So you've decided to get a dog. What a great time you're going to have! Now let's make sure you choose the right one.
It's really easy to get swayed by a pretty face when you choose a puppy or dog. You might see a breed you really like the look of only to get him home and realise he doesn't suit your lifestyle at all. Unfortunately, that's one of the reasons a lot of dogs end up in rescue centres.
Before you make the decision, put those gorgeous looks to one side and seriously ask yourself the following questions:
How long will he be left alone every day?
Will he get on with your children and other family members?
Will he get on well with any other pets you may have?
How much exercise will he need?
Do you have the time/energy/inclination to give him the exercise he'll need?
Does he have any health issues inherent to his breed?
Do you have the money for vet's bills, insurance, dog walker etc?
If you work on the above list as a good starting point and answer honestly, you're definitely on the right track. If you do your research into different breeds and their physical and emotional needs before you decide, you'll be prepared for most issues that might crop up.
The other question is: breeder or rescue? This is a tough one. A lot of people think if they buy a puppy from a breeder, that dog will be loving, issue free and easy to train; a blank slate for you and your family to nurture into the dog you want. Unfortunately, these days a lot of puppies come from unscrupulous breeders, especially with popular designer dogs. These breeders don't worry about health issues and breed for money, so any health issues which their parents might have are passed down. As well, they don't worry too much about socialisation and sometimes take puppies away from their mothers far too early, meaning that you may find you've bought a frightened, unsocialised puppy which has all sorts of emotional issues. Make sure you research the breeder, if you decide to go that way. Make sure you meet the parents and don't be fobbed off - a lot of puppy farms will make up stories about where the parents are and why you can't meet them but a good breeder will let you see at least the mother and you'll be able to see what sort of health and temperament she has.
Don't buy from a pet shop. A good breeder will give you support that you won't get anywhere
Rescue dogs are becoming a lot more popular in the UK. The old belief that all rescues come with big issues isn't necessarily true. Dogs of all kinds come through rescue centres, both in the UK and in European countries such as Romania, Spain and Greece. Some are in centres because of their owner's ill health or death, or because they don't fit in with a certain lifestyle. Sometimes it's financial, sometimes it's a puppy that isn't quite what the owner wanted. There are lovely dogs in rescues, from puppies to elderly statesmen, and they all have one thing in common: they want someone to love them, the same as any other dog. Don't discount rescue dogs because you think they're all aggressive and damaged in some way. You'll need to visit a few times before you choose but this is an important part of the process. And you get to save a life. How wonderful is that?
The main thing is to choose a dog which will fit your lifestyle. And then enjoy them. Because that's what it's all about.