You might think that deciding whether to adopt a dog or not is the toughest part. However, wait till you get to the shelter! You’ll realize that it choosing a dog is harder. With so many little adorable four-legged fur-balls and puppy-eyes around, you just won’t know which one to take home! They come in so many shapes and sizes and each of them has one adorability factor or another and it can just get to be too much. It would be really unfair, incorrect actually, to say that one breed is better than the other, especially in a shelter, where any one of the dogs could be a treasure. What is actually of essence is to see which dog would be better for your specific situation, needs and limitations. Therefore, the following points might help:
1. Understand your limitations
Understanding your constraints as an owner is the first step. This is more important than deciding which dog looks cutest. Let’s say you live in a condo or an apartment, in which case you would want a dog that is small and can do without much daily exercise. If you have a large house with a backyard, then almost any breed will work fine. Think about your time commitments, the other members of the household, even your social life will decide which personality, breed, and size will work for you.
2. Learn about different breeds
The breed of the dog considerably influences his personality, behavioral traits, and physiology – and you need one that matches your considerations. Essentially there are two basic classifications: pure breeds and mixed breeds. Purebred dogs come from a family of same breeds and thus it is easier to know for sure what traits they will display and what their health might be like. With a mixed breed, the parental lineage could include just about any dog. These breeds tend to be genetically more sound, and often show very good health when cared for well. Also, you get the qualities of various dogs in one. Of course some people prefer pure breeds for the certain snob value they hold, but after all, it’s all about who wins your heart.
3. Visit the shelter
Once you have some idea about the different breeds, a visit to the shelter will prove beneficial. Now, a shelter is not exactly the best place for a dog, and most of the time the dog will not be himself. Therefore first impressions could be wrong. It is good to have an adoption counselor by your side as you walk through or a volunteer who might be able to give you a better insight into the dog’s personality and help you make a decision. Insist on spending some time alone with a few dogs that you might like and consider the following:
Age: A younger puppy is usually desired since it is easier to habituate a pup to your home and lifestyle. However, puppies also require some training – especially toilet training and general obedience training. Older dogs, on the other hand, are already trained by their owners which would be saving you some effort. However, they might also posses certain habits that don’t go down well with you and it’s hard to change that with older dogs. Decide depending on your lifestyle.
Size: Think if you want to be able to take your pet along often, in which case you need a smaller kind. However, if you have young kids, the smaller dogs are not the most appropriate. Again, check your breed characteristics.
Personality: Dogs are usually shy and quiet or assertive and active. If you like some peace and quiet, then a terrier who barks his head off at any new thing may not be for you. But if you like jogging, running around parks, or having active kids, then an active retriever will suit you just fine.
Social disposition: Depending on their past experiences with people, certain dogs are very picky about social interaction. They will just not let anyone but their owner touches them and could turn quite hostile if someone intrudes on their privacy. Therefore, try to find out a little about the dog’s background to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Most dogs, however, tend to be social and very friendly. Take a look at the dog’s history and discuss his general behavior with the counselor or volunteers and you will have an idea how good he is with people.
Usually, if a dog’s previous owners were unkind to him, or even violent, the dog might be untrusting of all people. Although such dogs deserve love and care as well, it’s up to you to decide if you are in a situation to provide it with the patience that it requires.
A dog will be your best friend for life!
A dog suited to your personality and lifestyle can bring you great joy and fun, and a wrong decision might bring you some inconveniences that shadow the happy parts. Although all dogs can be your best friends, this is going to be more like a live-in relationship; so you need to be very sure of your compatibility. Trust me, breaking up with your dog can be very painful.