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I've decided to get a dog, now what?

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your decision - living with a dog is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile experiences we know. That said, there is a lot to consider and we are here for you each and every step of the way! For starters, which breed is right for you, should you prepare for a puppy or would it be better to adopt an older dog in need of a new home?

When it comes to successful pet parenting, there are limitless questions to consider, but in keeping it simple, whether you go with a new puppy or adopt from a family, a rescue or a shelter, one thing is for certain, you will need to train your dog and we hope you will consider our Lifetime Unlimited Membership. In short, it includes all the help you will need, and we would absolutely love to part of your training journey - you can learn more HERE!


WHICH BREED IS BEST FOR ME?

Do you realize there are more than 165 recognized dog breeds in the United States today and over 330 worldwide? How will you choose which one suits your family best? Choosing a canine companion that fits your lifestyle is one of the most important early decisions you will make and there are limitless resources available today to help you learn how all of these breeds differentiate from one another. Ultimately your decision can bring you and your family so much joy for years to come.

As a helpful aide, answer the following questions below in order to help narrow your options and minimize your choices down to those breeds that are likely better suited for what you are looking for:

  1. What does your living space look like? Do you live in an apartment with limited space, have a home on a very large piece of land or something in between? ​

  2. Who are the people that live with you? Are there elderly, young children, adults only, teenagers? Keep in mind that some breeds do much better as compared to others when living with children. Likewise, some breeds are lap dogs and well-suited for life with the elderly vs. those that have an innate need to run and play.

  3. How active is your lifestyle? Do you take full advantage of the outdoors for exercise or are you more of a "let's go for a short stroll" kind of person? Perhaps, you may be "a nap sounds better" kind of individual. As you can likely begin to see, this is an important aspect to consider when picking a dog breed! Find one that matches your activity level.

  4. How much time do you plan spending on pet care daily? Can you brush your dog everyday or is it more likely to happen once a week - maybe never at all? Is it OK if your dog sheds or do you prefer the alternative and taking him in for haircuts? Likewise, larger dogs produce larger waste piles while smaller dogs, well you know. Think about that as you will be dealing with these consequences, one way or the other, multiple times a month and several times a day.

  5. How much money do you have to spend on your new puppy? As consideration, large breeds tend to eat a lot more, need larger bones, want more treats, require larger crates, prefer bigger pens, sleep on grander beds, etc. Smaller dogs on the contrary consume less food and space, which translates into smaller crates, pens and beds... aka, they generally cost less... Also, smaller breeds have a tendency of being more yappy. You can begin to see they each have their ups and downs, as well as pros and cons depending on your needs and expectations. This is why it is important to consider all these things with multiple considerations!

  6. Do you have a job in mind for your dog to do, such as: will he be a guard dog, a hunter, a herder, a service or therapy provider, a companionship expert or compete in shows? Try thinking of WHY you are getting a dog, what purpose do you want it to fill and then find a breed that is best positioned to do just that.

  7. Have you owned a dog before? Some breeds are easily trained while others do better with experienced dog owners.

Basically, our recommendation is you DO NOT simply purchase a puppy because it is cute - they will all be adorable - everywhere you look - but do your best to find a breed that compliments your lifestyle! As noted, there are several online resources available to help you find a breed suitable for your situation. Do your research well and will find that forever friend who will make for a healthy and happy canine companion throughout your forever future together!


SHOULD I PLAN FOR A PUPPY or ADOPT A DOG INSTEAD?


GREAT QUESTION and both options are important ones to consider! Please know this is one of the most hotly debated topics in dog ownership, filled with good perspectives from very passionate pet people on all sides, each with real sincere reasons to support their feelings. For example, considering shelters and rescues are oftentimes overcrowded with amazing canine companions simply waiting for their forever family to pick them up, we fully support visiting your local pet adoption option and seeing if the right dog is there for you. If however, you don't find what you have decided is best for your family, please spend some time really learning about who they are and what they do there. In fact, we also encourage you to choose to become involved with a periodic donation in order to help, and likewise look into signing up to as volunteers - your support in making a difference for good is always very much appreciated!


Similarly, over the past 10 years we have been super impressed with all that has evolved with puppy breeding and raising. In fact, these pet professionals are some of the most dedicated dog families we have ever met, getting up early, staying up late, and putting in countless hours to do everything they can to better their breeding and successfully prepare their pups for a life of healthiness and happiness. Obviously not all are created equal, but in doing your research, you will uncover the ones who are going above and beyond to do it right, and as a partner for life in your pet parenting adventure, they are well worth your consideration!


In short, we believe the decision of which dog is best for you, including the breed, size, temperament, needs and offerings, is the first decision you need to make, and once your really understand what canine companion is going to be the best fit for your family, than put in the right amount of time, energy and effort doing your research and finding your dog!


IF I GET A NEW PUPPY, WHICH BREEDER IS BEST?


Similar to the fact that not all dog breeds are the same, not all breeders are equal. There are several key factors to watch for in finding a good and responsible dog breeder, which can and will impact your overall experience.

Find a breeder that:

  1. is knowledgeable about their breed and can help you determine if your life and lifestyle are an ideal fit.

  2. asks questions about you and how your home is set up. Good breeders typically show added concerns for the families their puppies will be joining and where they will be living out their life.

  3. keeps the puppies in a clean living space. Make sure the living space is well-kept. Are the puppies living inside the breeder's home with them or outside in kennels? Naturally, it is a good idea to be aware of how they are currently living and consider what similarities, as well as differences there will be once they transition away from the breeder residence and into yours - verify a good match overall and what can be done to help your new puppy be comfortable throughout these changes. What's more, evaluate the space where the puppies are kept is clean and provides a separate sleeping area and potty space not only for health and hygiene, but also for fundamental habits that may already be established, which will either help or hinder your training!

  4. keeps their puppies until they are at least 8 weeks of age in order to give the puppies ample time with mom and litter mates, which facilitates healthy habits, better socialization and some beginnings of bite inhibition.

  5. keeps puppies current on immunizations and requires a spay or neuter contract.

  6. spends time with the puppies daily and introduces them to sights, sounds, smells, people and experiences that will set them up for future training success. Weeks 3-12 are a critical window in your puppy's life where he will learn to accept the world around him as positive. Much of that window is spent in the breeder's home so choose wisely. Likewise, ask what they have done on a daily basis to prepare your puppy for living in a "people" world. Good breeders will be so excited to share with you their process and the time and effort they have invested into preparing your puppy to have a happy and healthy life with you! It is hopeful before you bring your puppy home, he should already have met a wide variety of people. He should know what a vacuum, garage door, garbage disposal, furnace, doorbell and blow dryer sound like. See our "Master Socialization Chart" for other examples of experiences your puppy might have before he even leaves the breeder's home. The more positive experiences your breeder gave your puppy the better. Use the chart as a guideline when you talk to breeders. As way of another example, it is not too much to expect your puppy will have started housetraining, crate training, marker training and basic manners and obedience.

  7. wants the puppy back if for some reason you cannot keep it. This shows that they are concerned for the life of your puppy above and beyond making some money.

  8. provides you with references, which we recommend contacting at least three.

  9. you like. Basically, you want this breeder to become a new lifetime friend whom you can contact with questions, suggestions and or concerns. Find a breeder you get along with and feel comfortable around. In summary, it takes a community to raise a puppy and it starts with a great breeder!

Feel free to also provide your breeder with a copy of our recommended early start activities HERE!



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