OK, you've decided to buy a dog. You know which ones you like the look of and you know whether you want a large or small one depending on the amount of space you have and how far your feeding budget will stretch.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
For most people, that’s about the extent of the research they do before entering into a lifetime commitment with a new member of the family.
If you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for a cute face or floppy ears, or whatever trait appeals to you, but just as with choosing a human companion – looks aren't everything.
Dogs, like humans, have different personalities and character traits and it’s important that we choose one that will fit into our family and our lifestyle.
Image courtesy of Bukowski18 - Flickr
I have to admit that I completely ignored my own advice when I chose my last dog. I had always loved the look of beagles and was drawn to a sweet-looking Lemon Beagle in my local pet store. Not wanting to risk her being sold to someone else, I made the impulsive decision to buy her right then and there. She was beautiful (and expensive!) I named her Maeby. Several people exclaimed their surprise at my choice of dog, warning me that she would be a challenge, but it was too late; I had made the decision and I would make the best of it.
Even taking into account that Maeby was only a puppy, I knew from pretty early on that she really was going to be a challenge. I was used to living a quiet lifestyle, but she was energetic, extremely inquisitive and quick to destroy everything in her path. No matter how much I exercised her and how many toys and distractions I gave her, she could never settle. By the time she was about eighteen months old I’d had enough. She was beautiful but she was definitely not the dog for me, so reluctantly I found a new home for her. I decided that my next dog would be a quiet one - and chosen with great care!
My Dog Charlie by Colmo
Then along came Charlie, rescued from the Animal Welfare League. Charlie is a mixed-breed of Australian terrier and something else that has yet to be identified. I knew the temperament of Australian terriers, having owned a couple in the past.
When I first met Charlie she was thin, scruffy and neglected – not the most attractive of dogs after having been removed from a home where she was badly abused. I was warned that she would need lots of gentle love and affection and that she would take a long time to feel confident with me. I knew as soon as I met her that she was the one for me.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Choosing the right dog for you has to be done with both the heart and the head. Do some research into different breeds and what their specific needs are. For example, if you have plenty of space and want a dog that will run and play for hours, consider a Setter or a Spaniel (or a Beagle!) For a quiet, low-energy dog that will be a companion for your children, maybe a Bulldog, a Shi Tzu, a Pug or a Labrador. If you suffer allergies you might prefer a breed with minimal shedding, like a Poodle, Maltese Terrier or Shar Pei.
Dogs are not just companions, most of us consider them members of our family, and family harmony relies on a blending of characters and personalities. Choose your dog as though you are adopting a new member for your family.