Photo by Alice Castro
Originally Posted On: 10 Tips to Choose the Perfect Dog as a First-Time Owner – Big Dog Little Adventures
Dogs are said to be man’s best companion, but having this furry animal as a pet is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Did you know that there are several factors you need to consider before settling on your choice of dog? Here are some of the things you should include in your decision-making process as a first-time owner.
Breed and temperament
There are several breeds of dogs to choose from, and each comes with a baseline temperament. Some breeds are friendly and outgoing, while others are aggressive. Your choice will depend on what you want from your dog. If you are looking for a companion, it is better to go with friendly and outgoing breeds. If you want a guard dog, select a breed that is aggressive and protective.
Other characteristics you should consider are energy and activity levels, intelligence, loyalty, sensitivity, and compatibility with other animals. You may get a general overview of temperaments of particular breeds through breeders or statistics on the internet. You may also decide to spend some time observing certain breeds to have a firsthand experience. Know that individual dogs may differ from the general temperament of their breed.
The next thing to consider is size. Dog breeds come in various sizes from cute and petite to huge and intimidating and everything else in between. Larger and more active dogs do need more space to move about and exercise. If you decide to go for bigger-sized dogs such as Retrievers, German Shepherds, or Great Danes, consider creating more living space within your home. An extension or remodel project may be just what you need, and if funds are tight, consider using homeowner loans. Choosing smaller dog breeds such as Maltese or Toy Poodles are best suited for smaller spaces. Note, however, that the size of the dog does not necessarily mean a less caring or gentle temperament.
Pets are expensive and you therefore have to be financially sound to take good care of your dog. No matter the choice of dog, there are basic expenses that you will have to cater for. They include but are not limited to; bedding, leash and collar, toys, food and treats, bowls for food and water, grooming supplies, occasional vaccinations and other healthcare-related expenses. In some cases, you may be required to pay for and have a license for a particular breed of dog. Also, note that larger dogs may require more frequent feeding and extra medical expenses. Be sure you can adequately cover all these expenses before settling on your choice.
Throughout a dog’s life cycle, their personality and temperament will typically change. So, the age of a dog you choose is quite significant. Young puppies need a lot of attention and training, while adolescent dogs tend to be more playful with unpredictable temperaments. Adult dogs are usually already house trained and are calmer in nature. Older dogs are less of a gamble as you will have a lot of information on their medical history and personality.
Grooming and shedding
Each breed of dog has its peculiar grooming and shedding needs; some shed more or need more grooming than others. Knowing these details will guide you in your choice. Be extra careful with your choice of a dog if you have dog hair allergies. In this case, choose a hypoallergenic dog breed.
Dog training is usually the deciding factor for most dog owners. Every breed has its difficulty when it comes to training. Since you are a first-time dog owner, you will likely be unable to train the dog yourself. Get a trainer to help you train your dog and commit time to be part of the process and bond with your dog. Some dog breeds such as Labradors, Boxers, Collies are easy to train while Basset Hounds, Dalmatians, and Beagles are pretty tough to train. Be sure to go with a trainer that employs the use of positive reinforcement methods.
One other major consideration you must factor into your choice of dog is your family. If you live alone, then that is not much of an issue. But if you have a family, you should consider how your family will interact with the dog. Young children and small dogs do not necessarily relate well. The children may see the dog as a toy and may cause them some harm inadvertently. Additionally, certain breeds of dogs are fiercely loyal and do not socialise well. If you have a large family or you have lots of people going and coming, that may become an issue. Ensure that the breed of dog you select will be compatible with your family and enjoy the love and companionship of your four-legged friend.
Dogs are affectionate, and you will have to make time to spend with them either bonding or playing. Make sure you can make time, no matter how tight your schedule may seem. Give them attention and take them on a walk or to the park. Some dog breeds are extremely playful and need to be taken out regularly. Studies have also shown that dogs can develop separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods of time, and their actions become erratic and unpredictable.
Dog breeds have different energy levels, and that should be something you should consider. Picking a dog that matches your activity levels is great, almost like having a workout partner. High-energy dogs will quickly wear you out if you are a low-energy person. In the same manner, an active owner will wear out a low-energy dog. Check your lifestyle and match it to a dog breed that has the same energy.
Lots of people love dogs (well at least most say they do) but you will discover that more and more dogs are being sent to shelters from homes. This is a travesty; loving dogs are sent to shelters because their owners could not keep up with commitments and expenses. Other reasons for sending dogs back to shelters include the fact that they have grown into full adults and are no longer the adorable puppies they used to be.
So, before you decide to get a dog, be certain of the conscious choice you are making of providing a home for the dog. Consider all these factors and choose the best companion for you and your family.