How to find the perfect dog that fits your lifestyle

Choosing a dog can be a stressful process. There are so many different breeds available that it can be difficult to know what dog will fit in well with your lifestyle.

Here are some suggestions for breeds that might be suitable. However, you should always do thorough research into a particular breed before making a commitment to a dog.

“I’m an active person who loves the outdoors and spends lots of time walking.”

If you lead an active life then a high-energy dog such as a Collie, Dalmatian, or Spaniel may be suitable. These are larger dogs that require lots of walking and activity to tire them out. If you are looking for something smaller, Jack Russell Terriers also love to walk.

“I’m an elderly person looking for a companion dog.”

Smaller “toy” breeds such as Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers are usually lovely companion dogs that will be happy to potter about your house for most of the day and spend lots of time having cuddles on your lap. They ideally still need to be walked every day, but a short stroll around the block should be plenty.

Rather than purchasing a puppy, which will require lots of training and probably have more energy than you would want, have a look around your local rescue center (or on their website) to see if they have any smaller dogs. Quite often rescue centers have older dogs that would be suited to a quiet lifestyle.

“I have young children and want a suitable family dog.”

Bringing a dog into your home when you have young children can be a nervous time. There are some breeds which are better suited to life with young children than others. These include Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Bulldogs, and Newfoundlands.

Typically, larger dogs are best suited to young children as the child cannot pick them up (which could alarm or injure the dog). Larger dogs are typically less likely to “snap” at tiny fingers if they are frustrated, scared or annoyed.

“We’ve never had a dog before.”

You need to seriously think about the level of commitment you feel you are ready to give. If you are not familiar with living with and owning dogs, a new puppy might be a bit too much, unless you are fully committed to giving it the training and socialization that it needs.

It would be a good idea to visit your local rescue and find a dog that is a few years old and already has all of his basic training, to help ease you gently into the wonderful life of owning a dog.

“I have a house with a small garden.”

A small garden doesn’t necessarily have to limit the type of dog that is suitable for you. If you are willing to take the dog on several walks a day, then this should provide enough exercise to compensate for having a small garden that a larger dog can’t really run around in.

However, a small garden could mean that a small dog would be most suitable. Papillon, Shih Tzus, Maltese, Corgis, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Dachshunds, Pugs – the list of small dogs is endless.

“I want a dog I can teach lots of tricks.”

There are certain breeds that are considered more intelligent than others, such as Collies, Poodles and German Shepherds. However, if you are patient enough and repeat the actions enough times, any dog can be susceptible to learning tricks. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is not true. Just be prepared to spend lots of time with your dog and give them lots of encouragement along the way.

“I don’t want to have to toilet train a puppy.”

Toilet training can be frustrating, especially with very young puppies. Getting an older dog from a rescue center can reduce this training. However, you should anticipate having to do at least a small level of toilet training for any new dog you bring in to the house, as they need to learn where your garden is, and where they are “allowed” to “go”, which can take a little bit of time.

“I’m at work all day so the dog will be left on his own.”

Some full time workers employ dog walkers who come in during the day to take their dog out for a long walk. This helps to break up the period of loneliness for the dog. Alternatively, “doggie day care” could be an option. Note that many day cares will not accept unneutered dogs.

If neither of these are an option for you, you might want to reconsider getting a dog. It isn’t fair to leave any dog alone all day, every day. If you are desperate to have a doggie relationship in your life, consider volunteering for your local dog rescue in the evenings or weekends – that way you can still enjoy wonderful walks and engagement with dogs, without having the commitment of owning one.

So, what dog should I get?

Ultimately, the decision of what breed of dog is suitable for you and your family comes down to your specific circumstances. You alone know what level of exercise and commitment you can give to a dog, and what size dog would suit your home environment.

Whether that’s a puppy or an adult dog, a Chihuahua or a Rottweiler, we wish you all the best in the search for your perfect canine companion!

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