Choosing the right dog | So you’re getting a dog
If you are reading this it is likely that you have already made the decision to get a dog or are close to being at that point. Getting a dog is not a decision to be taken likely and is realistically going to be a commitment for 10-15 years possibly more depending on breed. This is why choosing the right dog is so important before making that leap.
Before we even look at breeds and other factors we need to look at our lifestyles and whether they are suitable to add a dog to our lives. Have you got time in your life to dedicate to a new four legged friend and put time into the initial and on going training.
Dogs thrive on a good routine so making sure you have this time to accommodate this is vital. When fully grown, a dog needs to have a walk or training session once or twice a day to keep them stimulated and healthy.
Do your work hours suit having a dog? Whilst dogs are more than capable of being at home alone whilst you go out to work, it may be a good idea to research whether you have a local dog walker or friend that could assist with a lunchtime toilet break or walk to break their day up especially when they are a young dog.
When you first bring a puppy home I always recommend taking a week or two off work to ensure you are available to help your puppy settle in and get a good start on house training. If consistent with house training you and your pup should have a good foot hold on this in the first week unfortunately if you are distracted with working or other things it is likely you will miss vital cues from your pup that they need the toilet and accidents will happen. This will prolong your house training process.
Also you will usually bring your new pup home at around 8 weeks, which is bang in the middle of what we call the “fear period” this is a small window where a puppy builds opinions on different things it experiences in its world. If any of these experiences are bad or frightening it is likely that a fear will be developed that is taken on to adult life and require some behavioural assistance. So it important to have that time to help your puppy have different experiences and make these nice experiences.
Choosing the right dog |Dogs are not cheap!
Despite the crazy rise in prices of puppies and dogs over the last few years I am not referring to the purchase cost of a dog. Before you get a dog please give some consideration to whether you can afford their maintenance. Dogs require a healthy diet which will probably cost you between £25-£60 a month depending on the size of the dog, this of course doesn’t take into consideration any special dietary needs your individual dog may have. Your dog will also require an annual vaccination or test to ensure it has adequate antibodies to protect from diseases such as Parvo, these generally cost around £50 a year. Added to this you need to bare in mind that if your dog gets injured or unwell the vets costs could easily be well into the £1000’s depending on the issue. Insurance obviously gives us a support with this but will add another £25-£50 a month to our bill which will usually increase as the dog ages. On top of all these it is worth baring in mind other costs such as a training/dog walker/Kennels for holidays/car travel crates/bedding/toys/spaying and neutering costs and much more.
|Which breed is right for me?
This is the part that a lot of people get wrong as they don’t put enough time into researching breeds and what breed would be right for them. People often pick a breed based on size and how they look. So lets look at choosing the right dog for you.
There has been a huge surge in the popularity of what we would class as working breeds such as working cocker spaniels, pointers and other hunting breeds. Whilst they can make great pets they take a lot of work to train and keep their busy brains occupied. We have seen a lot of people struggling to cope with natural behaviours that certain breeds exhibit, and not fully understanding why they are seeing certain behaviours.
If you have an active lifestyle and love being outdoors with your dog on adventures and can dedicate the necessary time to training, these breeds can be an option, however if this is going to be your first dog you may be better looking at a less “driven” dog, ie a non working strain of the breed.
For first time dog owners I would look at more companion type dogs such as Shih-Tzus, Bichon Frise, Papillon, Pugs etc. Whilst needing a solid foundation of training as any dog requires, these types of dogs are on the whole much less “driven” and happy to potter about on their daily walks and then go home for a snooze.
That isn’t to say you have to be constrained to a small dog. Breeds such as Labradors can make excellent family companions, however it is worth doing your research into bloodlines and try to stay clear of the working lines that may be more highly driven and energetic.
It is also worth mentioning cross breeds as people tend to see these as a better option. However, bare in mind that a cross breed could display not only the desirable characteristics of the breeds that are mixed, but also the less desirable traits.
Whatever breed you feel drawn to, do your research. What was the breed first bred for? Talk to the breeders or rescue centre if its an older dog about how they think the dog would fit in to your home and lifestyle.
It is also worth doing some research into breeds prone to certain health conditions and what health testing has been completed to ensure its been responsibly bred.
Whatever breed you ultimately decide to settle on make sure you seek out a trainer to set you on the right path with your dogs training journey and see a trainer before a small issue becomes a bigger one and potentially a behavioural issue.
Around the circle
I am part of a fabulous blog circle with other dog trainers. Each blog in the circle links to the next so you can read what each of them has to say about choosing the right dog.
So next in the circle is –