What dog suits my lifestyle?
With so many dog breeds, where to start?
Now you have decided it’s time to welcome a dog into your life you will need to make a considered decision on which type to choose? Check out 'When is it the right time to get a dog?' article if you’re still thinking about owning a dog. There are so many different breeds out there nowadays, all with different looks and temperaments that maybe you need to start by ‘reducing down’ the possibilities. Think about where you live. Are you in a small flat? Or a larger house? Do you have a garden or outside space available? If not are you close to a park or green space for exercising your dog? These are all important questions to ask in the first instance. For more information read ‘Choosing your puppy’.
Certain large breeds would be totally unsuitable for a small home, such as Dobermans, German Shepherds, Weimaraner, Boxers, Setters or Irish Wolfhounds. However, they would love the space provided in a larger home and garden with also a couple of good walks a day and plenty of interaction with their owners. Ideal for some but if you can’t provide this then it’s sensible to choose a different breed.
Many dogs are happy in a moderate sized home, with a small garden and a couple of modest walks a day. These are easier to fit into a busy family life. Again, you need to do your research into the particular breeds but Labradors, Spaniels, Cockapoos, Bassett Hounds and Border Terriers are all medium sized dogs that are friendly natured and need just an hour+ exercise a day.
If you have limited space but still want a ‘doggie best friend’ a toy variety such as a Chihuahua, Toy Poodle or French Bulldog maybe the answer. These dogs are little but have big characters! They still need walking each day, but 30 minutes may be adequate alongside some play and lots of attention from their owners.
Other small dogs such as Dachshunds, Yorkshire Terriers and Jack Russells need a bit more exercise and mental stimulation being originally working dogs and having that need to keep busy.
Pet hair and dogs best for allergies.
Another consideration these days is pet hair. Some people have allergies and find that the new hybrid breeds such as Cockapoos and Labradoodles are the answer. These dogs are breeds that are crossed with Poodles which have low maintenance coats and shed very little hair. A useful fact for those with asthma and those who prefer a dog hair free home.
Can I leave my dog at home?
Owning a dog is a great pleasure and a responsibility which most dog owners take as part of the deal. When choosing your dog be honest with yourself about your ability to adapt your lifestyle to your new best friend. Yes, dogs too can be flexible and as long as they are with you they are generally happy. A lot of people work from home nowadays or take their dog out and about with them.
Can I leave my dog at home? If you are out all day working then no. If you have to leave your dog alone at home whilst you’re out at work you need to arrange for someone to break the time, such as a dog walker. Generally speaking, a dog shouldn’t be left for more than 4 hours, and a puppy much less (click here for more info on puppy time scales). They will need to go outside to relieve themselves and are usually restless after this time. Trouble starts when boredom sets in, such as chewing, barking and messing. Another good option if you have a busy working lifestyle is dog boarding or dog sitting. This service allows you to leave your dog with a professional who will care for it and walk it while you are away. Top tip, make sure your boarder is a professional and council registered. It is now the law for all dog boarding services to hold valid council licenses.
Working dogs especially need more mental stimulation than others, being genetically geared up to be active and busy. They are a delight to train as they are usually super intelligent too and they deserve owners with time, patience and commitment. Working dogs include: All gundogs, Springer Spaniels, Labradors, Retrievers, Setters and Vizslas, and Sheepdogs such as Border Collies.
Professional dog boarding.
Make sure your dog’s needs are met if you are ever away. Source a good dog boarder ready for that time. Recommendation or via a trusted professional service is the best way to find a kind and experienced boarder and certainly go around to meet them and see where your dog will be staying. Check their credentials and find out what other dogs they will be caring for when your dog is with them. A good dog boarder will welcome all your questions and keep you informed of your dog’s wellbeing.
8 considerations when choosing a dog breed.
Whatever breed of dog you’re thinking of owning, read up about them so that you can make an informed choice. Find out the characteristics of the breed:
Are they good family dogs or do they prefer a strong relationship with just one particular person? Are they docile or strong willed?
What size do they grow to?
What health issues can occur in the breed?
Are they ‘easy going’ or can they be a bit nervous in some situations?
Is the amount of shedding dog-hair something you need to consider?
How much exercise do they need? And can you provide it?
The costs involved, initial purchase, vet’s bills, insurance, food, equipment.
Will they get on with the other dogs/animals present?
Lots to think about but all part of the pleasure and preparation of welcoming your new best friend into your home. Bet you can’t wait!!