So many adorable dogs are out there, barking and wiggling to get your attention.
If only you could take them all home! Of course, you can’t. But you can pick the right dog for you by focusing on exactly what you want and need in a dog, and determining what kind of dog works best in your home and with your lifestyle.
The fact that animal shelters are full of dogs is proof that too many people buy dogs who aren’t right for them.
This post helps you make smart decisions about the issues involved in selecting a dog so that when you do choose yours, you’ll know you’ve considered all the factors.
Sure, you can listen to your heart, but let your brain have the final say.
Puppies Are Precious, but . . .
Just look at that fluffy ball of fuzz, those big innocent eyes, that madly wagging tail! Many people who want to adopt a dog are hoping to adopt a puppy, and that’s no surprise. Puppies can be practically irresistible.
Shelters have a much easier time placing puppies than they do older dogs. The downside,
however, is that many of these puppies wind up back at the shelter as soon as they hit that difficult adolescent period — when they’re big, rambunctious, and particularly challenging.
Before you insist on a puppy, take a good look at your options. Sometimes breed, size, or temperament is more important than a dog’s age.
A chubby,round, yellow Labrador Retriever puppy may be the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, but how will you feel when he grows to 75 pounds of explosive energy and knocks favorite knickknacks off your coffee table with his big tail?
Adopting a puppy and adopting an adult dog have distinct advantages and disadvantages, so consider the pros and cons of each before making a decision.
Pros and cons of adopting a puppy
They’re tiny, they’re cute, and they pull at your heartstrings with that ferocious little tug-of-war puppy growl. But do you really want to adopt a puppy?
The pros of puppy adoption include the following:
- Control over exactly when and how well the puppy is socialized and trained, so your puppy learns good behavior early
- An opportunity for you and your puppy to bond right from the beginning
- A fun, playful, adorable companion
- Short-lived high energy that often (but not always) mellows into mature adolescence in one to two years
- A longer amount of time together than if you adopt an older dog
The cons of puppy adoption can saddle you with this stuff:
- A pet with behaviors you don’t like, if you fail to control exactly how well the puppy is socialized and trained.
- The chore of house training your puppy, a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating task. If you aren’t consistent with your training, you’ll have puppy puddles and piles to clean up for what seems like forever.
- Chewed up, well, everything. Puppies need to chew . . . a lot. You must provide them with appropriate items to chew and keep things they are not allowed to chew out of reach. If you tend to leave your expensive shoes on your bedroom floor, a puppy may not be right for you.
- A seemingly inexhaustible need for more exercise and stimulation than most adult dogs. Puppies, by nature, are energetic.
- Ill-mannered behaviors. Granted, manners are all human, and puppy behaviors are entirely natural. Even so, in our human world, puppies have no manners whatsoever. They may nip fingers, jump on people, bark at everything, pull on the leash, pick on other pets, dig holes in your yard, try to escape the fence to play with the neighbors, and keep you up at night because they still want to play. You have to teach them everything.
- An uncertain adult appearance. If you adopt your puppy through a shelter or you choose a mixed breed, you can’t be sure of your puppy’s parents and you won’t know what the puppy will look like when it grows up. Many shelter puppies who look like purebreds grow up to look much different as adults.