7 Essential Tips For Picking a Family Dog

By JR Rich

You've decided that it's time for your family to get that dog that everyone has been clamoring for. Maybe you've done a little research - looked at a few web sites - but you're still not sure.

Picking a family dog is an important decision in the life of most every family. Every member has his or her own visions of what the Perfect Dog should be. But, personal preferences aside, there are 'reality-check' questions that must be dealt with first.

What sort of companion are you looking for? What size is best? What breed?

Before you pack everyone into the van and head over to the mall, ask yourself these 7 questions:

-- Time

Do you and your family actually have the time necessary to care for a new puppy? If both adults are working all day (and sometimes, well into the night), will the dog be left alone for long stretches? Dogs are social animals and, like many people, can get very lonely if left by themselves. And, when dogs get lonely, they can get very destructive!

-- Location

Do you live in an apartment? Or do you have a nice house in the suburbs? You don't want a Mastiff if you live on the third floor in a one-bedroom "Efficiency" apartment! Dogs need exercise and, the larger they are, the more room they need.

-- Maintenance Costs

Can you afford it? When picking a family dog, you have to consider what the animal will cost. Not just the purchase price from the breeder but ALL the costs. You'll have food (A large breed can eat five pounds of food per day!), Vet bills, vaccinations, registration, dog crate, grooming, insurance and more. Make sure that you're ready for these additional costs.

-- Destruction Potential

This falls right in line with maintenance costs - if your new puppy decides to become destructive, replacement of clothes, shoes, furniture and carpets can get very large indeed! To keep destruction to a minimum, seriously consider that you will need to devote the time necessary to properly train the puppy.

-- Which Breed

Large or small? Long-haired or short? Frisky or calm? You'll want to pick a breed that's suitable to your home size and your family's temperament. Large dogs need lots of room and exercise. Small dogs are happy anywhere.

-- Where to Buy

Pet store, neighbor or professional breeder? This one is easy! Always go to a professional breeder. Pet stores are generally manned by hourly workers who couldn't care less about their charges!

Getting a dog from your neighbor or friend is probably unwise. You don't know about any vaccinations the dog has had and diseases can be common in an unprofessional household.

The professional breeder, on the other hand, knows how to care for pups, knows how to properly breed their dogs, and can point you in the right 'selection direction'! Definitely go with a professional dog breeder!

-- Family Involvement

When picking a family dog, it should go without saying - "Involve The Family!" Make sure that everyone has a buy-in to the final decision.

Dole out responsibilities according to each members' capabilities, desires and agreement. For example, the son can take care of making sure the water dish is clean and full. The daughter can measure out the daily food. Mom might take on the bathing. Dad supervises (just kidding!)

When everyone has a part to play, the daily maintenance routine will be a lot more fun!

This list is not "All-Encompassing" by any means. There will be seemingly endless questions. However, this 'quick-list' will get you started.

The most important point to remember when picking a family dog is to get the entire family involved. Have everyone 'buy-in' to the questions above - making sure that the individual responsibilities are agreed to beforehand. A "Letter of Agreement", signed by each family member will help everyone remember the part(s) they agreed to play.

After all, this decision isn't really about just choosing a dog - it's about adding a new member to your family!

JR Rich, after years of 'babysitting' email servers as a Dept of Energy email Postmaster, now embraces his first love - Dogs! He is the author and creator of the Website: Puppy-Training-Made-Easy.com.