOT skip on insurance), general vet checks, flea and worm treatments, immunisation, etc. It came in at around £1400 ($1800). Breed is again important here; think about how much they are likely to eat, if they will need regular professional grooming (mine don’t), if they are prone to certain medical issues that may need on-going support, etc.
3. Your home and area. Is your home suited to a dog? Do you have a garden; it’s not essential but is a real bonus. If you live on the 10th floor flat and the lifts are down would the breed manage 10 flights of stairs? What are the dog laws in your area/country. Will this impact on the needs of your dog? What good dog walks/play areas are there local to you? Are there facilities to provide the breed with its exercise and stimulation needs? There I go with the breed thing again – but breed is EVERYTHING so think hard and do your research.
4. The BREED! Had to mention it again because it is so important. Dogs have been bred for generations to perform certain tasks, and to have inherent qualities needed to do the jobs required. We have to be mindful of these genetic needs or else we risk failing the dog on a very fundamental level. If you live a sedate lifestyle then any of the high drive, high energy dogs should be off the agenda. If you want a jogging companion, plan to work them or do lots of doggy sports then go for it! Don’t be swayed by looks. Your head must be used first before picking your dog. Then, when you have an idea of the size, breed and temperament you want totally let your heart lead the way!
The most important question to ask is: Why do I want a dog? Think REALLY hard about this. If it is because they look cute, they are trendy, your friend has one or you saw one on Facebook, then I urge you to think again. If, however, you want a new member of the family who you will take your commitments to seriously and build a great reciprocal relationship with, then go for it. If you recognize from the outset that the dog is a sentient, intelligent animal that has real physical and, importantly, emotional needs, then you have a good chance of being the best caregiver possible to your new doggy companion.