By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger
You’re kids have been bugging you about a family pet. You had a dog as a kid and it was great. So why not get a dog now for your children.
Even before selecting a breed or visiting a shelter or contacting a rescue facility, the question, “why get a dog?” should be answered honestly. Dogs require a great deal of time, money, effort and resources. Are you and everyone involved committed to 12 or more years of providing the necessities a dog needs? Well-behaved dogs are not born; they are the product of proper care, loving attention and training.
Imagine a loving family looking for a new car at an auto dealership. The parents tell their children to go find the car they like best. “I like this color,” squeals the toddler. “Oh, it’s so cute,” coos their daughter. The parents agree it’s the car for their family and they buy it with no idea of efficiency, economy or if the car is suited to their needs. Not realistic you say–they should have done their homework! Yet this same scenario occurs day in and day out with dog lovers who either impulsively or with feebly thought out assessment select a dog for appearance rather than temperament or without any consideration of their lifestyle or the requirements the dog may need. Tragically millions of these pets, due to frustration and disappointment from their owners, end up in shelters and rescues and many times are prematurely euthanized. As a trainer I see first hand many of these problems and the importance of matching a dog to a family.
If you are steadfast to integrating a dog into your family environment there are a variety of sources to aid you in determining the right match for you. Books, websites, breeders, trainers and your veterinarian can give insight into what dog is right for you. Websites such as dogbreedinfo.com provide questionnaires to get you thinking of logistics, lifestyle, likes and dislikes. AKC.org has an alphabetical listing of breeds and characteristics. Visiting a dog show can help you see the breeds you’re interested in and talking with responsible breeders can answer those questions you can’t find answers for. Your veterinarian can provide information on specific health care and possible genetic problems of a breed. Certified professional dog trainers can lend a hand not only with training your dog but also by providing a temperament test to give you a fairly reliable predictor of a puppy’s personality, sociability and potential trainability at maturity.
Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and colors. With more than 400 breeds developed for specific purposes and with a wide variety of personalities you’ll find the perfect match when making an informed well thought out decision.