Choosing a Dog Who Is Right For You

The Proficient Pup

Thinking of getting a new doggy? Maybe you already have a dog in mind, or maybe you just want to see what’s out there.  Here are a few tips to help you in your search when choosing that new canine companion.

1. Do you want to have a dog as a permanent member of your home, or do you want to care for one temporarily?  If you are looking for a temporary friend, you can look into fostering a dog for several weeks.  Many rescue organizations need fosters, as it is a way for dogs to get out of shelters while waiting for their permanent homes.  Note: If you are going on vacation soon, you want to wait to add your permanent or temporary family member until you return home.  Your new dog will need stability the first few weeks.

2. Okay, you’ve decided you want a permanent family member. Do you want to go through a breeder or to a shelter/rescue organization? You can find purebred puppies at both places, although there may be more available though a breeder. Please do your research if you want to go through a breeder; there are many disreputable backyard breeders out there who breed for the money and not for the health and well-being of the puppy or the breed.  And, just because a dog is labeled “purebred” does not mean it really is.  Purebred puppies are not free of disease or genetic anomalies, and you are just as likely to find that “perfect” pup at a shelter.

3. You’ve decided on the way to find your doggie, but what kind? This also requires a bit of thinking and research.  What are you looking for in a companion?  What kind of lifestyle do you have?  Do you want to hike and camp and have a constant companion?  You may not want a dog who is easily frightened.  Do you live in a small apartment?  You probably don’t want a Great Dane.  Do you want a quiet friend who is content relaxing most of the day?  A Jack Russell Terrier may not be the one for you.  Would you prefer a puppy who requires a lot of attention and guidance, or an older dog who is looking for love in his later years? Figure out what you would like in a best friend and then look for a dog with those general characteristics.

4. You’ve done your research and you know what you’d like and where to find it.  Time to meet your dog!  When you go to the shelter, let the staff know what you are looking for.  They have experience with the dogs as individuals and get to know their personalities.  The staff can help you narrow your search.  They want their doggies to go to loving homes, and they really want to make a great match so that both you and the dog you pick are happy!  Ask lots of questions that may be important to you.

Is the dog a lap dog or does it prefer to sit at your side? Does he like to play ball or tug on ropes?  Does he like water?  If you have children or other pets at home, these are things to consider, as well.  You may even need to bring them with you to meet your new friend.  And while the staff may not know all of the answers to your questions, they will know some, and that will help you decide if this doggy is for you.  That and the fact that he is looking at you with those “I love you” eyes.

5. Welcome home!  You’ve got your new dog!  While you may be eager to take him to the beach, the dog park, or introduce him to new people, give him chance to acclimate for a few days.  Whether you took home a young puppy from the breeder or adopted a shelter dog, moving them into a new home is a big transition.

Set both yourself and your dog up for success by giving limited access to your home so that your dog is not overwhelmed by all of the space. Crate training is a good idea from the beginning.  And if you feel overwhelmed, call a certified, positive-reinforcement trainer.  Most will answer a few questions on the phone for free and, as a result, you may find that you want to meet with the trainer for more help.  In conclusion, getting help is a good thing; it enables you to enjoy your dog the way you always imagined!

I hope these tips help you out! Good luck finding your new friend and if you need help, give me a call at 760-651-6364!!

Lynn Webb, M.A., KPA CTP, CTMT


Let’s Take Your Dog From Fearful to Playful!