How to take the guesswork out of choosing the right dog for your lifestyle
Choosing the right dog for you and your family is probably one of the most important decisions any dog owner will ever make. Your dog will very quickly become your best friend, a devoted companion and an integral part in the way you shape your lifestyle. I am sure you wouldn’t want to let your new best friend down by making poorly informed decisions based on bad advice.
The pupose of this article is to enlighten you about which parts of your daily routines and personality traits may affect the quality of your interaction with a particular type of dog breed and at the same time give you the tools to anticipate your own dog’s behaviour..
Choosing The Right Dog Is Easy As 1..2..er..6
You are choosing the right dog for your lifestyle. Out there somewhere is a dog that will match perfectly the general mood and outlook of your day to day life.
- Some breeds love playing and rolling around with noisy children,
- Some breeds are more aloof and prefer the quiet sanctity of one or two owners,
- Some dogs will happily doze through the chaos of your households day to day existence.
- Some breeds are more sensitive than others to noise and intrusion.
Broad personality traits for different dog breeds can be described with some degree of accuracy:
- Terriers for example are often feisty, tenacious and scrappy. Sporting breeds are usually friendly, biddable and fun-loving while Working breeds are generally protective and easy to train.
- Bitches often have a gentler temperament and can be easier to train with less likelihood of wandering than male dogs. Males tend to be more headstrong and territorial requiring a firmer hand from their owner.
These are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. All dogs have different personalities – even dogs within the same breed or even the same litter.
When thinking about the right dog for you, think about your own lifestyle. The more you can include your dog into that lifestyle the more harmonious your partnership is going to be.
- Are you a regular exercise nut? Power jogging and tantric cycling your thing? Then perhaps a Dachshund with its teeny weenie little legs is not going to be the best running companion.
- If your T.V remote channel changing digit is the most athletically honed part of your anatomy. then you not going to get on very well with a highly motivated Border Collie.
All dogs require regular exercise and activity, although the amounts vary from breed to breed .The vast majority of Dog Behavioral Problems. occur when a dog’s owner is unable or unwilling to fulfill the needs of their particular dog.
A lot of bad dog behaviour such as chewing, excessive digging or barking are a result of bored under stimulated dogs.
Please make sure you take the time and research which dog temperaments will best suit you.
Many of the dogs given up for adoption (or euthanasia) come from people who incorrectly assume that getting a dog is sort of like getting a new treadmill or mountain bike. These same people were surprised to find that having a dog join their lives was more like adding a new family member, with a lot of practical chores and demands but also an emotional give-and-take that they were not expecting.
On an average day most dogs require:
- Feeding twice
- Being taken on 2-3 walks. At least one of these walks should be somewhat lengthy (depending on the breed of dog and the weather).
- Playing and emotional interaction
Don’t forget the grooming which is an important part of dog care. All dogs regardless of type will need some basic grooming, nails need to be clipped ears cleaned, teeth brushed and bathing are important for your dogs general health and well being.
Light grooming should be conducted every few days (again depending on the individual needs of the dog’s coat).
For a younger dog you’d also have to consider time devoted to training and socialization. Since this is only a conservative time estimate-and one that doesn’t consider the downside of medical problems or the upside of just hanging out with the dog and keeping each other company.
You really have to ask your self whether making that kind of commitment to an animal is appealing to you or realistically out of the question.
Some people can start feel guilty or resentful towards their dog which they perceive as an impediment to their personal freedom; These negative emotions take the fun out dog ownership.
That sense of obligation can even interfere with the person’s attachment to their pet . Realizing too late that you don’t really have (or want to give) the needed time for a pet can also lead to a dog being given up to the shelter, a traumatic failure for the animal that could have been avoided by a realistic assessment beforehand of how much time and energy a dog requires.
Conducting basic obedience training and socialising your new pooch is an absolute must to ensure they learn the right way to behave in polite company.
It is important to remember that dogs are pack animals by nature. They are born in a litter and have a strong sense of social hierarchy, it’s wired into their DNA. This hierarchy must have a leader and that leader will be YOU.
Most dogs are not natural alphas, and will gladly delegate all responsibility to you. Without an alpha giving them their group structure, dogs can lose confidence and become anxious which may then develop into behavioral problems.
Proper training brings out the confidence in timid dogs and manages the more unruly ones; Naturally dominant dogs will accept a lower rung on the pecking order and help to mitigate possible aggression issues.
As well as providing your dog with all the behavioral tools to thrive in their environment, a good training regime should also incorporate extensive socialisation. This should begin as early as possible in a young puppy’s life.
Socialisation provides your dog with an invaluable sense of social well being – this period of a dog’s training appropriate and positive experiences with humans, other dogs and the environment is essential if your puppy is to develop into a successful pet dog.
Why Does Training Matter When Choosing The Right Dog?
How well you are able to train and socialise your dog will have a direct bearing on the quality of life you will both experience with each other.
Some dog breeds have naturally dominant personalities or are particularly difficult to train owing to a willful or stubborn aspect to their character.
It makes sense therefore to choose the kind of dog you feel confident to control. Using physical punishment in order to force you dogs’ obeyance and ruling through fear is never the right approach.
You must have the strength of character and patience required to conduct basic dog obedience training effectively and without losing your calm.
- Easiest Dog Breeds To Train
- Most Difficult Dog Breeds To Train
- Naturally Dominant Dog Breeds
Regardless of how you decide to approach your dog’s training there is no doubt that a well trained and behaved dog makes life more comfortable and less stressed out for dog and owner alike.
working out the training requirements of your dog before you choose it will reduce the chance that your new pet becomes too unmanagable to keep.
From Chihuahuas to Great Danes. The size ranges for different dog breeds is so large that it is sometimes hard to believe that they all belong to the same species. Big is definitely not always better!
One of the first things you will need to consider when choosing the right dog is how much space do you have to live in and how big a dog can you reasonably manage to keep. Considerations associated with very large dogs are not always obvious.
- Do you live in a small apartment? Larger dogs may need room to manoeuvre. Big waggy tails have been known to sweep away potted plants, Ming vases and small children with one swoosh of enthusiasm or over excited bounding.
- On the flip side –most dogs are happy to live in the same space as their owners providing they are getting the right amount of daily exercise. A dog’s exercise needs and energy levels are often directly related to their size.
- If you have children then their ages may have some bearing on the size of dog you should be considering. Small dog breeds can be quite delicate and more vulnerable to mishandling.
- Smaller dog breeds feeling anxious by unpredictable children might be more inclined to bite than larger more robust dogs for whom children present less of a percieved threat. There are loads of dog breeds which are good with children
- A less obvious, but nonetheless important consideration when choosing the right dog for you is how manageable your dog is. It is far easier to move or carry a small dog breed than a large one. Accidents do happen, could you carry your injured St Bernard any great distance to get help?
- Larger dog breeds often belong to groups associated with herding and working which may require a stronger personality to fully control. There are plenty of small or toy dogs who have strong wills, but an out of control Rottweiler is a far more concerning prospect than a Yorkshire Terrier with a ‘Napoleon complex’.
Very often your final choice boils down to compromise. Many people find that the larger variety and versatility of medium sized dog breeds sways them over their more extreme sized cousins.
People often choose a pure dog breed because they they feel that pure breeds are some how ‘better’ than mixed dog breeds. It is true that character wise you know what you are likely to get with a pure breed, but mutts and mongrels can also make fantastic pets and are often free of health conditions that plague many of their more refined cousins.
When choosing the right dog there is no doubt that purebreeds are very popular, you probably have your own favourite.
Perhaps you grew up with a Basset Hound and have fond memories from childhood, maybe your best friend has a Labrador and you love the way it goofs around, perhaps through your own reading you’ve narrowed down a certain breed that you think is the right dog for you.
Before you go ahead and buy a pure breed puppy, you should be mindful of possible health problems in case it makes a difference to the choices you make about your dog.
Numerous breeds of popular dogs are becoming predisposed to serious health problems and life-threatening conditions and the only protection you have against this is if the breeder willingly has genetic testing done on their breeding dogs to reduce the chances of problems in their puppies.
While this is not true of all breeds there are undoubtedly some which have been bred to the point where their physiology or genetic make up can have a severe impact on their health, as well as your wallet in the form of vet’s fees and insurance premiums.
- Bull dogs for example cannot give birth naturally owing to the size of the puppy’s head.
- Some breeds may have ongoing problems issues related to physical features such long backs, saggy eyes or shortened muzzles.
- Some breeds have serious congenital problems associated with them.
Proper research is vital to ensure you are fully prepared for any potential health concerns your chosen breed will present and only ever deal with a reputable breeder.
- How to find a Reputable dog breeder?
- What are the healthiest dog breeds?
- Which dog breeds have the most health problems?
Have you considered a mixed breed dog?
Mixed breeds often make unique, wonderful companions and are often subject to fewer health problems than their purebred cousins. The combination of two or more breeds balances out the physical and personal characteristics of the parent breeds and mitigates against the worst inherited health problems through the process of hybrid vigour .
Are Mutts Smarter Than Purebreds?
This is a common belief which is based in part on mis-interpreted observation.
- Purebreed dogs are predominantly raised in privilaged circumstances. They are well fed, socialised early and often and live in comfortable family surroundings. From an early age therefore they become dependent on us for everything.
- Mixed breed dogs on the other hand often have humbler origins where they learn to rely on their wits and to compete with their pack or litter mates for food. This doesn’t necessarily show increased intelligence, just a different form of learning based on cunning and oppertunism. Walt Disney’s ‘Lady And The Tramp’ demonstrates this idea perfectly.
Crossbreeds Or Designer Dogs?
Crossbreeds and mixed breeds are enjoying something of a popularity growth in recent years, not just from socially responsible families rescuing dogs from shelters but also from a rather interesting phenomena that has sprung up in the last few years, that of the designer/hybrid dog ‘breeds’.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Schnoodles ,Puggles, Cockerpoos and Labradoodles etc. These new ‘designer dogs’ have made the headlines as exciting new ‘breeds’ and are often seen being publicly paraded by their proud new celebrity owners.
Be mindful if you decide that one of these dogs is for you.These are not new dog breeds but crossbreeds plain and simple.
There is nothing wrong with these dogs as such and often make wonderful pets, but you may end up paying far more for a dog that you could find naturally and freely at a dog rescue shelter.
If you are interested in one of these ‘new breeds’, this article about designer dogs outlines the issues well.
Deciding how old your new dog should be is a consideration often overlooked by new owners. People tend to assume that buying a puppy is the only choice available.
In fact you may find an older dog is far more suitable for your lifestyle than a puppy. Caring for an older dog versus a puppy couldn’t be more different.
When choosing the right dog you maybe surprised to know that the age of your dog will cover many of your bases at a stroke.
Choosing A Puppy: Getting a new puppy is a rite of passage for many of us, those happy memories of your first dog as a kid when ‘Buster’ arrived as a 10 week old pup. What we forget however is all the time and patient training it took to bring out ‘Buster’s’ full potential as he grew into adulthood as the perfect family dog.
Puppies are delightful and scrumptiously cute I’m sure we all agree.
- New puppy care requires a lot of hard work which belies their tiny size.
- Puppys need to be trained and taught everything from scratch. Have a look at this page for some great advice about choosing a puppy
Let’s be realistic, if you are the adult of the house in all probability you will end up doing the bulk of the puppy’s training, despite the eager promises from any of your children.
- House training your puppy can be a long drawn out process
- Training puppy from scratch is also time consuming and requires great patience.
Couple all of this with midnight howling for Mamma, chewing furniture and slippers while they teethe and associated costs of vets bills for vaccinations and puppy classes means, you need to be absolutely sure you can cope with the demands a puppy brings.
Just being able to cope however is not enough, you will need to look forward to and enjoy the challenge that new puppy care presents and look forward to the time when you have a beautiful family dog and all that effort you put into puppy has finally paid off.
Adult Dog: If the idea of wiping up puddles of wee and sitting on gnawed chairs doesn’t appeal, or you just haven’t got the time to deal with the work that’s required in training a puppy. why not fast forward a bit and consider adopting on an adult dog. Lets be realistic, unless you are inheriting an adult dog from someone you know, the liklihood is that your adult dog will be a rescue dog from an adoption centre
There are a number of advantages to choosing an adult dog:
- You know what you are getting with an adult dog. Their temperament, health, energy levels, training and suchlike are already known quantities.
- Adult dogs are already likely to have been trained at least to some degree, at least to the point that they are house trained and understand basic commands.
- Rescuing an adult dog from an adoption centre and giving them a second chance at happiness is the is the kindest thing any new dog owner can do.
Why You Should Consider Adopting Your Dog
Some people don’t readily consider rescue or dog adoption centers assuming wrongly that those dogs are just bad, mad or ill. In fact nothing could be further from the truth and you will probably find that the expert assistance provided by staff at any one of the many decent dog adoption centers around will make choosing the right dog a much simpler process.
Senior Dog: When thinking about your prospective new dogs age it may be worthwhile considering an older or senior dog.
Very often these are animals who have spent many years living happily with an owner or family only for circumstances to change and they end up in a dog shelter. Because of their age, these dogs are less likely to be adopted and often spend their last years in a home or being put down.
- Adopting a senior dog can be a wonderful way to let an old faithful dog see out its twilight years, they are far more likely to be lower energy if you are seeking a more chilled out furry friend.
- An older dog may be an ideal solution if you live in a small apartment or don’t have much time to extensively exercise your dog.
- You may be a senior citizen yourself who’s looking to share some time in gentle companionship with a like minded soul rather than being run ragged by a lunatic puppy.
Older dog care differs greatly to new puppy care. Above all a senior dog needs love, patience and understanding, they will more likely require special attention regards diet and will be more prone to age related health issues, so you will need to be prepared for the possibility of more vet time. And of course being a senior dog you will obviously have a more limited life with them before they are called to the great kennel in the sky.
Organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) set the standards of the dog breeding world, they have traditionally categorised dog breeds according to the traditional working roles of the breeds in question. The seven AKC categories are:
- Herding Group
- Terrier Group
- Hound Group
- Sporting Group
- Non-sporting Group
- Working Group
- Toy Group
- Miscellaneous Group
The categories themselves are not so relevant to the practical realities of whether a certain breed would be a good fit for a single apartment-dweller or a family of five in the suburbs. It is also probably meaningless to the vast majority of dog owners that their pet was originally bred to jump into freezing water after ducks.
What does matter are the canine qualities that actually apply to a dog’s interaction with people in the modern world. Maybe the dog who has staked a claim to the best armchair in the house was originally bred to guard sheep on lonely mountains for weeks at a time, but that doesn’t mean that some individuals from this breed
might not be just as content to stretch out on that couch with you.
Key to understanding whether the life you are offering to share with a dog will be mutually satisfying boils down to the general personality and energy levels of a particular breed. Choosing the right dog is about compatibility. Once you have a realistic expectation of what a particular breed needs from you, the question you must answer honestly is whether you can offer that dog the kind of attention and exercise that they need.
- Will your dog be interacting with children much, either your own or other peoples? Some breeds are just better with kids than others, check out our favourite child friendly breeds?
- If you have never had a dog before , there are some fantastic breeds that are perfect for the inexperienced owner
- Perhaps you would only consider non allergic dog breeds? on account of a relative’s asthma.
- Everything getting a bit much and the choices too great – have a look at the 10 most popular dog breeds, these furry guys must be doing something right
- You may have your heart set on adoption.
- Do you live in the city? there are some great dog breeds for city living that absolutely thrive in the bright lights and hardly take up any room in the apartment