So you’ve decided you want to get a dog. Maybe you saw the cutest puppies in the window of your local pet store just today, or maybe you have been thinking about it for some time. Either way, adding a dog to your family should be something that is carefully considered. If you impulsively take home that cute little puppy without doing a little research, you may find yourself regretting your decision later. There are many things to think about when you’re picking out your new furry friend. Not all dogs are created equal, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Puppy or Adult Dog
While those puppies in your local pet store might be irresistibly cute, taking a puppy home is entirely different than taking home a dog who is a little older. Everyone has heard stories of new dogs chewing up a favorite pair of shoes or relieving itself on an expensive couch. Puppies are much more likely to do these things than older dogs. Of course, it’s never a guarantee that an older dog won’t do those things, but it’s much less likely. Any dog, especially one who is left alone all day or doesn’t get an appropriate amount of exercise, can start chewing at any time. However, puppies are often not house-trained, which requires much more work than a dog that is already trained. New puppies also have much more energy than a dog that is even just one year old. They require lots of attention and care. This might sound as if I’m trying to persuade you that getting a puppy is a terrible idea, but I assure you that is not the case. Raising a puppy can be incredibly rewarding, but the top reason you will find puppies in animal shelters is because new owners are unprepared and have to give them away.
Shelter, Breeder, or Pet Store
Shelters have a bad reputation for having only dogs that are old, mean tempered, or bad. This is because animal shelters will take any dog that is brought to them for whatever reason, and why would someone give up a dog that is a great companion? The truth is that shelters have all kinds of dogs. If someone’s dog has an unexpected litter of puppies, they could give them to a shelter. If someone lost their home in this bad economy or became too old to care for their dog, the shelter would gladly find those dogs a new home, too. Dogs that are found as strays are sometimes runaways that are totally house-trained and really sweet pets. Don’t discount a shelter just because you want a specific type of dog. Shelters are getting new dogs in all the time from all sorts of places.
If you know you want a specific kind of dog, especially if you want the dog as a puppy, a breeder is a great way to go, though purchasing a dog from a breeder will be much more expensive than a shelter. If you have the funds and are set on a certain breed, getting your dog from a breeder is fine. Just be sure you find a reputable one. Good breeders will screen their dogs for health problems and temperament issues.
Many pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills. Puppy mills are terrible places to find dogs because they inbreed. They might mate a dog with its sister, for example, and that can create all sorts of health problems for their puppies later in life.
The most important research you can do before getting a dog is to look up information about the breed. The type of dog will determine more about its personality than anything else. Terriers, for example, are high-energy and mildly trainable. Beagles are great companions, but howl a lot. Larger dogs are gentle, but sometimes can be lazy. Whatever you do, research the breeds of dogs before you take your pet home. Knowing what you’re getting into is better than finding out after the fact.