Nancy Kerns: Hi! I am Nancy Kerns, Editor of The Whole Dog Journal. Today I am going to discuss how to select the right dog for your family. Most important is to be patient, take your time. The more urgency you bring to your dog finding mission the more likely it is that you will bring home a dog who is unsuitable for your home, family or lifestyle.
Next, you absolutely have to create a list of traits you want in your dog as well as the ones that would pose real difficultly for your family. Here is a list to consider.
First, do you have a preferred sex, male or female? Then consider size, if the person who is going to be walking the dog is small or frail, don't consider any dog who is going to be a burden to walk.
Also keep in mind that larger dogs cost more at every turn than small dogs do. Next, age. Do you really want a puppy or a dog who has passed most of the puppy problems? Remember, the younger the dog the more training and management he is going to need.
Don't forget energy level, if you want an easy going dog, you must absolutely not adopt a high energy individual. On the other end if you really want an active energetic dog don't fall for one who won't be able to keep up.
Interesting and comfort with people is another point to consider. A very highly social dog may become under stimulated and lonely in a quite house, whereas a shy dog or one who is uncomfortable with people may feel constantly threatened and defensive in a home with many family members and visitors.
Noise making is another important consideration. Barking is sort of a deal breaker for many owners, even though this is a normal canine behavior. If you or your neighbors are particularly sound-sensitive avoid individuals and breeds who are naturally barky.
Do you have other animals in the home, birds, cats, other dogs? What about livestock, such as chickens, goats or sheep, you don't want to bring a murderer into their midst.
Insist on a short trial period so you can assess the dog's suitability for a home with other animals. It might sound petty but it's also best to be realistic about the type of coat the dog has. If dog hair is an issue for your family, choose a breed with a clippable non-shedding coat or a dog with a very short thin coat.
Again, take your time, the perfect dog for your family is out there, don't rush the search and bring home a dog who is emotionally damaged or whose behavior is difficult. You want to set yourself and the dog up for a happy life together.