How to Pick a Dog That Fits Your Family
I Love Dogs
This might seem like a funny topic coming from me, but remember, I love peaceful! I also LOVE animals especially dogs. If our budget could afford it, I’d probably have 10 dogs. I can’t get enough of them. But I also know that getting a new dog (or any animal) can throw off the balance of a home if it’s not done correctly. I want every family to be able to pick a dog that fits their family without making everyone miserable in the process.
We have a very old black Labrador and a 7 year old English Mastiff. The lab is an indoor dog, but the mastiff, due to her excessive slobber, is an outdoor dog. Our daughter loves dogs that can cuddle, but unfortunately, a 90 pound lab and a 120 pound mastiff aren’t what we’d call “cuddle” dogs. So for her birthday in May, we are thinking of rescuing a smaller, older dog that can be indoor and be more of a lap dog.
Evaluate Your Family
The first key is to evaluate what kind of family or individual are you. Do you hike all the time? Does one of the adults go running every morning? Are you a super active family or more laid back? You want to find a dog with the same kind of “energy” as you. We are a pretty laid back family so we know we need a low energy dog. Getting a border collie that is high energy and needs a lot of running and walking would be a terrible fit for us. That’s why, currently, we have a low energy lab and mastiff. We take them on a 30 minute walk once a day, and they are exhausted. Getting a smaller dog that is older and low energy is going to be key for us.
What Kind of Dog You Want
Another thing to evaluate is why do you want a dog? Comfort? Fun? Protection? Companion? Different breeds are better at different things. Our mastiff is a guard dog, but she’s also a great family dog. My husband travels a decent amount, and I feel much safer with her as my security system than I would if we had an actual system. She hears anything before I do, and if something is questionable, she lets out a loud and semi-frightening bark. If someone were to come to our house at night, they’d think twice before coming into our yard. I definitely wouldn’t if I saw 120 pound dog with a deep bark staring me down. But what we love is that she’s safe! If we tell her it’s okay, she lets her guard down, and we feel 100% confident with her with our children.
Right now, we know we don’t need another guard dog. We need a smaller, low maintenance, non-barky, low energy indoor dog. We don’t mind if it’s older. I actually prefer that. Usually, they are lower energy, and I love the idea of giving older animals a good home at the end of their life especially if they’ve come from the shelter.
When we go to the shelter, I’ll look for a dog that doesn’t seem timid, but also isn’t too excited. I can easily train a dog to our family“norms” (even an older dog can be trained), but I don’t want to deal with a super hyper dog. It doesn’t fit our lifestyle right now. I’ve been around dogs enough that I can basically work with any type of dog, but I know what we need as a family right now, and that’s what I’ll look for.
I highly recommend shelter dogs. There are A LOT of dogs out there that don’t have good homes, and you can find a dog with the best personality even if it isn’t pure bred. I do understand though, there are times when a pure bred dog can be best. It’s just more rare than we think. If you know what you want and what will fit with your family, a shelter dog can be amazing.
A Dog That Matches Your Needs
The main thing to remember is to get a dog that matches your energy and your needs. If you have small children, I don’t think a puppy is best. Fun? Definitely. But puppies are a lot of work, and when you have small children, there’s often not time in the day to give them the training they need. Or I see people who aren’t regular exercisers or runners get a herding dog (collie, heeler, etc.), and I just cringe. Not only is that dog going to be miserable, but the owner will be too. A dog that is meant to run and work but isn’t given the opportunity to run and work, will make their owner miserable with all their pent up energy.
Don’t go off of looks or breed! Just because you LOVED watching a show with a certain breed of dog growing up, doesn’t mean that breed of dog fits with your lifestyle. Or just because a dog at the shelter looks “cute” doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you. Pay close attention to energy and breed characteristics. Be real with yourself. Evaluate what you truly need and what you can truly give. You will be so thankful that you found a dog that matches your family’s energy level rather than getting the dog that looks cool!