Choosing a New Canine Companion for Your Household
While most of you reading this already have dogs, you may be considering getting another dog, either now or in the future. When first considering this, most people think in general terms: “I want… a big dog; or a dog that doesn’t shed; or a dog that needs little exercise”.
While these are valid questions, they are the tip of the iceberg. Whether you want a purebred dog or a mixed breed, a rescue or from a breeder, there are many more questions that you should ask yourself and your family prior to bringing home a new canine companion.
If you have a dog already at home, the first question to ask is, “does my dog need or want a sibling?” Some dogs simply don’t do well with other dogs at home, even if they enjoy playing with other dogs outside the home. If this is the case, you may find yourself with more problems than solutions. It’s also important to keep in mind that, similar to people, dogs have different personalities, and most cannot be expected to get along perfectly with every other dog they meet. (Do you know of any adult human who has never had an argument?) When considering another dog, consider your current dog’s personality. Is he pushy? Overly shy? Is she rambunctious and playful? Ideally, it’s a good idea to take your dog to meet the potential sibling in a neutral place to be sure they are going to be compatible.
Once you’ve decided on the ideal companion type for your current dog, ask yourself and your family the following:
- How much time do we have to spend with a new dog?
- Do we want an active dog or a sedate dog?
- What do we want to do with our dog? Dog sports? Family outings? Quiet time in front of the TV?
- Do we have space for an active dog? A small yard? Or do I want to run daily with my dog?
- What size of a dog do we have the space for at home?
Keep in mind that space and size are not always directly related. A large, quiet dog might easily live in an apartment, while a smaller, but highly active dog may need a much larger yard – unless someone will run with him regularly. And some homeowners associations and apartment complexes have size restrictions as well.
Additional considerations include the size of your family; ages of the children; how often you have visitors; the general activity level of the household; and other pets who may need to be considered, such as cats or other small animals. A high energy dog with a strong prey drive may not be a good choice if you have a cat, for instance.
Once you’ve decided on the size, activity level, and temperament of the dog you want, your work is not finished. Consider doing more research on your chosen breed(s) or mix. Google, talk to breeders and enthusiasts, go see them at shows and ask lots of questions.
Finally, the decision of whether to get a puppy or an adult dog is also important and there are advantages to each. With a puppy, you can start “from scratch”, training it up exactly as you want. With an adult dog, the potty training and destructiveness are often completed, but it may be difficult to know what he’s been through, and there may be some re-training required.
If you are considering a dog for dog sports, consider checking out our High Drive Dogs Listing Service. And check out your local shelters. The ideal sports dog often has a preference for humans over other dogs and takes direction easily. If the dog you are considering is in foster care, ask whether he or she is able to focus on tasks or whether he gets easily distracted by the environment.
Whether you choose a puppy or adult dog, do your research and consider carefully. Picking a dog or puppy because it’s really cute, or is the color you like, can have disastrous consequences if the temperament is not a good match for your family. Given the choice between looks and temperament, I will choose the right temperament every time, and I strongly recommend this tactic.