Choosing the right dog for you
Dogs are amazing. We all know this. There’s nothing more exciting than adding a new companion to your family. Having said this, picking a dog to suit your lifestyle can be an arduous experience. While the right dog can enhance your life, mismatches can cause all sorts of problems and (in the saddest of cases) result in relinquishment and/or euthanasia.
With this in mind let’s cover some of the main things to think about when you decide you’re ready for a dog.
Should I get a dog at all?
Sometimes all the passion in the world isn’t enough to be a good dog owner if your lifestyle isn’t conducive. If your dog would be left alone for hours on end and you don’t have the time to dedicate to regular exercise and training, a dog probably isn’t for you.
But don’t panic! There’s plenty of ways to get a doggy ‘fix’ without the huge responsibility that comes with dog ownership. Look into local rescue groups and get out there to volunteer. You could temporaily foster a dog, walk foster dogs and participate in associated events. My partner and I recently participated in a pack run with Rescue Your Fitness and Hunter Animal Rescue. It was a lot of fun walking with Lucy and sharing her story on social media. Thanks to our efforts that darling girl found a home, so it’s definitely worth looking into!
Rescue or buy?
People on both sides of the breeder vs rescue debate can get quite heated on this topic. I’m a bit biased in this regard as I tend to recommend rescuing as I know that there are plenty of dogs out there who are desperately in need of a good home. I also think that the average mutt or cross breed is well suited to most potential dog owners, and unless you have incredibly specific requirements from your dog, breed doesn’t totally matter.
Having said that, if your needs are specific then by all means seek out a dog breeder. Use a thorough screening process of breeders to ensure you aren’t inadvertently supporting a ‘back yard breeder’ (someone who breeds dogs with no thought or care to their health or welfare). If you’re buying a puppy, make sure the breeder lets you meet both parents and they provide you with health records and vet checks.
What age? What breed?
Most people have the belief that if you’re getting a new dog it HAS to be a puppy. Let me go on the record as saying this is absolutely not true! Getting an adult dog can save you the hassle of teaching basic manners, setting a nice socialisation foundation and toilet training. Additionally, although most people believe that they have to train a dog from puppyhood, it’s pretty easy to teach an old dog new tricks. Of course getting a well-mannered adult dog isn’t always a guarantee but it’s worth thinking about.
As for breed, I’m adamant that most households would do fine with any old mutt or crossbreed. Having said that, it is important to consider what kind of dog is suited to your household and lifestyle. Think about how much time you would be willing to train, exercise, groom and mentally stimulate your dog and choose accordingly. Want a dog with a perfect recall and low exercise maintenance in central Aus? Then a Siberian Husky is probably not for you! Match your needs with what you can give and you should get a general idea for the type of breeds/mixes that would suit you.