How to Choose the Right Dog for Your Family
DON’T LET CUTE BE YOUR ONLY DECIDING FACTOR
Whether you are looking to select a rescue dog or get a puppy from a reputable breeder, there are key steps you should take that will help lead you down the right pet adoption path. Understanding is a key principal of Cavalletto Canine’s training and behavioral counseling services because it forms the foundation of the relationship you build with your dog. And, the strength of that relationship will influence your ability to successfully train your dog and the lifestyle you will have together moving forward. Taking the time to understand not only the dog you plan to adopt, but also your needs, lifestyle and home environment is important knowledge to have before bringing home a new member of your family.
Evaluate Your Readiness
Be honest about your ability, commitment, and lifestyle as it relates to providing the level of interaction and care that your dog will need. Understanding what kind of time you can devote to your dog should be a key deciding factor in whether or not you are ready to commit to having a pet.
Know What Kind of Behavior You Want (And Don’t Want)
With a healthy lifestyle and good training, you could have your dog for 10-13 years. That’s a long time living together if you and your dog are not a good fit. Make a realistic list of what you want (a small, quiet lap dog who sits with you while you read or a large, energetic dog for the kids to play with outside). Also, make a list of characteristics you don’t want (you can’t stand barking or how heavy shedding would drive you crazy). Remember, there is no one perfect breed, but understanding the issues that would cause anxiety will help guide you toward selecting a dog who will be a happy addition to your home environment.
Determine if You Want a Shelter Dog or Do You Plan to Use A Breeder
Whether you want a purebred or shelter dog, each option has its challenges and rewards. The advantage of a purebred is that you can be more certain of the size, behavior and health of the dog. However, in some cases, purebred dogs can suffer from temperament issues due to inbreeding.
Mixed breeds can be a great choice because they can bring the best behaviors of multiple types of dogs. Some believe, as a result, mixed breeds have a better disposition and are more successful adapting to a new home. The downside of a mixed breed is that even with the shelter’s guidance, you will never be 100 percent sure what part of the mix will be dominant.
If you decide on a purebred, it is crucial to work with a reputable breeder. You can find breeders through AKC.org, but take the time to connect with them before setting up an interview and going to meet the dogs. If you want to adopt a shelter dog then research rescue organizations or humane society facilities in your area.
Consider the Dog's Disposition
After you know what you want and don’t want, you can narrow down the type of breed that will be the most successful for your home and lifestyle. If you have your heart set on a German Shepherd, but you work out of the home 60 hours a week and don’t have time to play with him, then you need to consider a different dog. German Shepherds need a lot of exercise, and if you can’t provide that level of attention, you will have an unhappy dog that may channel that energy into negative behavior. Do your research and make sure you can provide the lifestyle you and your dog will need to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Make Sure Temperament is Not an Issue
A dog’s temperament is how he reacts toward other dogs and people. Some of these traits are inherited while others acquired through experience. Proper testing will give you insight into behaviors such as: stability, confidence, shyness, friendliness, aggressiveness, protectiveness, prey instincts, play drive, and self-defense instincts, and ability to distinguish between threatening and non-threatening situations.
Knowing a dog’s temperament will help you better judge if he is a fit for your home and the level of training you will need to guide the behavior on a positive versus negative course. Cavalletto Canine can manage the temperament testing during your dog selection process to help identify specific traits and counsel you on the training needed to shape his attitude toward people, places and things going forward. Basic tips for testing a dog’s temperament include:
- Look for a social dog. (score 1-10) Does he approach you with his tail wagging?
- Put the dog by himself and walk away. Does he come after you?
- See how the dog deals with stress. (score 1-10) Put him in the back of your car and drive a short distance. What happens? Does he get excited or terrified?
- Total the points and trust your gut for overall dog interaction. It’s better to have too much energy than very little.
- Do your due diligence. Yes, dogs have genetic predispositions. Spend time with the dog.
When it’s time to take your dog home you will have the confidence in its ability to be successful within your lifestyle, environment, family, and friends. Cavalletto Canine can help you throughout the entire process of selecting the right dog to teach you the training skills that will help you bond with your dog so you can maintain positive habits and behaviors.
Learn more about Cavalletto Canine’s Dog Selection & Preparation Services and Relationship-Based Training Services and gain the expert guidance you need to introduce a new dog into your home successfully.