If you have been thinking of getting a new family member, you either already know that you're going to get a Male Black French Bulldog Puppy that you will name Donut, or you are sitting on your couch with some Advil on the side from thinking too much: What breed should I look for? Male? Female? A puppy or a senior? A rescue dog or a pure-bred, registered puppy? A great dane or a chihuahua?
If you feel like you're going to throw a book out of the window, if you are overwhelmed by all the information, stop worrying too much and get a cat.
No, I'm kidding. If you want a dog but are unsure about how to proceed, then let me make it very simple for you and break it down into these 3 essential categories:
1- Your House
Do you live in a detached house with a yard or in a bachelor apartment? Size does matter and I wouldn't suggest you get a Bernese Mountain Dog if you're crammed into a 300 square feet apartment.
Do you have neighbors that live a wall away from you? Some dogs have separation anxiety and are therefore not the best option for apartment-living as they can get extremely noisy when you're gone. The last thing you want is to come back home and find a note from bylaw on your door.
If you do not have a specific breed in mind, why not browse through your local rescue organization websites? A rescue dog that lives in foster care is a great option for people that want to know exactly what they're getting into as the foster would have already spent some time with the pup to know what he or she is like. Bonus points for saving a life!
Some giant breeds such as the great dane, however, can do well in an apartment as they are big couch potatoes. Before you decide to go down that path though, please do consider the dog's personality (does he like to run around the house?), age (seniors might do better in an apartment) and needs.
2- Your Lifestyle
Are you a couch potato? A runner? A hiker? A traveler? A swimmer?
Your lifestyle will have an impact on your dog and it is therefore important that you choose the right companion for you.
I'm a couch potato in the winter (don't judge me, I live in Canada) but like to go out in the summer. I also like to travel and a small dog with low energy was the right fit for me. A rescue - even better, and about 4 years ago, fate brought Benji and I together when I was browsing through Pet Finder.
Chihuahuas are great cuddle bugs who will form a very special bond with their owner. They are small and therefore great for traveling together. They do not need a whole lot of exercise and quite frankly, prefer to be carried around in a purse - or in your arms.
Remember, however, that because your dog is a certain breed does not mean that these typical stereotypes apply to him or her. Chihuahuas are known for being snappy and not too affectionate with strangers, but that doesn't mean that all of them are. They could also love to walk long distances with you, such as Pancho from Nic and Pancho.
If you are a swimmer and spend a lot of time at the cottage by the lake, maybe a labrador would be a good fit.
A runner? Maybe a greyhound.
Love to play fetch with your dog? Cocker spaniels and beagles have a lot of energy and are very playful dogs that would love to spend hours at the park with you.
Do you have the patience and means necessary to train a puppy?
Have you thought about getting a male or a female?
Males can mark but females go into heat and it is up to you to find a solution that will work for both yourself and your dog.
Keep in mind that by contacting rescues and staying in touch with them, they can keep your file so that once a dog that matches your needs comes into care, you will be the first to know!
3- Your Purpose
Why are you getting a dog?
Do you simply want a furry friend to keep you company?
A dog you can take to dog shows?
Participate in agility competitions together?
A therapy dog?
Depending on what you are looking for and what you want to achieve, you will need to make the right decision according to that.
All in all, the most important thing that I would like to communicate through this post is that no matter what dog you choose, whether it be a pure-bred dalmatian, a rescued mutt, a hyper puppy that will not let you sleep for days or a sweet senior, a dog is a FOREVER friend that just wants to spend his entire life by your side.