If you are trying to decide what kind of dog you need for your family’s new pet, you should have a clear idea of the kind of dog you are looking for. There are several factors you should consider when you make that decision.
Do you have children? How old are they? How many people are in your home? How much time can you devote to a dog? How much room do you have? How much energy do you have to spend with your dog?
While there are always exceptions, breed descriptions are usually reasonably accurate and they can make it easier for you to choose the right dog for your family.
If you are young, like to exercise, or if you have very active children, you may want to consider getting an active dog. It can be very disappointing to expect your dog to be active and then discover that he prefers to sleep in your living room all day.
In order to avoid this problem, look for an active breed that will fit your lifestyle. Labradors and Golden Retrievers are considered to be excellent family dogs for this reason. These dogs have fantastic temperaments, especially around kids, and they have lots of energy for play.
If you are looking for a smaller dog, look for a dog that is easy to control and train. Terriers are small and playful but some of them can be hard to train.
Smaller dogs are often a good choice if you live in an apartment. They can fit a smaller space without being intrusive or uncomfortable.
Most small dogs tend to have quite a bit of energy so a good temperament is very important. Some small dogs can have some temperament issues and may nip people, such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds so they are not usually recommended for children.
There are some small to medium-sized dogs that are good with families and children such as Cocker Spaniels and Beagles. These breeds have good temperaments and behave well.
If you are looking for a dog that is very loyal, smart, and has lots of energy, you may want to get a “working dog” that has been trained for hard work or labor. These dogs include sled dogs, herding dogs, and hunting dogs. They can make good pets because of their extreme loyalty.
However, working dogs are usually hardwired to work. They need work to be happy. Otherwise they can develop behavior problems. If you’re not able to provide enough exercise or work for the dog, then these dogs are not a good fit for most people. But, if you have plenty of room outdoors or work for these dogs, they do make good companions.
People often disagree about the relative intelligence of different breeds or how to measure dog intelligence, but there are ways to determine which dogs are and aren’t smart.
Poodles, Collies, and Retrievers are usually ranked right at the top of any list of smart dogs. Akitas, Shibas, and Shetland Sheepdogs are also rated as intelligent dogs. Differences will vary but smart dogs can be harder to train because they can be stubborn.
Keep in mind that these dogs are still dogs and they will respond to the same stimuli as other dogs, most of the time.
You don’t have to choose a dog that reflects your personality but it should fit your lifestyle, as well as your resources so you can take care of the dog.
If you don’t have time to take care of a dog that needs to be groomed every day, look for a dog with a short coat; or, if you don’t have time to walk a dog a couple of hours per day, look for a dog that doesn’t require as much exercise. Always consider how much time and attention you and your family have before you choose a dog.
If you think before you get a dog then your dog should be a happy family member for years.
About the Author: Karen Ratcliff is founder and trainer at Canine Connection in Chattanooga, TN. Karen is an accomplished Dog Trainer as well as a teacher. Call Karen with any questions you have about your dog!