Choosing a Dog: Choose the Right Dog for a Lifetime of Love and Companionship

Okay, so you're thinking about choosing a dog. Choosing the right dog is the most important part of that decision. I remember when I finally made up my mind to adopt a dog. It's not that I didn't want a dog. I love dogs - more than a lot of people I know, for sure! But I had two kids and was working full time. There was just no way I could take on the care of another "child." You know how it is - your kids keep assuring you that if you'd only let them have a dog they'd take care of it. They'd walk it and feed it, brush it and play with it, and take it outside when it needed to go.

Yeah, yeah. I'd heard all of that. I just didn't believe it! You know your own children. Are they responsible? Do they have lots of other activities that will keep them from giving the dog the attention it needs? Will they really play with it and take it out when it needs to go? Are they old enough to assume responsibility for a pet? Or are you really going to be the main caregiver?

So choosing a dog is a big decision and if you've decide that you're ready, you have a lot to think about. Okay, of course you have to be willing to buy the food and pay for the grooming and veterinarian care, toys, and anything else that might come up. But are you prepared to do the day to day care giving if your children can't or won't?

Are You Prepared for a Dog?

You need to be prepared, not only physically, but "mentally" before choosing a dog. What I mean by being mentally prepared is knowing what I was getting myself into. You see, I wasn't ready for the commitment of having a dog when I worked full time, had two kids who weren't yet teenagers, and owned my own home that needed cleaning and constant yard work. Not to mention cooking, doing laundry, and running my kids to their many activities. There was just no way I could care for a dog. It wouldn't be fair to her, or me.

Then one day, I decided I just couldn't continue the way things were. I was away from home because of my job for ten to twelve hours a day. When I got home, I was exhausted but still needed to cook, help my kids with homework, or take them to practice - softball, soccer, basketball, depending on the time of year. Does that sound anything like your life? I bet it does if you're like most moms these days.

I quit my full-time job and started working from home. Wow, what a relief! But it did mean trading the stress of a challenging job for the stress of trying to make a living from home. Oh well, such is life for most of us. I couldn't complain. It enabled me to spend more time with my daughters and it was my first step in really considering choosing a dog.

It really wasn't a fully conscious decision. It was just a niggling thought in the back of my mind. What fun to have a dog! Choosing a dog - my very first as a grownup! I hadn't had one since early adulthood, before kids were in the picture.

Senior Dog

What type of dog should we choose? A puppy, (we really wanted a puppy). Maybe an adult dog, or maybe even a senior dog? A mixed-breed or purebred? Mixed for sure. Purebreds are more expensive and you have to find the right breeder. That's fine for some; it may be right for you. I believe in choosing a dog from a shelter or other type of pet adoption agency. But if you are set on a purebred you can find some that need adopting - you just need to be willing to wait a little longer. A big or little dog? I've always preferred big dogs. So many choices!

When choosing a dog you have to consider your living situation. Do you rent an apartment or a house? If you do, will your landlord even allow you to have a dog? If you own your home, does it have enough room? Is there an enclosed fence to keep your dog safe? Will he have enough room to exercise, or will you have to take him for a daily walk or to a park so he can run?

Large Breed Dog

Exercise is one of the biggest considerations when choosing a dog. A large breed dog may be a more active dog and will need more space to exercise. They need a place to run. If they don't get a chance to burn off some off their energy, they get bored. And when they're bored, they do things you won't like. Like chewing on things - furniture, clothing, chair legs, your child's favorite toy or stuffed animal - whatever they can get their mouth around.

Kids and Dogs

That's another thing when choosing a dog. Do you have children under twelve? They may not be physically able to help with some of the dog's needs. And there are certain breeds that are better with young children. Teach your children how to behave around a dog because kids and dogs do go together, but only under the right circumstances.

Small Breed Dogs

Even small breed dogs need exercise. In fact, they can be even more hyper! But it's much easier to exercise a small dog; you can play inside with him. If you live in a rainy or inclement weather area, you will need to take your dog, big or small, outside. Are you ready to walk your dog in rain, wind, sleet, and snow? Better get some good foul weather gear!

Family cat

In order to choose the best dog for you and your family, you can see that there are numerous things to consider. Do you have a cat? We do. (That's her above; isn't she cute?)! So when we stepped into the shelter looking for the right dog to adopt, we had to be sure that she would not bother our first-born!

Thinking about choosing a dog as we walked around the shelter, we found a couple dogs that we considered. (We saw an adorable puppy, but were talked out of it because he was going to be just a little too frisky for us). One was an eight-month old, very cute and very spirited multi-colored mixed breed male dog, about 50 pounds, named Charlie. The other was a two-and-a-half year old female Newfoundland and Lab mix, about 70 pounds, named Myra.

First we took Charlie out for a little stroll. He was rather excited - quite hyper, actually. The lady from the shelter asked if we had a cat. She said that we'd need to do a "cat scan." Hmm...isn't that a radiology procedure? Well, not in this instance. She took Charlie and us by the cat enclosure where many cats hung out on little scratching perches and cat beds. Well, Charlie got even more excited; he appeared to want to eat those kitties. That would not do at all. I wanted to keep my kitty.

When we went back to look at Myra, she put her paw through the little hole in the plexiglass, as if to say, "Take me, take me." (Coincidentally, that's what made me choose our cat, Nicki when I picked her out at the pound. She did the same thing, putting her tiny paw through the cage, as if asking to be chosen). So we took Myra for a walk. We did another "cat scan." Myra couldn't have cared less about all those cats. She paid them nearly no attention.

Yeah! We asked a few questions and spent some more time with Myra and made the decision to take her home that day. First we had to sign a dog adoption contract, saying that we would keep and care for her her entire life, that we would take her to a veterinarian and make sure she was healthy, that we owned our home and would be sure she got plenty of exercise. She had been micro chipped, as part of a great service provided by this particular shelter. Read more about why you should micro chip your dog at Dogs Gossip - Missing Dogs

A microchip is a small implant placed under the skin of a dog or other animal for identification purposes. The chips are about the size of a large grain of rice and are based on a passive RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. Microchips are becoming increasingly more common and many shelters and other animal welfare agencies are now providing them as part of the adoption. These chips allow your pet to be identified so they can be returned to you in case she is lost or stolen.

Choose the right dog by learning more about breed characteristics.

After filling out the paperwork and paying the fee, then buying a name tag, food, a bowl, a leash and collar we were ready to take Myra home. Except we didn't like her name. I asked the lady at the shelter if we could change her name and she told us it was perfectly acceptable; in fact, she recommended it. She said it was a way to make her our own. We already had a name picked out. Sydney. It was perfect.

Sydney has been with us for about two years now, and is a very important member of our family. We love her dearly. Well, most of us. Nicki was never too thrilled, and still they are not best friends, but they tolerate each other.

Medium and Large Breed Dogs

As you can see, once you've made the decision to adopt a dog, there is a lot to consider. Mixed, mutt, or purebred? Small dog, big dog, or a medium breed dog? And don't disregard a dog from the extra large dog breed category as they may be big, but are not necessarily harder to care for. Let's continue our journey to choosing a dog - just the right dog for you.

Dogs rule at Get tons of free canine stuff - dog breed information, dogs names, dog videos, dog supplies and so much more. Vote for Adopt the Right Dog on I Love! (opens in new window)

Return from Choosing a Dog to Adopt the Right Dog Homepage