Sometimes we forget how important it is to choose the right kind of dog before going out and having the fun of picking out a new puppy. Practically everyone has a pet—how hard can it be to raise and keep a dog? Often, emotions take over when we go out to get a new pet, and all we can see is how cute and playful they are. But there is plenty of responsibility involved, and this is a big, long-term commitment that should not be undertaken on a whim. When we decide to get a new pet, matching temperament and breed characteristics to our personalities and lifestyle can make the whole experience of having a dog as rewarding as we imagine it to be. Choosing the wrong dog can turn the experience into a nightmare of frustration and difficulty.
Choosing the right dog can add emotional wealth and companionship to your life. A little work and research before you go out and pick a new dog can pay off for years to come. In this and the next post, I will discuss some common mistakes that can end in regrets, and some ways that you can get the best possible match when you select your new dog. You and your family need to be happy with your choice, and you will also have a responsibility to your new animal.
Let’s start with the common mistakes that are made. Most of these mistakes come from choosing a dog based on looks, or on mistaken associations that they have about types or sizes of dogs.
Mistake #1: Getting a breed because “I had one as a kid”. The memory of a beloved childhood pet is an enduring thing, and can influence our choices as adults. However, we rarely live the exact same lifestyle as we did growing up, and so the same dog breed won’t necessarily fit the same circumstances. Also, it’s easy to fondly remember a childhood dog from an age when an animal’s welfare and the upkeep of the household were not our responsibility! So start with a fresh slate, and consider your current lifestyle.
Mistake #2: Choosing a dog because someone you know has a dog that you like. If your neighbor/friend/relative has a dog that you think is wonderful, don’t assume that getting another dog of the same breed will give the same result. Dogs vary individually, so you cannot count on getting the same temperament in your dog. Also, your dog will not receive exactly the same care, training, and exercise as someone else’s, and therefore a dog with the same energy levels or temperament might behave very differently than it would in different circumstances.
Mistake #3: Choosing a dog because you like the way they look. Frankly, many people choose pets solely on looks. It is important to choose based on temperament and a few other practical factors, rather than on appearances.
Mistake #4: Choosing a dog based on size. Actually, there are sometimes good reasons that size will play a factor in choosing a dog. But the mistake that I’m talking about here is a common one where people make assumptions about temperament based on the size of an animal. For example, I frequently hear comments such as, “I don’t like small dogs. They are so yappy and mean.” Temperament varies from breed to breed and from dog to dog, and above all depends on exercise, care, and training, regardless of size.
So, what should you look for when choosing a dog? We will go over those topics in the next post