You are excited, friends and family are reaching fever pitch as the puppy subject has been broached and you’re asking what’s the best dog for me?
Take a breath, sit yourself down and perform a lifestyle audit to help you choose the dog for you.
You may think this exercise is common sense but over 3 million dogs* enter shelters in the US each year. There are many reasons for this but some are down to their owners not understanding the scale and type of commitment they are taking on.
There are not necessarily right or wrong responses to the questions posed here but they will frame the decision on whether you feel you have the capacity in your life for a dog and subsequently help answer the question you have posed yourself – what’s the best dog for me?
Take an honest look at your personal circumstances and those of your spouse, partner children etc.
- What are the household working patterns?
- Are there any likely changes in the pipeline to your current circumstances?
- How old are any children in the household?
- Are your children happy around animals?
- Do you have family or friends that might help with your dog if required?
- Do you have other commitments that limit your spare time?
- Do you have disposable income? How much can you afford monthly for your dog?
- Do You have other pets in the house that may influence your decision?
Look at your lifestyle, what type of canine friend you are after? Are you looking for a dog to share your outdoor pursuits with you or be a companion around the house?
- How physically fit are you?
- Are you a couch potato, a fitness fanatic or something in between?
- Do you like the outdoors?
What are your housing circumstances? What is your local environment like, is it suitable for the type of dog you are looking to bring home?
- Do you live in a one bed apartment, a sprawling mansion or something in-between?
- Do you have a backyard and what size is it?
- Do you have areas of open space nearby (parks, woods, beaches etc.)?
Assessment - What's The Best Dog For Me?
Armed with an audit of your circumstances and aspirations for your life with your furry friend you are in a good place to first assess whether you have the capacity, time and lifestyle to provide the care and mental and physical exercise your dog will require. This has to be the prime consideration – there’s truth in the adage that a tired dog is a good (and subsequently happy) dog.
Secondly, you can start to look at which breed may be the best for you. Whether a poodle mix (you would expect a biased view here), another crossbreed or a pedigree dog you need to review their characteristics and cross match them with the criteria you have established.
It may sound an overly methodical process but it is good to back up an understandably emotional decision with some solid rationale. This should significantly reduce the possibility of things turning sour when your new puppy comes home and the reality of the effort required dawns on a new owner.
In extreme cases this can lead to dogs having to be re-homed through no fault of their own.
Targeted Training and Socialization
As with any live being it isn’t purely a numbers game. Just because general breed characteristics say that breed x does y there are many contributory factors that influence whether that actually transpires. It is difficult for me to believe a Golden Retriever could ever be aggressive but some are due to the circumstances they find themselves in or through shady breeding practices.
It may be possible to come to the conclusion that a breed exactly matches your requirements or vice versa. There may however be areas where there are slight mismatches and these can identify areas where you have to modify your behaviors or target specific training or socialization. (Family training before your puppy comes home)
In our case my main area of concern was that Poochons are a very sociable breed and like to be with their owners whenever possible. With our work patterns etc. I knew there would be a few hours a week when Charlie would have to be on his own.
Knowing this meant that training could be targeted on Charlie’s acclimatization into our home, establishing a normal routine and working on him being happy to be left for short periods of time.
The training subsequently led to Charlie being happy to be left and almost shuffling us out the door so he can tuck into his filled kong!
Forewarned is forearmed! Do Your homework beforehand and you will give yourself the best chance of kicking off life with your puppy in a positive manner.
Let us know if you have successfully matched a breed with your lifestyle and/or identified areas that you had to specifically work on with your new puppy.
Author: Matt Short
Enthusiastic Poochon/Bichpoo/Bichonpoo (how many names) Owner. Husband, father and dog walker extraordinaire.