Adopting the right dog for your lifestyle is vital to a successful, long-lasting dog-human relationship. Too many dogs end up in shelters because their owners did not do their homework before picking out a pup. It is not fair to the dog nor to your family to get attached, only to discover that you’re incompatible.
Choosing a Dog to Fit Your Lifestyle
1. Evaluate your lifestyle and health needs
The first step in adopting the right dog for your lifestyle is, of course, defining your lifestyle! Take a few minutes to consider your average week. Write it down if it helps. Think about how active you are. Do you love to go for long hikes every weekend, or is a walk around the block once a week your idea of being active?
You should also think about your health needs. Is anyone in your family allergic to dogs? Can you physically handle training a super-strong pup to walk on a leash (remember, he’ll pull until he gets used to it)? Can you tolerate the noise from a particularly vocal breed?
2. Narrow your choices down to breed groups
Once you’ve come up with a good overview of your lifestyle and health needs, it’s time to narrow down your options of breed groups. For example, if your child has dog allergies, you’ll know that you need to choose from a list of hypoallergenic dogs for adoption.
If you lead a very active lifestyle, you’ll want to choose from the sporting or working group. If your idea of an exciting weekend is curling up with a good book on the sofa, you’ll want to look at couch potato dogs. The idea is to come up with a dog that fit your needs, not narrow it down to one specific breed.
3. Visit shelter and rescue websites to do your homework
I cannot visit a shelter without hysterically sobbing. My entire family has a rule, “Don’t take Nikki to a shelter, no matter how much she claims she can handle it.” If you’re like me, stick to looking at websites for your local shelters and rescues! Check out all the available dogs in your ideal category, then research their breeds before heading to the actual shelter.
If you can handle visiting shelters without trying to adopt every single dog there, then by all means, go ahead and do a little browsing. The key is to visit several rescues and make a list of potential pups before making your final decision.
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4. Hit pause before adopting
You’ve done your homework, researched available dogs, and you think you’ve found the perfect pooch for your family. Your next step is to head to the shelter and spend a little quality time with Fido. Try to bring along the whole family so you can see how the dog interacts with your kids.
It’s hard to bring the kids, though, because they can get attached very fast to a dog and will be heartbroken if you decide it’s not the dog, but it’s very important. I once found the dog of my dreams on a rescue website. We drove half an hour away to interact with her. I loved her so much, but she did not like my son. It broke my heart to say no to her, and I still think about her a decade later, but it was the right call.
After playing with your potential pet, it’s important to hit the “pause” button before signing the papers. Tell the rescue that you’re very interested, but you need to talk it over as a family. Go to lunch, take a walk, or just sit in your car and discuss. It’s easy to feel like you’ve found the perfect dog in the moment, only to get home and realize that you weren’t all really on the same page.
Talk about what you loved about the dog, as well as anything that you didn’t love. For example, you loved that she seemed so relaxed with your kids, but you didn’t love that she sheds like crazy. Ask yourself and your family if the pros outweigh the cons. Does your lifestyle allow you the time to dedicate to grooming? The patience to train her not to bark so much? If the answer is no, then it’s not fair to bring this dog home. If it’s yes, then head back in and sign the papers!
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5. Give your new dog time to adjust to your lifestyle
Even though you’ve done all your homework and found the perfect dog for your lifestyle, there’s still going to be an adjustment period. Don’t assume that you’ve made a mistake if she doesn’t act the way you expect her to within the first few days (or even weeks). She may be the most outgoing dog in the world, yet still spend that first week hiding behind your sofa!
It’s also best to adopt the right dog for the lifestyle you have versus the lifestyle you want. For example, if you’re a couch potato who wants to lead a more active lifestyle, don’t adopt a high-energy dog thinking it will force you to change! Instead, go with a dog that’s content to chill but also loves to explore. Basically, meet in the middle!
By doing your homework and taking your time, you’ll see that adopting the right dog for your lifestyle isn’t so challenging. Remember, it’s better to say no to the wrong dog than to say yes because you feel bad for him. In the long run, both you and the dog will be miserable. Do your research, and you’ll find the perfect pup for your family!
“Adopting the Right Dog for Your Lifestyle”
About the Author: Nicole is a writer and editor at DogVills.com, a site dedicated to helping both new and seasoned dog parents lead the very best lives possible with their canine companions. She’s a pet parent to two dogs- a Pharaoh Hound named Freya & a Pit/Lab mix named Mocha.
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