Thinking about getting a new dog? Whether you're going through a breeder or through rescue, here are 5 questions I recommend asking yourself before you fall in love with a dog.
1) What energy level can my family handle?
There's nothing more challenging than a mismatched dog/family placement. All dogs need physical and mental exercise, but some dogs need much more than others. Be realistic about the energy level you and your family are comfortable with.
2) What kind of training and time commitment am I really willing to make?
Puppies and adolescent dogs require almost constant management, and proper socialization requires a major time commitment. The more training you put in early in your pup's life, the more well-behaved of an adult dog they'll grow up to be.
But remember, adult dogs need training, too! It isn't fair to expect your newly adopted adult dog to come to you perfectly trained. There will still be work to be done, even with an older dog.
3) What's a typical [insert your breed/mix of choice here] like?
Research, research, research!
Know the history of the breed of dog you're interested in, and find out as much as you can about their energy level, their general tolerance of strangers/children/other animals, and any special medical or grooming requirements they may need.
For example, field-line Labrador and Golden Retrievers are going to have extensive exercise needs. And sighthounds like the Greyhound and the Whippet were originally bred to hunt and kill small prey, so they may not be suitable for a home with cats.
4) What are my "wants" and what are my "needs" in a dog?
You may want an Australian Shepherd, but you may need a dog that can tolerate being left in an apartment during the workweek.
When your wants clash with your needs, make sure you're looking for a dog that meets your family's needs. Sometimes, you simply can't have both, and it's better in the long run for both your family and your future dog that everyone's needs are accounted for.
5) Is everyone in my family ready for this commitment?
There's nothing more isolating than being the only person in the family that's truly committed to the fun and the not-so-fun parts of adding a dog to the family. Make sure everyone is on board with the decision before you move forward.