Choosing A Family Dog

I know several people who wanted a dog, visited an animal shelter, and had their heart strings tugged by a sad-eyed pup who ended up going home with them.  An impulse decision isn’t always a good one, especially if the dog ends up not being a good match for your family. 

Bryan Bailey is an animal behaviorist and author. He says the first question you need to ask yourself is, why do I want a dog?

"Do I want it to be a companion? Do I want it to be a working dog? Will it be living in my house, will it not be living in my house? Do I have children? A lot of things need to be taken into consideration, but number one why do I want a dog, and then number two I always advise, try to match the dog to your lifestyle," says Bailey. "If you’re an active person, active dog. Not so active, not so active dog."

Bailey says every dog wants a job to do. Some breeds have more aptitude for specific tasks than others. For instance, you wouldn’t ask a poodle to herd the cattle, you’d choose a border collie or other breed where herding is in its blood.

Also be aware of temperament, especially around children. Some breeds by nature tend to be either dominant or submissive. Bailey recommends a laid-back, submissive dog as a family pet.

"There’s a reason why children get bitten. They ignore the warning signs of these big dogs and they try to take toys out of the big dogs’ mouths, pull their ears, and hit them with their new light saber that they got at a Star Wars movie, and a lot these dogs repel. They go after them. They say back off, you’re not going to do that to me," he says. "So, we’ve got to have a dog that’s willing to take a little bit of Johnny’s abuse and not lash back out aggressively."

A good way to start researching dog breeds is by perusing the American Kennel Club’s website.

Find more tips on finding the right pooch for you 

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