Here's what you need to consider before getting a dog

By Charlotte Bryan

Your family has decided they want to get a dog and this is a very exciting time! Before going out and finding a beloved pooch though, there are some things to consider first. For starters, dogs become family members and do come with responsibilities as they rely on you for food, water, shelter, care and love. So, what are some of the things you should be considering before you welcome your new pet into your home?

Consider what breed would suit your lifestyle

You need to take into account your lifestyle and the lifestyle of other family members before deciding on the right dog breed for you. If you have little time, work long hours or are just not very active, then you won't want to choose an energetic breed of dog that requires loads of exercise. Border Collies, for example, love to play and exercise a lot! If you have little children in your home who tend to leave the front door open then getting a sighthound like a Greyhound or Whippet may not be the way to go because these breeds typically love to chase small animals once they "sight" them, and can be a little difficult to get back! Of course, these are just generalisations. Greyhounds, if trained from a young enough age, may be taught to not chase moving objects, and not all Border Collies are super high energy (just take a look at mine!).

There are always exceptions to the rule but you can research a dog's breed for a general guide. Your lifestyle also encompasses your home environment - how much do you want to groom your new dog? How much are you willing to spend on food each week? How much shedding can you tolerate?

Consider a breed suit ably-sized for your home

It's vital that you choose the right sized breed for your home. The size of your home (including whether or not you have a fenced yard) should play a large role in determining what breed you should get (or whether you get a dog at all). Ideally, all dogs should have access to a yard or garden. For those in apartments, this is not always possible. If you are an apartment dweller then you should ensure that you have a park within walking distance of your home so you can easily get out and exercise your dog and allow them to sniff and explore. If you are an apartment dweller then you may want to opt for a smaller, low energy breed. Shih Tzus can often be seen living in apartments - these little dogs make great companions and don't require excessive amounts of exercise.

Consider whether any of your family members have a dog allergy

Just because someone living in your household has a dog allergy doesn't mean that you can't get a dog. If this is the case, try getting a Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Poodle, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier or another Hypoallergenic breed (breeds that reportedly do well with people with dog allergies). A quick Google search can bring up a list of Hypoallergenic dog breeds.

Consider the age of the children (if you have any) in your home

Children are typically loud, boisterous and unpredictable. All dog breeds have lovely personalities - some however are a little more forgiving than p.17 others. Therefore, you want to look for a breed with a mild or typically more mellow temperament. Breeds like the Bichon Frise, Boxer, Pug, Spaniel and Bull Dog can be good choices. If you're worried that your children might get accidently knocked over if your dog gets too excited then you might want to choose a dog that is on the smaller side. Perhaps the ultimate breed for little ones is the Bichon Frise. Their curly coat doesn't shed and cause allergies, and they are a hardy dog with a gentle temperament. They do require regular grooming though.

Consider whether you want to get a puppy or adopt an adult dog

Whilst getting a puppy may seem more exciting than adopting an adult dog, you must bear in mind that a puppy is hard work. Puppies are boisterous, cheeky and tend to get into mischief - you need to start training them from a young age. An adult dog however, tends to be more settled and may not require as much training. You could also consider a dog that "failed". Not all dogs that are put through the Guide Dog training process pass as fully fledged Guide Dogs. In fact, most don't. It is not that there is anything wrong with these dogs, it's just that they don't quite meet the STRICT criteria required to become a service animal. These dogs come fully trained so may be an option for those looking to adopt an adult dog.

Where to Find Your New Dog

So you've got an idea about the ideal dog for you. But where do you find them? Local Animal Shelter - Save a life and adopt a dog from your local animal shelter. There are many beautiful dogs in animal shelters just hoping to become part of a loving home. Many of them make the most devoted pets.

The shelter will ask you lots of questions to ensure the dog is going to a good home. Breed-Rescue Group- If you can't afford to buy a certain breed but have your heart set on one, a good solution is to contact a breed-rescue group. These organisations save dogs who have been abandoned by owners, vets, kennels, breeders and shelters. They are also an invaluable source of information on dog breeds. Breed-Specific Breeder- To buy a purebred puppy, you'll need to find a dog breeder who specialises in that particular breed. Visit the breeder to view the parents and the puppies, then make your choice. There is a chance you'll be put on a waiting list and you may need to be approved by the breeder first, before you can buy a pup.

The Takeaway

Dogs need love, attention and devotion. Be a good parent and show your dog the same love you would show a child or loved one - but don't treat them as human child! Babying a dog can lead to training and behaviour problems later on! Dogs are not toys. They are a lifetime commitment and should be members of the family. In return, they'll love you forever and devote their entire life to you.

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