So you want to get a dog…

So you want to get a dog…

Not including people who are allergic to or just generally don’t like dogs, there comes a time where nearly everyone thinks to themselves, “I’d really like to get a dog.” This is completely normal! There are some things to think about before you go through and act on that thought though. Firstly, take a look at your life and see where your dog would fit in that life. Do you work odd hours making it difficult to train, exercise, and bond with a new pet? Do you travel a lot or spend extended periods away from home which would cause your pet to be left alone or boarded for those extended times? Also, think of your finances really thoroughly. Getting a dog from a respectable shelter is a low-cost option when compared to getting a puppy or adult from a breeder, but there are still life long food, training, enrichment, and medical expenses which you will be responsible for. If your dog wakes you up in the night coughing and in pain, or if they start not walking on one leg and whining when they put pressure on it, will you be able to take them to the vet that moment? Will you be able to go in annually to get their check-ups, more frequently when they are puppies and elderly? If they develop a lifelong illness which would mean medication costs on a regular basis will you be able to cover them? If an accident were to occur could you cover surgery costs? Are you able to pay for a quality food, treats, training, and everything else involved in the day to day management of a pet?

If you’ve thought of these thoroughly, the next step is to think about what kind of dog would work best for you and your family. I’ve gone over a lot on this previously so I will not go in depth, but do look at a few key things. Your activity level, your families activity level, what space you live in, how patient you are, how long they’d be expected to stay home alone if at all, and other aspects of daily life are key to seeing what kind of dog you should get for your lifestyle. There is a vast difference in the activity level of a retired greyhound (short bursts of energy followed by lots of relaxing, great for apartments) and an 8 month old Springer Spaniel (high energy, ‘no off switch’ dog needing lots of running space and enrichment daily).

Do note, “Hybrid Vigor” in mixed breed dogs is a proven myth and mixed breeds are not by definition healthier than a purebred dog. What matters is a combination of genetics and how they are raised (in the way that the combination of nature & nurture affects humans).

The final step once you’ve gone through all of this and decided that a dog is still the right option for you and your family, and you’ve decided on a type of dog you would like to get, is to get to researching and try to find one who would then fit your family and what you’re looking for. If you’re a semi-active person with a lot of time on your hands to exercise and train and are not feeling a pull to any specific breed then by all means, go to a respectable shelter in your neighborhood and get a dog from them that you feel a connection with. If you’re the same type of person who really loves the Saluki, then get to searching and find a breeder who you can talk to about their program and get a deposit put down. Either way you are spending money to get a dog, so never let yourself be put down if you would like to get a dog from a breeder rather than a shelter, especially if you are looking for something specific like a rare breed or a dog to do a job for you.

In my mind, if you want something specific, you should also be willing to go wherever need be in order to get that. If the nearest breeder is not in your state but you love their program, then go get one of their dogs. This is a lifelong decision for you and your family and you should be proud to go to whatever lengths are needed to make sure the pet you get is one that will stay with you through your entire lives.

Make sure your home is all set with crate, training tools, food, treats, etc. by the time you will bring your pet home! Then just enjoy the new addition to your family! Take it slow with introductions to new people and things but definitely do get them exposed to as much as possible. Go slow, because if you don’t and they become overwhelmed then you could possibly ingrain a fear response with that item or type of person.

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