Getting a new dog is an exciting adventure! There’s nothing quite like a wriggling happy little puppy to brighten your life; or coming home after a long day at work to be greeted by a wagging tail and unconditional love. Finding the dog that will be ideal for your family and your lifestyle is the key to making sure everyone will be happy and stay happy in your home.
The first place to start is figuring out which breed will suit your lifestyle best. Each breed has different traits, needs and personality attributes, and you want to understand how those things are going to work within your family unit. (For mixed breeds, research the combination of breeds.)
For example, you might think that a husky is exactly what you need, and if you live a really active lifestyle, you might be right. Husky’s are high energy dogs that need to run regularly. Without intense exercise, these highly intelligent dogs are going to get bored and very restless. When that happens they look to their environment for entertainment, which can lead to destroyed shoes, furniture and even walls. And that of course leads to very unhappy pooch parents.
If you’re not super active, you’ll want to consider lower energy breeds like pugs, mastiffs, shih tzus and so on. Some of these breeds are also a better choice if you live in an apartment or have limited living space.
Next up, you need to learn about the life stages of your dog and the way they communicate.
Sadly, the teenage stage is the time that most dogs get surrendered to shelters. That’s because this is the time when dogs start to act out a little, push their boundaries and develop selective hearing. Dogs move into a new developmental stage at this time, and they are seeing the world in a new way, which causes them to explore their independence with growing confidence.
We see so many pooch parents that are mind boggled because their perfectly well behaved puppy seemly was replaced with an unruly misbehaved dog.
This is where socialization and on-going training comes in. Dogs need to understand what is expected of them, and which normal dog behaviours are actually considered a problem in our human world. If you don’t teach them what to do, they have to try to figure it out on their own and that’s when the problems start.
With a puppy, get the socializing and training started right away. They might be young, but they will learn quickly. The earlier you teach your dog how to act appropriately in our human world, the easier it will be for them. There is a lot going on outside of your home that your pup hasn’t experienced, so the more you can get out and about, the less scary it’s going to be.
If you adopt an older dog, consider getting into a training class right away to get pointers on how to handle any existing problem behaviours and learn how you and your dog can build trust and confidence in each other. That will make it much easier to navigate the world together.
It is of the utmost importance to get a dog trainer who is experienced in positive training techniques. Dogs learn faster with these types of techniques and they are far less likely to develop reactive and fearful behaviours. We are very passionate about this topic and reward based dog training techniques are the only kind we use in our training programs at dogma. (If you’re not sure what to look for, read our blog 5 Things Bad Trainers Do.)
Once you put all these factors together – breed, lifestyle, socializing and training – you create the perfect combination to get the ideal dog for your family.
Again, we encourage you to be informed and sign up for our free Planned Puppyhood webinar. Just click here to register!