How to find the right dog for you

In order to find a puppy or dog that’s right for you, think about your personality and what you feel owning a dog means. Your new dog should fit your lifestyle and be comfortable in your home. Answering a few simple questions will help you narrow the field and find your perfect companion.

What do you want from a dog?

Knowing what you expect from an adult dog will help you pick a breed and find the right puppy. Do you want a jogging buddy or a low-key companion? Do you want a protector for your home and family, a playmate for the kids? Are you interested in training for obedience and agility competitions, or would you be happy with a dog that’s simply obedient and loving? Also, consider what you DON’T want in a dog.

Physical Characteristics:

Purebred or Mixed Breed?

A purebred may be a better choice for first-time dog owners because there’s a greater chance you can predict the characteristics of the adult dog. But either type of dog can be an exceptional companion if you do your homework.

Big Dog or Small?

To find the right dog, consider your living conditions. A small apartment may not accommodate a large sporting dog that needs lots of exercise. Also, it can be expensive to feed a big dog and replace the collars and supplies he outgrows. If you’re choosing a family dog, larger animals may not be a good match for young children who could be knocked down accidentally.

Long Hair or Short?

Can you tolerate dog hair everywhere, or would you rather find a dog that sheds only infrequently. Dogs with longer coats need more maintenance than short-haired dogs. Keep in mind that some breeds have oily coats to protect them in the water, which can cause the characteristic dog smell.

Inside or Outside Dog?

Deciding where your pet will spend his time can help you find the right dog. A Chihuahua won’t survive a Minnesota winter if he’s kept outside, just as an Alaskan Malamute would be uncomfortable during an Arizona summer. If you elect to keep your dog outside, he’ll need just as much attention and training as one raised indoors in order to keep from feeling isolated.

Active or Sluggish?

Think of your own activity level. If want a dog to be a jogging partner or for hiking and other activities, a puppy from the sporting group may be right for you. Don’t base your decision on the activity level of the puppy, however. Some puppies from particular breeds become less active as they mature.

Male or Female?

This is a personal preference. Generally, male dogs are larger than females within a breed and can be more dominant, but this isn’t the case with every dog breed. The puppy aptitude test is a great way to predict an adult dog’s temperament, and knowledgeable dog breeders can tell you if there are differences between males and females in the breeds they deal with.

Mental Characteristics:

Social or Dedicated to You?

Consider whether you want a dog that’s sociable with everyone he meets or one that’s loyal to a single owner or family. This is particularly important if you’re choosing a family dog. You don’t want an overly protective animal in a house with lots of neighborhood kids coming and going.

Quick to Follow or Self-Sufficient?

Some dog breeds are easier to train than others. Generally, dogs in the herding and sporting breeds learn quickly while dogs bred to be independent in their work are more difficult to train. Consider how much effort you want to expend on training and what you hope to achieve.

This covers most of the questions you should consider to find the right dog to match your lifestyle and expectations. At least one or two dog breeds will fit your criteria. With a little research, you’ll be one step closer to adopting the perfect companion.

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