Whether you choose a puppy, adult dog, purebred or mixed breed, male or female, here’s a quick checklist to help you find the dog of your dreams:
- Make a list. Write down all the qualities of your favorite dog of all time, both good and bad.
- Rank these qualities in order of importance, from “must have” to “can’t stand.” This will help you narrow the field of choices.
- Think about what you want to do with your new dog. Will he or she primarily be a companion? Agility dog? Hiking partner? Spend some time envisioning what life with your new dog will be like, both indoors and out.
- Insist on good health. Regardless of where you acquire your dog, make health among your top priorities. Even the most beautiful, sweet, athletic-looking dog can be a heartbreaking and wallet-draining experience if his or her health is poor.
- Choose a breeder or rescue with care. Do your research before visiting the shelter or calling the breeder! After you’ve seen your potential new fur friend is not the time to be negotiating on issues such as temperament, health, and ethical breeding practices.
- Get expert help. When in doubt, ask a professional trainer or behavior consultant to accompany you to meet your new potential family member. A professional trainer can help you weed out unscrupulous breeders or rescuers and head off any potential behavior issues.