Choose the Right Dog for Your Family


A dog brings joy and companionship to nearly every family. But choose wisely!

By Tracy Leigh Ritts

 

How exciting it is for the whole family when you decide to bring home a new dog! As the day approaches, everyone eagerly anticipates welcoming the newest member of the household.

Making the decision has probably been the topic of conversation for days, with each family member weighing in on what breed to buy or adopt. It’s important to consider this carefully and let your head, not your heart, lead the way.

Dogs tend to bring out the best in most people, but the process of selecting a dog for your family may seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Consider the following questions when deciding on your family pet:

What is the activity level of your family? Some breeds of dogs thrive in active environments while others become nervous and jittery with too much excitement. If there’s a lot of activity in your house, be sure the breed you select will be comfortable with that.

Do you have young children? Smaller breeds are easily stepped on and can be injured or even killed accidentally. If you have young children, you’ll want to choose a hardier breed than a toy poodle or chihuahua, for example. These little guys might also snap in self defense, which is not something children understand.   

What is your daily routine? Is someone home all day or is the house empty during work and school hours? Breeds such as greyhounds require a lot of one-on-one attention to be happy, while other breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, are better able to adapt to changing environments.

Where do you live? If you live in an apartment, you’ll want to focus on dogs that don’t require a lot of running and outdoor exercise to be happy. Also, larger dogs don’t tend to do well in the confined space of an apartment. On the other hand, if you walk them regularly, often, and for good distances, they can do just fine. Small dogs can be barkers and so think of your neighbors when you choose a toy breed that you plan to leave alone.

What are your expectations? Are you looking for a watchdog, a sporting dog, a family companion, or a competition dog? Be sure the breed you select can fulfill the role you have planned for it, so both you and the dog aren’t disappointed.

Other Considerations – It’s important to remember that dogs require care, attention, and love. They soon outgrow their fuffy puppyhood and will only develop into a satisfactory adult with good training and supervision. If you won’t have much time for grooming, you’ll probably be happier with a short-haired dog as opposed to one with long hair.

Consult a veterinarian or respected dog trainer when you have narrowed your selection down to a few breeds. They’ll be able to advise you on behavior, medical conditions, and temperaments associated with the types of dogs you’re considering.

In the end, you want a pet that will fit in well with your family, so do your homework and educate yourself as much as possible. One place to check is the American Kennel Club’s website (www.akc.org) for a comprehensive list of breeds and other valuable information that will help you select the right four-legged family member.