Having a qualified trainer help you select the right dog for you can save you from years of frustration. A certified trainer will also be very helpful in selecting a reputable breeder. Many of my clients will tell you that they would have rather paid a professional when selecting their puppy, in an effort to avoid some of the problems we’re now addressing. If you decide to go this route be sure to look for a dog trainer that has a Certified Professional Dog Trainer license. If you’re not local to me, you can find CPDTs at the link provided.
Don’t be fooled into believing your breeder is reputable or that it is not that important to find a reputable breeder. Even if the person you’re dealing with seems like a super nice person and they are asking for a lot of money, it doesn’t mean they are a responsible breeder or are breeding dogs that should be breed. Some dog lines shouldn’t be breed because many unwanted behavioral issues are genetically passed on. This doesn’t mean the behaviors are immutable, but it does mean that you will have to spend more money and time working with a trainer. The number one way to find a reputable breeder is to get a referral, but don’t stop there. One or two referrals do not take the place of your own research. Some breeders are just puppy mills in disguise. Dogs from puppy mills often have severe behavioral and health problems due to the poor conditions in which they were raised. Here’s a great one page article from The Humane Society that gives lots of great information on how to select a reputable breeder. Please note: The AKC does NOT vet breeders, they only list them! A sad truth I confirmed when I called and asked them this question. I know it doesn’t appear this way from their website, so please call them and ask them yourself if you’re skeptical of what I’m sharing with you.
This quiz is a decent start, but not perfect. The key is that you do some research and understand that breeds are vastly different. If your gone all day and don’t like to exercise outside, getting a German Shepherd could be a catastrophic mistake. I can’t tell you the number of people that have done this and then called me for training to stop barking, lunging, and destruction, all caused (in my professional opinion) by a lack of socialization and exercise. There is no quick or easy fix to this situation so choose your breed wisely. It’s one of the most important decisions you can make. Some breeds are more susceptible to medical problems, barking, aggression, allergies, etc.
Okay this guide is exhaustive and will take you some time to get through, but statistics show that the guide works and has reduced the number of dogs returned to shelters because it helps to look past the cuteness factor and adopt based on compatibility, much like a dating service.
This is one of the most import questions you must ask yourself. Puppies are the cutest things on the planet, but they are an immense amount of work. Honestly, I think I would take time off work if I were adopting a puppy. You have to let them out every couple of hours, even in the middle of the night, clean up messes, puppy proof your home and commit time to train and socialize your pup. That’s if all goes right!
An adult dog on the other hand has already learned many of the skills you like and with an adult dog you can get a better sense of the dog’s temperament and if it’s a good fit for your family and home. Adult dogs are often last to be adopted too, so consider giving these older dogs a second chance. Here’s a nice article that will help you consider all the factors to consider when deciding between a puppy and an adult.
If you decide to go the puppy route, keep this in mind; puppies have a critical learning and socialization period between 8 – 12 weeks, some say 8 – 16 weeks. This is the time in a dog’s life where it’s curiosity outweighs it’s fear. It’s a very small window of time. Missing this window will almost certainly cause problems for you down the road. Unfortunately, 90% of my clients call me when the window is closed because of problem behaviors they’re fed up with. Yes, you can still train your dog after 16 weeks, but it might be a slog instead of a breeze.
I used to think a purebred dog was the way to go, but there is no evidence that going this route will make you happier, or that the dog will be smarter or healthier. Also, keep in mind that there are millions of dogs (usually of a mixed breed) being euthanized at shelters, approximately 400,000/year. If you still want a certain breed look into rescue shelters that focus on specific breeds first. It will be much cheaper and you will be saving a dog’s life.
If you think you need to adopt a certain breed because of it’s specific characteristics, keep in mind that each dog is an individual and they display different characteristics and temperaments even within the same breed. Also good to know, some of the most popular breeds like German Shepherds and Huskies are classified as herding or working dogs by the AKC. Think, endless amounts of energy! Know the history of the breed you’re considering.
I encourage all prospective dog owners to hire a trainer or behaviorist to help them select a dog with a temperament that matches their family and lifestyle. If you choose wisely up front, you will likely have less problems and frustration down the road. You can find certified trainers and behaviorists at CCPDT.org.
Many of us become so excited about brining home a new puppy or dog that we fail to take into account all that is involved in actually caring for a dog. I’m guilty of this mistake too, so no judgement from me – we’re here to help not judge! We think of our relationship with a new dog we envision beautiful walks, playing fetch, cuddle time and the like, but it’s important to have a clear and complete picture of what to expect. The number one way you can show your dog you love them is to understand the responsibilities involved in caring for it, and making sure you’re properly prepared ahead of time. Not being prepared can quickly tarnish your vision of dog ownership, cause resentment, and lead to dissatisfaction in your relationship with your dog.
There are many aspects of ownership to take into account, but the two most important are breed selection and training and socialization. If you love relaxing when you get home from a long day of work then a husky or shepherd would not be a wise choice for you. These dogs fall into the AKC breed classification of Working and Herding dogs, respectively. They’ve been bred for hundreds of years to run…all day. So if you’re heart is set on one of these two breeds, you should have a good plan in place for how you can deplete their energy level, or they’ll do it for themselves while you’re at work; this often manifests in the form of home remodeling.
The primary reason dogs are turned into shelters is because of a lack of training and socialization. Shelters are filled with dogs that have potty training, socialization and obedience issues. (1) More than half of these dogs will be euthanized. (2) Most dogs can be trained to behave in a manner that we humans desire, but it takes time, money and patience.
The column to the right contains a checklist that will help you make sure you’re ready for the exciting and wonderful experience of dog ownership.