Adoption decisions are usually emotional and many are “spur of the moment,” where you fall in love with a cute dog. You take it home and then over time you find out whether it was a good decision or not. A better approach is to take some time to clarify expectations with the household before you adopt your next dog. Remember, it is a decision that will last 12-16 years.
Size, hair coats, breed traits and behavior are extremely diverse in dogs. In fact, dogs are more diverse than any other animal. No one article can begin to address the diversity of our canine companions. Your personal choice and appeal play the largest role in the end. However, here are three things to consider in your criteria for adopting your next dog.
Size is important in the process, especially later if your adoption is a puppy. It is more than what breed you prefer, you should consider what size you can manage comfortably physically and in your home. All too often the puppy grows up and up and up. That puppy may become too large to manage, but by the time it is full grown you are attached. Questions such as, how much space do you have, how much time can you devote to walking or exercising a large dog? Do you want a small lap dog? Do you want strictly a house dog? Will your dog be traveling with you often? Do you have a fenced in yard that is escape proof? Are you physically able to restrain a larger more active dog? And can you afford to feed a large dog, which can cost much more than a toy or small breed dog?
All too often the reality in dealing with a large dog and what you had imagined erode over time due to the additional time and cost associated with large breeds. Limited space, time or resources may make it an unwise decision for the long term. Just as adopting a small toy breed when you have young children may not be practical or best for the dog. Select an adult size that is right for your family and lifestyle prior to adoption and your choice will sustain a long pet relationship.
While hair coat may not seem important, it will become a factor over time. Long haired dogs require more brushing and grooming. For some, brushing and grooming is enjoyable and a good way to bond with their pet. Others are too busy or do not enjoy the process. Left alone, many long haired dogs will become matted with tangled hair which can lead to infections of the skin under the matted hair. It can also lead to knots or tangles which can only be removed with sedation and professional grooming.
Many long haired dogs do need regular professional grooming and bathing which needs to be considered in your monthly budget for pet care. Other factors are shedding, which is a natural process for dogs, to shed old hair and replace with new hair. Regular brushing will help reduce unwanted hair around the house, but for some breeds, even short haired breeds, shedding is part of pet ownership. You simply need to factor it into your decision on which breed to adopt. Studies suggest that introducing pets to young children will diminish future allergies to pets. But remember, long haired dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis. And start them when they are young, so they will always accept grooming.
The energy level or activity level will vary by breeds. Some breeds are very inactive and prefer to lie around most of the day. Yet other breeds seem to be in constant motion. Some breeds require a lot of exercise; otherwise their highly active nature is directed towards more unpleasant activities that you will find are not conducive to your expectations or lifestyle. Without proper exercise to exert their energy they may turn to barking, jumping, digging, chewing or other destructive behaviors.
Size is not always a good indicator of activity levels, some small to medium breed dogs are quite active. Some breeds are not good for highly active families if they are inclined to include them in activities, such as jogging.
Of course you should make allowances that most all puppies require more activity than adults. But some breeds, seem to remain active right up to old age. Also, understand that chewing is natural and important. This is especially true for puppies as they mature and their temporary puppy teeth are replaced with permanent teeth. Chewing in addition to being important for healthy gums and teeth provides an outlet for excess energy and when bored.
A regular scheduled exercise period of playing fetch or long walks are good for highly active dogs with no physical impairments, such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. It allows them to anticipate and get rid of all that energy in productive ways that are good for them and for you. Studies have shown that walking a dog can be better for weight loss than other traditional weigh loss programs. Consider another dog, especially if you’re gone from the house for long periods during the day. Otherwise, dogs get easily bored and they turn to destructive behavior. A playmate can relieve the boredom and be an activity outlet in play.