Sirius Training, Serious Fun!
Sirius Training, Serious Fun!

Finding Fido that Fits Your Family…pt1

Alright… I’ve written and deleted about ten attempts of a post about choosing the right dog for your family.  I give up.  I’m just going to go for it in short little sections–what I end up with will probably not be perfect, exactly how I want it worded, or complete.  But since I think this is a very important topic, I’m willing to tolerate something short of perfection to hopefully help people think about the choices they make when it comes to adding a dog to the family.

So, over the next week, I will be composing posts around the topic of choosing the right dog for your family.  I hope to have each post well organized around an umbrella theme/idea/question–but I’m making no promises LOL!

Not surprisingly, this topic has been inspired by real-life events.  I don’t know if my observations have simply been exacerbated by the frigid weather of late (making outdoor exercise difficult and dogs that much more over the top) or if the inspirations have just been that particularly bothersome, but recently I’ve been concerned about some “matches” and selections of a dog.

Adding a dog to the family is a very large decision and deserves careful thought and consideration (Christmas puppies–blog post).  It should not be an impulsive decision–it troubles me that many people spend more time considering what to name their new puppy than actually considering the implications of simply getting a one.  Adding a dog is a life-changing choice and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly or downplayed.

So you’ve taken the time to thoroughly think about adding a dog to your family and have decided it’s the right decision–now what type of dog is right for your family?  There are hundreds of recognized breeds that can be found from reputable breeders along with a nearly infinite number of breed mixes in shelters and rescues.    The process shouldn’t be about looking at breeds and finding one you like, but instead thinking about what you are looking for in a dog and then looking for a breed or type of dog that fits the basic needs. Then take it a step further to find an individual of that breed or a shelter dog that best fits your needs/wants.

When I think about matching dogs there are four “big” concepts that should be considered…

Temperament–In your current lifestyle would a dog who is somewhat aloof be difficult to handle?  Do you want a dog to be friendly with everyone and everything once you give them the okay?  How would you feel if your dog ignored you to go greet strangers at the park?

Activity Level–Being really honest with yourself will save you a lot of stress, frustration, and anger.  If you honestly are not an active person and don’t foresee yourself suddenly taking up jogging then a working breed is probably not the best choice.

Looks–Not all aspects of ‘look’ are important but things like size, coat length, or coat type are important things to think about.

Purpose–Why are you getting this dog?  What do you want from having a dog?  Are you looking for a laid back companion to come home to?  Are you looking to get involved in dog sports like agility, frisbee, flyball, herding, etc?  Want a hunting partner (if so what type of game)?  Were you inspired to do therapy-dog work while visiting a nursing home?  Or are you just looking for a nice family dog?

This week I’ll be exploring these big ideas and exposing the finer points in selecting the right dog for a given situation.

5 Comments
  1. I’ve attempted this topic myself, over Christmas last. Yes, a very complex and, I think, evolving one. Our need for a dog, and type of, changes as our own situation does. I’ve unfortunately been caught out this way myself.

    I look forward to the posts 🙂

  2. Not an easy subject by far. Besides, I have learned that even one’s reasons for getting a dog may change as one discovers more about exactly what dog ownership is. I had no idea it could be so all-encompassing, for example. If I had chosen a different, easier dog, I may not be as passionate a trainer as I am now. I don’t know if any dog will be a perfect fit – but one should question their willingness to change in order to make it perfectly imperfect. Does that make sense or am I just exhausted?

  3. I understand what you meant, Kristine. Or at least my version of it. I chose Maisy purely on looks, but holy crap, can you blame me? She was adorable, but a total impulse buy. I was in for a steep, steep learning curve, and while we have successfully managed that, it has required huge changes in my life. I was willing to make those changes, but I have the luxury of enough time and money to do so- as well as the inclination.

  4. Hugely important topic, and off to a fine start with this post. I’m stinging a bit from an adoption that didn’t work out for a client I counseled in January. I’ll be grateful for the opportunity to examine some of my own thoughts, assumptions and blind spots. Thanks for taking this on.

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