How to Know When, Where, and How to Choose your Dog?

Deciding to add a furry family member is a big step for anyone, it’s added responsibility and time to your daily life. After all, you’re committing to a long term relationship that is time extensive, money draining, and can be somewhat constraining on your lifestyle. It’s another life that you have responsibility for and too. On the positive side it does bring joy, fun, unconditional love, a family bond over this new entity in your environment, and a life full of wonder and learning for everyone. 63.4 million American households have at least one dog as a family member.  The sheer volume of dogs in this nation is staggering. The choices are endless and often complicated. With all the details, faces, wagging tails, and heart tugging stories, how do people decide what breed or dog is for them?

Here are a few “Quick Tips” before you Shop

  • Meet and greet potential puppies until something clicks with a dog or a breed

  • Research online and find out what dogs meet your lifestyle

  • Ask friends and family what they have and why

  • Don’t get a spur of the moment, knee-jerk decision dog

  • Find out if someone you know has a breed and you hear/see good things

There are many different ways, reasons and paths to dog ownership. There is no perfect science and all the pre-work in the world can be derailed by a dog that simply is NOT what you thought they would be. However, you can minimize the chances of choosing Mr. or Ms. Rightdog by following a simple list of qualifications before you jump into a years long relationship.

Consider These Things Before Pulling the Leash on a New Dog

Your Lifestyle

  • What kind of person, family are you?  Are you active as apposed to a homebody?

  • What is the human children outlook? Do you already have a tribe or plan to in the near future?

  • Can you afford to feed, care, and pamper a dog? Nearly 60% of American households could not pay for a $5000 vet bill, if this level of treatment were required

  • Do you have time, desire, and will? Any dog is time consuming, but a puppy is a time drain until they are trained and mature

  • What are your work vs home time percentages? If you work long hours away from your home, who would be there to feed, socialize, love and care for the dog while you’re gone?

  • What is the plan for long periods out of town (like vacations, work trips or emergencies?) You can’t just “jump and run” where there is a life to care for at your home

  • Is your home dog appropriate? Do you have space for a dog to grow, play and flourish? A dog should be a family member that has access to most or all spaces in the home

YOUR Preferences or Needs

  • What size dog suits you? It’s not always about the space you live in, dogs are adaptable. Big or small, the dog’s temperament and breeds inherit traits should be a consideration

  • Is shedding and/or hair loss an issue? Hair, Hair everywhere is a reality. Grooming is an expense, or a commitment if you DYI

  • What is your personal activity level? It’s important to match the dog to your personality. If you’re a couch potato, a high energy dog may not be a great fit for you

Don’t get caught up in the “latest” fads in dogs

  • Just because a breed is “in” doesn’t mean it belongs IN your home. Spend time with a breed to assure you really dig it, before it’s digging in your yard. Every dog has it’s own personality, and every breed has their own traits built in

  • Tried and True may not be for you. If your buddy has a Jack Russell, it may seem fun as you spend occasional time with that dog. But if you are a low energy, stay indoors, like to veg out on the couch, type of human, chances are this is not the dog for you

  • Puppies are great, but tons of work. Consider that a more mature, second chance, senior, or shelter solution might be more to your speed. These dogs normally appreciate the life you’re giving them and often require less overall work to bring them into the family vibe

Research before you reach a choice

  • Use your online options to get to know the breed. Learn about their inherited health issues, temperament, quirks, energy, sleeping and eating habits, and all the great (and not so great) things a particular type of dog can bring.

  • Spend extensive time with the breed. Friends, breeders, shelters, or rescues have the merchandise… so take the time to get to know how the product works before you buy. If you fully understand the dog, their needs and personality, then you can’t be fooled on the expectations.

  • Go to or watch a dog show. Sure, they are the cream of the cream of a breed but it’s also a way to see new and different breeds in action. Who knows what might tickle your fancy as you review the contestants in a dog show.  If “eye spy” a dog you’re interested in, then it opens up all the other paths of research to assure that’s a right  fit.

Purebred vs a Mixed Breed

  • There is a popular saying that “a dog, born of two dogs, is a purebred dog.” Does it really matter if they are 100% of a breed? Are you buying a piece of paper or a family member?

  • Purebred dogs are obviously more expensive than a “Heinz 57” breed.  However, research shows that mixed breed dogs have less health issues than their purebred counterparts. They simply don’t inherit has many built in tendencies for illness or defect

  • Both kinds love and deserve love in the same depth and breadth. Unless you are absolutely set on a particular breed that meets the need… save a life and find a best friend forever.

  • If you choose purebred, be prepared to “shop till you drop”, as there are over 200 AKC registered breeds to pick from. Russian Roulette for choosing a dog is NEVER a wise option.

Be SURE you have a reputable breeder

  • Beware of puppy mill scams. Mill dogs carry a higher likelyhood of illness. Many mill dogs get sick in the immediate weeks AFTER you bring them home, many never recover.

  • Does this breeder allow you to see siblings, their kennel area, and are they straight forward with answers to questions?

  • The right age to bring a puppy home, weened and ready to indoctrinate into your family, is between 8 and 12 weeks old. Don’t take one too early and beware of one that is older. Ask questions!

Rescue with Confidence but with Research

  • WE SUPPORT RESCUES and SHELTERS. But that doesn’t mean all their dogs are immediately a right fit for your home. Ask them questions about any dog you’re interested in.  What is the dogs history? What is their temperament? Do they get along with other dogs? What about kids? Are they potty trained or will you need to do work in this area? How is their health? ASK QUESTIONS!

  • Spend a good amount of time with the dog before you pull the trigger to own. The first dog you see doesn’t have to be THE dog you select. Nobody wants to leave a man behind, and the faces or stories at shelters/rescues can be heartbreaking, but it’s better to deny a dog that doesn’t fit in your vision of “A Life with Doggo” than be swayed by emotion and then end up with a bad match. Taking a dog back is horrible for the human and the dog.

  • Learn more about the Rescues/Shelter. How are they rated online? Do they have a track record of success stories? Where do they get their dogs from? What is their mission statement?

Picking a puppy/dog/companion/breed should not be a “New York Minute” decision. Do you pick a car in an instant? How about buying a house? I bet you spend a considerable amount of time picking out a new TV or gym membership? Why would you do less research on something that you are committing to love, raise and care for in a relationship that can last well over a decade?

Dogs are not “throw away” or “return if they are not the right size”. The emotional trauma on a dog that is “sent back” is immediate and long lasting… some never recover from it. Fur kids bond from the moment you invest your love and life into them. To rip them for a routine of normal, and force them back to the noise and loneliness of a life at a shelter or rescue is awful… especially when YOU hold the  responsibility, in advance, to assure you are making the right choice for EVERYONE involved.

3.1 million dogs are in shelters across the country. Between 400,000 and a million dogs are euthanized every year. The average per shelter of euthanized after intake is 2,700 per US shelter location (that’s nearly 74 a day). The most common breeds in shelters are Pit Bull Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Chihuahuas, Boxers, Beagles, Border Collies, and a variety of the Shepherd breeds. What do all these breeds have in common… breed specific traits, quirks and needs. How can you blame the dog, if the person turning the dog in did not simply DO THEIR HOMEWORK before bringing that dog into their household? Shame on people for being impulsive when another life is involved.

If you find yourself buying a dog for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special event, on a knee-jerk whim… if you are buying a gift of a dog for someone without their knowledge or approval… if you are bringing a dog into your home because your kids agreed to “always take care of it”… STOP AND THINK FIRST. Do your research and make sure it’s the right time, right fit, right breed before you pull the trigger on a dog.  You might determine it’s still the greatest idea in the world and the numbers show dogs need homes, so that is awesome. But you also might find out that the idea of the dog is a “not right now” or “put off till tomorrow” venture.  Better to know before than after, for everyone’s sake.

The moral of this story and the ask of all potential owners is simple; Knowledge is Power and Planning is King. Both of these things are in the hands of the potential new owners. Don’t shirk your duty to dog and family… take time to make the right call. Then… ENJOY the addition to your life.

We hope that shed some light on the dog selection process. Freddie want’s EVERYONE to have a dog, maybe an entire pack of dogs… the more the merrier. However, he wants them to be the most loved, most well adjusted, faithful family member that there can be. Taking the right steps, doing your homework, and test driving the dog on the lot (whenever possible) are all keys to responsible, positive, life-long, and happy dog living.

Well, that’s another Dog Blog in the books. With the Memorial Day Holiday coming at us fast and hard, Freddie also reminds pet parents to assure;

  • Yards and dog enclosures are secure, safe and in good repair
  • No plants, mushrooms or bad weeds (like Foxtails) are present in your dogs immediate space
  • Memorial Day Holiday guests know the rules of your dog and the dogs home (The dog was there first and it is HIS Place)
  • Walks at parks, beaches, or other populated places are safe for your dog, with leash/harness/collar checks before you venture out
  • If fireworks are scheduled, HAVE A PLAN to assure your dog is secured and comfortable before the show, away from the noise
  • Wild predators (birds, wolves, coyotes, snakes… ect.) are back with spring and summer. Be aware what is out in nature in your area, or places you intend to travel with your fur kids

All of these precautions are to assure you don’t have worries on this fun, family weekend.

From all of us at #FreddieSez, have a wonderful and pet friendly week ahead.  Hug your fur kids today, and everyday!

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