Selecting Your Dog

Dog Selection Criteria

Adorable Is Not Criteria

Responsible dog ownership starts with your

decision to bring a dog home.

Making these decisions should start first with your research on the breed before you put in your application!  This also where a qualified, reputable, well-researched breeder or a breed specific rescue can aid you significantly.   They will know the history of the breed, the typical behaviors of the breed -- and also what they see in the specific dog you are considering from their program.

Your decision should never begin with "Oh how cute!" or "OMG he's GORGEOUS".    It also should never begin with "I feel so sorry for him".

It should begin with "Is this breed right for my lifestyle NOW and what my lifestyle will be in 5, 10 or 15 years!"    Your decision should be based on can you give the dog the financial support it needs to be healthy, well-trained, groomed, boarded during vacation or emergencies.   Are you prepared to address his training needs now and if some life-changing event takes places that creates a new problem for him.   Are you prepared to blame yourself if he eats your couch because you weren't supervising?

As you begin to think about adding a puppy or dog to your family, there are many things you should consider.  It's much more important to choose the right pet than to pick one that steals your heart just because he's cute.  Do your homework!  He may not be the perfect match for you.

It is far better for you to figure that out before you take him home, creating yet an other upheaval to this dog's life!   Dogs do have emotional needs and transitions are difficult for many dogs... You could be a contributing factor to a new behavioral issue by creating stress in this dog's life.

What you should consider as dog selection criteria:

Breed Characteristics:   Each breed has a unique purpose in life other than to be cute and adorable companions.   Some dogs will need a "job".   They have natural instincts and characteristics that may differ between breeds.    They don't call it "Working Class" for nothing.   They don't call them Terriers because they are cute.  Do you know what your dog's breed was created to do?  It's likely to be an ever present instinct and some dogs may demonstrate it far more than others depending on breeding and up bringing.

General Temperament:   Within the breeds there are natural temperaments that present.  Certainly, genetics, environment, training, nurturing, etc can all affect how a dog behaves in his day to day life.

Exercise Needs:   Does the breed you are considering need to run and have significant daily exercise to stay healthy and ward off boredom, or is the breed that is happy to have a short burst of energy and then lounge on the couch all day?   If your goal is to run daily with the dog, are you choosing a breed built for that?

Training Needs:   Again, we believe that ALL dogs need training.   They don't come into the world knowing how to live in our homes.   Many factors influence their behavior.   Some dogs in rescue programs require more than others.   Some dogs, even if you purchased them from the best breeder in the country can develop issues with behavior.  You must be prepared to learn how to train your dog, and seek professional help when necessary.

Training doesn't have to be hard or overly time consuming.   There is an abundance of affordable, even free training information available.   You just have to put in a bit of effort.

Health Issues:   Do you know the common medical issues with your breed?   Can you afford it financially if your Dane is diagnosed with Wobblers?  If your Doxie hurts his back?   If your Golden has Hip Displaysia?  Or your best bud blows out a knee?  Are you prepared if your dog develops an illness or injury that requires financial support?

Size When Grown:  Puppies are adorable... but they grow!   Some breeds grow really big!  Especially in the shelter or all-breed rescue programs, they may not always know what the "mix breed" really is.  So don't be surprised your cute and cuddly little puppy grows up to be a very big dog!

Average Life Span  -- no matter how long we have our dogs, it's never long enough.  But some dogs will have a very long lifespan of 10-15 years.... or more!   Getting a dog today, means you're preparing to love and care for him for his life.

Does your home and family "fit" the dog's needs.  When choosing a dog in a rescue foster program, they can guide you to a dog that will be best matched to your family and the needs of the dog.   It may not be the one you found the most striking in his profile picture.   Some dogs in rescue will have issues with kids, with cats, or come with medical issues.   The application process is designed to do match-making!   So please don't be offended when they direct you to a dog that seems better suited to your family, than the dog that was the most flashy or cute in his pictures.

What happens if:    You get married, have a baby or move,  get divorced.   These are NOT reasons to give your dog to the shelter or rescue!   As you think about adding a furry friend to your family -- prepare him right now, and every day forward to be a healthy, well-balanced dog that can transition with your life changes.  What happens if you lose your job?  What happens if you become sick and physically unable to care for your dog- do you have a plan for care for your dog?   Will he be trained and socialized well enough for someone else to handle or to cope with changes in his life.

Chances are if you take him to the shelter for any of the above issues -- he will never make it out.  It's just the facts.  So make your decision today with the end in mind, and think about the future.

If you cannot make a commitment for life, consider fostering instead.   Even then, fostering should be a commitment until adopted.   If you can't do that --  get a pet rock.

The K9 Coach offers pet selection assistance, temperament testing, shelter/rescue evaluations, pack introduction assistance, 1st time Dog Owner Consultations, and more.

Dana Brigman