This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a compensation if you make a purchase.
How to Find Your Dream Dog by Dixie Tenny
Bringing a new dog into the household should be one of life’s happiest events. The process always starts with excitement and high expectations. Too often, though, it ends in disappointment. The new puppy wakes everyone three times a night, gnaws on furniture, piddles everywhere, knocks the children down. The new adolescent dog is too wild. The new adult dog growls at your neighbors. And where did all this dog hair come from?
Most people spend hours researching a new mattress, days researching a new car, and weeks researching a new home or job. Yet for a new dog, a companion for the next 10-15 years, the most they do is visit the nearest shelter or pet shop and buy whatever looks cute and appealing. It’s no wonder they end up disappointed.
Whether you are looking for a purebred puppy or a charming mixed-breed, the type of dog you bring into your home matters. A quiet owner will struggle to keep up with a high-energy labrador mix, for instance, while an active outdoor family will be impatient with a snoozy bulldog. And finding the right kind of dog means becoming the right kind of owner—a task that takes some forethought and planning.
How To Find Your Dream Dog is here to fix the disconnect of dog ownership. It walks you step-by-step through the process of choosing the right type of dog for you—not only exploring the canine qualities that can determine your perfect puppy, adolescent, or adult dog, but also assessing your lifestyle to make sure you’re a good match for the dog, too. The book also looks at good (and bad) sources for finding healthy and sound pet dogs, gives guidelines for evaluating individual puppies, and warns of some red flags to watch out for during your dog search. With this guidebook in hand, you can be confident that the next puppy or dog you bring home will be the right companion and friend for you for the rest of its days.
Six Tips to Help You Choose the Right Shelter Dog
I asked the author this question: We always adopt our animals as rescues. How do you know you’ve found your dream dog when it may have been in a shelter for an extended period since its personality may not show through right away?
What a good question. A dog who has been moved from its home into a kennel, surrounded by strange people and barking dogs, will seldom relax and show its true personality. It might be shut down by fear. It might be amped up by all the noise and activity in a shelter. How can you tell if, once you get it home, this will be your dream dog?
Here are some tips to help:
1. Just the facts, ma’am. Review any history that the dog might have arrived with. Compare its former living situation with your own. Did it live with other dogs, cats, chickens, children, someone elderly or with a disability? Was it an indoor or outdoor dog? What you’re looking for here is, what was it used to? How similar is your living situation, or how different? This will give you a clue about how easy or difficult this dog’s adjustment into your home might be. BUT-
2. Buyer beware! Take any history reported from the previous owner with a grain of salt. Owners who turn their dogs in to rescues want them to find great homes – unfortunately that means they sometimes put an unrealistically good spin on an issue that caused problems in the dog’s original home. Does “loves people” mean the dog is calmly friendly to everyone, or that he jumps on people and drags the owner on leash toward strangers? Does “needs room to run” mean the dog will be happy with a nice fenced yard, or that she is an escape artist outdoors and destructive indoors? Does “loyal” mean loving toward her owner, or aggressive toward strangers? Don’t get me started on “partially housebroken.” AND-
3. A second grain of salt. Even an owner being completely straightforward might make generalizations from that dog’s previous life that may not apply in a future home. “Good with dogs” – a dog who lived peaceably with another dog doesn’t necessarily love ALL dogs. “Good with cats” – if puppy grew up with dog-savvy cat, now as a young adult dog he might react very differently to a new cat who runs away from him. “Good with children” – a dog who lived with preteens might find a toddler strange and scary.
4. Moving to a new home is stressful. Find out whether the dog you are considering has been bathed, groomed, or had its nails clipped since it arrived at the shelter. If so, how did it respond to that treatment? This is a good clue to how the dog will react to stress. A dog who tolerates this kind of handling by a stranger is a good candidate to handle the stress of changing homes gracefully.
5. Focus on behavior, not skills. Any dog of any age can learn to respond to training. A dog who already knows how to respond to sit or lie down, or to other training cues, is not necessarily a better prospect than a dog who has never been taught those things, but who is responsive to people, solicits the attention of humans, looks at humans with soft eyes… That dog will be easy and fun to train (using positive methods, of course!) If you find a sweet nature and training skills in place, you’re even luckier. But always choose sweet nature over training otherwise. The training can come later; the personality will never change.
6. Give her time. It commonly takes at least two weeks in a new home before dog is settled enough to show its true personality. Ideally adopt from a shelter or rescue that allows you a two-week trial period with your new dog. Begin as you mean to go on, be consistent with the rules, be kind and patient, and by the end of that trial period, you might be ready to say ‘yes, this is my dream dog.’
About the Author