There are so many things to consider when you decide on adopting a dog. Big or small? Energetic or Docile? Fully Grown or Puppy? Do you really want a dog or do you just like the idea of having a dog? Keeping a few things in mind and just a little bit of research will lead you to the best possible candidate.
I guess the primary question to ask here is have you met you? It’s going to be a shot in the dark with a distinct probability of failure if you can’t answer that question, and I’m not talking about the sensitive new age sort of way, just a basic version of the question. Are you active? Let’s be honest and not victimize ourselves with overly wishful thinking. Other than being chased, how many times have you run five miles on your own? If the answer is less than 5 within the past year and you’re looking to have a puppy change that, then you’re putting way too much pressure on your new bestie. If you want a dog to help get you in shape and you hate exercise, then you’re probably going into this with the wrong mindset. Sporting group dogs such as Heelers, Shepherds, Catahoulas and Border Collies are bred to be energetic and highly intelligent. In short, they need a job and need exercise every day. Yup, that’s in bold and italics. If that’s not your bag, I guess you could buy a ranch or something. If neither are a possibility, a Sporting class dog may not be your best option. You’re going to come home and find that your border collie has had your couch for lunch because it needed something to do.
It is a dog’s natural instinct to challenge authority. It’s what they do. It doesn’t make them bad, they’re just wired that way. That said, Terriers are renowned for this characteristic. As a personal recommendation, if you’re a first time dog owner I’d bypass Terriers as a group entirely… little dog, big handful. Someone must take the reins and if you’re not going to do it, they will. Let me qualify this statement by saying that I am whole-heartedly a dog person. I have one and if I could take her everywhere I went, I would. That said, I have conversations with my dog, some of them ongoing, about how “I am the boss, applesauce.” When she can learn to drive a stick shift and keep me rolling in treats, we’ll revisit this, but until that day comes, we’re just going to have to cozy on up this being the way things are. I am the boss and what I say goes. With a terrier, don’t be surprised if you have this conversation multiple times a day.
Every breed has its idiosyncrasies, and this goes beyond just behavioral. Many breeds have health issues that are indicative of the breed. This often occurs when a specific breed becomes popular and the dogs are over bred to keep up with demand. These traits can greatly affect the health of your dog. Some of these congenital defects are hip dysplasia, heart murmurs and deafness. Read up on the breeds that interest you. At Manchaca Road Animal Hospital we screen for specific genetic problems identified in certain breeds.
What is it you want this dog to do? Just because that Pomeranian looked really cute on that TV show doesn’t mean that you should go out and get one to hook up to your dogsled. No, of course not. It’s ludicrous, the very idea…and for that matter, who has a dogsled in Austin? You’d just look foolish. And since this is Central Texas, which technically can be considered a tropical zone with this heat and humidity, getting a Husky, Chow, Great Pyrenees or any other long haired breed and keeping them as an outside dog is straight up cruel. If you disagree with me, try this… Put on a fur coat and then hang out outside all day in August and then let’s see if you’re whistling a different tune, or whistling at all for that matter, I guess it could go right along that ridiculous dogsled that you seem to be so proud of. In short, get a dog that suits your purpose.
Please also consider that there is no dog like a rescue dog. I have one and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She is loving and appreciative of everything she has. It might just be me, but I firmly believe that a dog who is rescued knows the coldness of a shelter cage and will appreciate a warm bed more than any other dog.
Ok let’s skip ahead a few months. Let’s say you’ve gotten a dog and it just isn’t working out. You gave it a shot and it’s just a bad fit. That’s okay, but now it’s time do the responsible thing and place it in a loving home since it can’t have yours. There are many rescue organizations that can help you, some of them breed specific, Austin has two rescue organizations dedicated entirely to Dachshunds. I’ve seen too many outlandish errors in judgment when people adopt the dog in the first place, and then they end their nightmare by dumping it somewhere. It’s a dog. It’s reliant on you. If you aren’t prepared to be responsible from beginning to end, please do not get a dog. Borrow one. Walk a friend’s. Go to a petting zoo. Perhaps you could put on a sweater and hug yourself. If you like the idea of getting a dog, that’s one thing, if you’re ready for a dog, that’s another.
One more thing here, dogs develop their own individual personalities and the more time you spend with them, the more that will come out. They are individual little beings and they have their own quirky little ways of doing things. The key here is to find one that will synch up to your own quirky little way of doing things. In order to do that, know what you’re about and select a dog accordingly. Good luck! Remember to contact us at Manchaca Road Animal Hospital after you select your new companion so we can meet your pet and give it a thorough veterinary examination.