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How to Choose the Right Dog For You

With the holidays fast approaching, many people start to consider adding a new four legged member to their family.

Adding a new dog to your family can be an extremely exciting time! It can also be something that a lot of us do on impulse. Sometimes an impulse adoption can work out really well! My first one sure did! After a lot of hard work anyway…

The problem with impulse adoptions is that a lot of us focus on the wrong things and end up with a dog that doesn’t fit in well with our lives. My first adoption is a great example of this! On my eighteenth birthday my parents took me to the shelter to pick out my very first dog. I walked in with a list of qualities I was looking for in a dog:

  • Male, neutered

  • 3 years or older

  • Medium sized

  • Short haired

These were reasonable and logical qualities. They all flew out the window as soon as we walked into the shelter. I found a few pups that fit those qualities as we walked around the kennels and noted them down to meet later. But then I walked around the corner and locked eyes with the most adorable puppy I had ever seen. She was the absolute opposite of everything I was looking for, except short haired. I was powerless though, and for my first dog ever I walked out of the shelter with a 10 week old Australian Cattle Dog.

It sounds amazing and perfect right? Wrong. At first she got sick, which isn’t the fault of anyone really,

but once she was well it became pretty obvious that she was a poor fit for me. The energy level of a Cattle Dog is extremely high, especially one that young, and I was (and still am) very much a couch potato. Every time we played I would come away bleeding from her mouthiness, and she destroyed my stuff in record time! I did the best I could by her, but it definitely wasn’t what she needed. It took me restructuring my entire life and falling into a career of dog training to finally meet her needs and create the amazing dog that I now share my life with.

The moral of the story being that sometimes picking a pet with your gut can work out, but typically it takes a lot of work for that to happen. After working in multiple venues as a trainer, and working at a shelter, I have seen so many people with poorly matched dogs that it breaks my heart. So many of those dogs don’t turn out to be what their owners wanted. Those dogs typically turn out either returned to the shelter, or changing their owners lives forever.

So what can we do instead? How can we make sure that we end up sharing our home with the right kind of dog?

First, come up with a list of traits you want your dog to have. Focus on what you want to be able to do with them, instead of what you want them to look like, and try not to focus on breed. Do you want a dog that will hike with you? Do you want a dog that will just relax on the couch all day? How much time do you have to exercise your dog daily? How about training with them? Do you want a dog who is everyone’s best friend, or are you looking for more of a solo dog? Is there a size of dog you would prefer to share your home with? Think through all of these things and write out a list.

Then, when you have your list, start looking! Go to shelters and speak to the adoption and kennel staff. Listen to their recommendations. They know those dogs extremely well and will be able to point you in a direction that will be a good fit for you. Same with rescue groups. Reach out and let them know what you are looking for and listen to their recommendations. Let them tell you who will be the best fit for you.

That is the biggest piece of advice I have for you. Listen to the people who are with the dogs on a daily basis. They can absolutely help you find the right fit for you. And do your best not to fixate too much on the appearance and breed. Focus on personality to make sure that you end up with the absolute best fit for your home.

Are you unsure what type of dog will fit in best with your lifestyle? Good news, we can help! We love making sure that our clients are happy with the dogs in their home and are happy to help you with matchmaking services!

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