Getting a Family Dog – What to Consider

Sheltie Dog

Your family has decided that they want to get a dog. This is a very exciting time but it is important to consider several things before you proceed.  Dogs are an additional member of your family and need to be included in your life. If your lifestyle is busy and you do not have the time to devote to a dog, then it is important to realise this and discuss this fact with your family members.  Here are some other things that you should consider:

Choose the Right Breed for Your Situation

If you are not very active you should not choose a dog that needs a massive amount of exercise.  Herding dogs such as Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs and Kelpies are highly intelligent and need a lot of play and exercise. Since they are herding dogs, if they are not exercised enough they will get bored and may even try to herd your children around your house!

Select a Dog that is the Right Size for Your Home

If you live in a small apartment, a large breed dog (Saint Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff) may not be right for you. There are plenty of smaller and medium-sized dogs that are suitable for smaller spaces and are extremely family-friendly. Retrievers, Terriers, Poodles, German Shepherds and Spaniels all make an ideal family pet.  It just depends on which type of dog you prefer.

Will Your Family Commit to Caring for Your new Dog?

Dogs require a lot of attention and care. Puppies are like babies in that they will cry all night long because they have been separated from the only home they have known since birth. Prepare for plenty of sleepless nights until the puppy adjusts to their new home with you and your family.

Puppies also need lots of play time and chew toys because they are teething. The last thing you want it to have a puppy destroy all of your expensive shoes because it needs to chew on something.

Does Anyone in Your Home Have a Dog Allergy?

It’s best to find out now if someone in your home has an allergy to dogs. There are certain types of dogs that are less likely to cause a problem with allergies and they are known as hypoallergenic dogs. These breeds include Schnauzers, Bichon Frises, Poodles and Labradoodles (or any ‘doodle’ for that matter).

Consider Adopting a Mutt

Mixed breeds are not as likely to succumb to a genetic disease as a purebred dog. The problem with purebred dogs is that through over-breeding and some inbreeding they have become genetically inferior and can be prone to cancer, skin diseases and other problems. Crossbreeds are hardier although it is difficult to predict how large the dog will be when it matures. It is not always possible to know the breed of that puppy’s parents or to know what their personality or temperament will be when it is fully grown.  Your local animal shelter may have some puppies up for adoption and this can be the perfect place to find a mutt to love.

Fun Fact: Did you know a dog that is a mix of three breeds is called a ‘Mongrel’?

Choose a Dog with a Mild Temperament

If you are choosing a purebred dog, a mild mannered breed is a great choice. Boxers, Bulldogs, Spaniels, Poodles, Wheaten Terriers, Pugs and Bichon Frises are all dogs that tend to be mellow and have a nice temperament. This is very important when you have small children around because other dog breeds may not have the same patient disposition. Very small breed dogs however can be very delicate and are not always the best choice, particularly if your children are small. If you need to have a smaller dog, terriers such as the Smooth Fox terrier, Norwich Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier are all great choices. Terriers tend to be quite happy, so this could be a problem, depending on where you live.

Consider a Dog that “Failed”

Sometimes dogs that are meant to become a guide dog and they are adopted out after their training program. This is because they are considered not to be suitable as a guide dog for some reason and this can be a bonus for your family. You can contact a local guide dog school in your area to find out how you can apply to adopt this type of dog. Although there may be a lengthy application and waiting list, these dogs will be fully trained and can save you a lot of aggravation and time.

Where to Find Your New Dog

  • Local animal shelter – Most people want to adopt a puppy, but there are also many dogs available at your local animal shelter that need a loving home. Don’t automatically assume that a shelter dog has been abused and is unpredictable. Dogs go to shelters for many reasons including owners divorcing, an owner dying or a family moving to a place that doesn’t allow pets. Shelters have a substantial amount of questions for potential owners and this is because they want to ensure that your family is matched with a dog that is best suited for your home and situation.
  • Breed-Rescue Group – If you have your heart set on a certain breed but cannot afford to purchase one, consider contacting a breed-rescue group. These groups collect dogs which have been abandoned by their owners from local shelters, kennels and vets. You can also contact these groups if you have breed specific questions as they are a great resource if you are going to get a dog from a breeder.
  • Breed Specific Breeder – if a purebred puppy is what you are after, look for a local breeder that specializes in the breed of dog you are after. Make contact with the breeder and arrange a visit where you can meet the breeder, see the puppies and view the parents of the puppies. In some cases there may not be puppies but a litter could be expected soon. You may need to be on a waiting list (if the breeder approves of you). You may also have to sign an agreement where you will have the dog spayed or neutered so that you do not breed it with other dogs.

Please be a good dog parent by giving them the time and love they deserve. Feed them a good quality food, groom them regularly and take them to the vet for an annual check up and shots. Owning a dog is a serious commitment that you should take very seriously because a dog is a member of your family and will be with you for many years into the future.

I have a passion for dog training, behaviour and wellbeing. I have a certificate in dog psychology, behaviour and training.

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