So you think you found your dream dog? Before you decide if it’s love at first sight, remember it takes much more than providing a heart and a home to that 4-legged dream boat. Most likely you are a dog lover, most people are. Although, when offering a dog a happy and healthy life with you, there is so much more to consider than just simply being your companion.

When you are bringing home a creature who will love you, honor you in sickness and in health until death do you part, the least we can do is take the time to find the right fit! Sometimes people put more thought into what’s for dinner for the week, than they do what breed of dog will suit them best for potentially the next 15 years. Follow these 5 steps and you will be bound to create a lifelong, irreplaceable bond.

1. Know Your Breed

Scientists and researchers determine dogs came to be somewhere between 16,000 and 30,000 years ago. Geeze. That’s a hot minute. Sometime along the years, people forgot that dogs were once bred for a reason, and that has not changed. Retrievers want to retrieve and will most likely steal your socks. Border Collies will relish in rallying up the kids and chasing them when they run because they are bred to herd. You can pretty much expect a Husky to pull on the leash and have a lot to howl about since technically they are sled pullers on a mission. Knowing your breed and researching the breed ancestry will help you keep your patience pants on. You really want to know your dog’s hardwired characteristics.

2. History

Knowing the history and heritage of your dream dog is important, although that information is not always available. Most especially with rescue, shelter or foster dogs. Whenever possible, it’s best to teach puppies during the optimal learning time which is typically between 7 and 16 weeks of age. If a dog is acquired after that time, you are going to be “untraining” what someone else or the environment has already taught that dog, knowingly or unknowingly. Dogs are counting on us to find them safe and sound homes, so it’s up to us to fully research how dogs think and learn. With adoption dogs, you’ll need to consider the time after the optimal learning time that you’ll be adding to their history. Otherwise, if you purchase from a breeder, it’s up to you to know hereditarily and what you are getting yourself into so you’re better prepared.

3. #makelearningfun

When you dream of your family growing one day with a baby (human) or puppy, the rules should always apply. Manners! Manners! Manners! I hope to goodness the whole idea of professional (or nonprofessional) training for that matter as being cruel is long over. Most likely parents wouldn’t think they were coming on too strong when teaching their child how to say please and thank you. Teaching dogs should be no different. #makelearningfun

4. Establish Safety and Control

Many times when dogs don’t feel safe they will put themselves in a position of hierarchy to gain control and keep things in order in their dog mind. If the dog sees the human parent as the figure in the family (the pack) who is in position to keep things under control and safe, than the dog (in most cases) won’t put themselves in that role. This in turn, reduces barking, guarding, territorial type behavior problems. Making sure that the pet parent is viewed as the safe place or person, will also reduce many behavior problems such as leash pulling, jumping up and chewing. A dog won’t take the job of top dog if the position isn’t available.

A dog won’t take the job of top dog if the position isn’t available.

5. Bark ‘N’ Burn

What are your exercise plans? Indoor activities because you live in an apartment? Do you have limited mobility? Are you a busy college student? Whatever your lifestyle, you must come up with a plan to expose your dog to the environment and increase their heart rate daily with a walk or some type of exercise. No exceptions. Really doesn’t matter the breed, all dogs need and want to get out of the house if they are exposed properly. Exercise and socialization is critical to a dog’s overall well being and happiness.

Making sure your dream dog is happy and healthy. Isn’t that really what’s it all about? I know it is for me.


About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.

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