Below are questions to ask yourself, your family, a rescue group and perhaps a breeder.
Are you thinking about getting a dog? Please think long and hard. This is a serious decision. I’ve seen countless people get dogs only to get rid of them because they have a false understanding of what is required and didn’t do their due diligence and research. Worse yet, people get dogs and never meet their dog’s requisites, thus neglecting them.
Bringing a dog into your family is a 15+ year commitment and requires making sacrifices. Sure, many people have dogs, horses and human children; that’s quite easy to do. But, rearing them the proper way, being responsible and addressing their individual needs requires quite a bit of effort and shifting of perspective. Raising a dog now a days is extremely different than 30+ years ago. The complexion of our lives has changed and in turn it has dramatically altered the dynamics of a dog’s life. If you had a dog growing up and are contemplating getting a dog now as an adult, please recognize that it is not going to be how you recollect that experience in your childhood.
Before you go looking to get a dog, take a good long look at yourself, your current lifestyle and family. This is a life-long commitment. Dogs don’t volunteer to be adopted, bought or rescued. They’re more like draftees. They are living breathing beings that have emotions just like you and me. Allow dogs to be dog, don’t suppress their canine behaviors, embrace them! Be prepared to provide mental and physical stimulation in perpetuity. We have our busy lives, and dogs depend on us to provide them with a rich and exciting life. Getting a dog is our decision and we owe it to them to them to do what’s right and be responsible. If we chose to do so, the journey is magical.
Deciding on what type, breed, mix of dog is critical, too. For instance, the Husky looks striking, but are you the type of person that is ready to work with a dog that is generally sound sensitive and vocal? If you’re not an active person but are looking to bring a large breed dog or sporting dog into your home, think long and hard about that one. This is a complete mismatch of dog and human. A decision that’s often made rooted in unrealistic expectations, for the wrong reasons and is selfish.
Are you vacillating between a puppy or an older dog? Just like us humans, they all come with different challenges. Most people are very unprepared for the firestorm that comes with having a puppy. Although there is a fairly blank slate with a pup, there is also a myriad of behaviors that will absolutely disrupt and turn your home and world upside down for quite some time. Older dogs have so much to offer and you circuitously avoid many of the puppy trials and tribulations.
Additional questions to ponder
Are you a neat freak? Are you thinking that the dog you get will only stay in a couple of rooms in your home and the rest of the time you will keep him/her outside? Think long and hard. Dogs are one of the most social animals, Canis lupus familiaris. Isolation distress is sadly a common issue that dogs struggle with because people expect dogs to be there for them only when it’s convenient for them, while not considering the dog’s innate needs. Entering into this should be a sacred contract.
Most behavior issues are dog guardian induced. In other words, people inadvertently create misbehaviors in dogs because they think they know better. They don’t. That’s why it’s imperative to work with an expert that will facilitate learning and to guide you and your soon to be dog. Due a lot of homework. People spend more time researching a car or skin care than they do a dog.
If you have children are they over 8 years of age? Any younger, you should wait.
Are you getting a dog because your child or spouse wants one? If you aren’t on board, don’t do it.
Are you committed to dog training, behavior modification, overall wellness?
Do you have a loud, active, busy house? If you do that will impact the type of dog you look for.
Are you willing to spend a good deal of money on healthy food, vet appointments and the like?
Are you committed to taking your dog on daily leash walks for 30+ mins?
Are you aware that household cleaners and lawn care are often chemicals and neurotoxins to dog?
Are you willing to leave the party early or not go at all so that your dog is not left alone for long?
Do you have arrangements to have your dog looked after if/when you go away?
Are you willing to go the extra mile to help your dog get behavioral and/or medical attention?
Are you prepared to let your dog pass peacefully when he/she has finished their purpose on earth?
If after reading this you’ve paused to contemplate getting a dog, that’s a good thing, for the dog. Maybe consider getting a cat – they’re super easy!
“You must remain responsible, forever, for what you have tamed” – Antoine de Saint Exupery
Questions for rescue, shelter or breeder:
How long have they been doing rescue or breeding? Should be over 5 years
If a breeder, how many litters do they typically have / year?
If a breeder, how many females do they have?
If a breeder, how old is the dam and sire they are breeding?
If a breeder, what area are they active in – show circuit, agility, nose work, etc.?
If a breeder, are they a natural rearing breeder? If not, they should be http://www.naturalrearing.com
What do they feed the mother?
What food will they feed pup when weening?
What age do they relinquish pups? Should be 10 weeks
What number in the litter was pup?
Do they do bio sensor exercises? If so what exactly?
Do they do temperament testing? If so what tests?
What types of socialization are they doing? How when and where?
Can you see the mom and observe her? Does she present healthy, vibrant, happy, is she calm w/ pups?
Is mom and litter inside, outside, what is set up?
Are there young children in the home? If not, how do they socialize dogs to them?
What preliminary training do they do in regards to supporting house training?
If a breeder – Can you meet both parents? If not why?
If a breeder you will need a copy of the parents OFA papers – certification that clears parents orthopedically
If a breeder you will need a copy of the parents cardiac and retina papers
Breeder or Rescue – Are they willing to take the dog back regardless of the situation?
If anyone is unable to answer, put off or dodging these questions, they are not suitable, and move on.
Observe the dog
Are they alert, happy, curious, clean eyes and nose? Free of offensive odor and parasites?
An energetic pup may require just as much work as a scared one – depends on your willingness.