Your Lifestyle Situation
In addition to your activity level, you need to consider the other people and commitments in your life, too. Are you single? Do you have kids? are You retired? These things should influence your breed decision. Listed below are six general lifestyle situations. You might not fit perfectly into any one category—just read them over and keep that thinking cap on!
Single. Free. No commitments. Few responsibilities. Except one—a new puppy. You’ll need to adjust your schedule around her. You’ll need to socialize with her, take her out to meet your friends. If you work outside the home, consider a calm breed who won’t need a five-mile run twice a day to be happy.
Think ahead…a long way ahead. Where will you be in five years? Ten? No pressure here, but do You think you’ll have kids? Think about a kid-friendly breed and take the time to familiarize her with kids while she’s a puppy.
Do you both work? Can one be home enough to care for the new four-legged baby? The more attention she gets, the better. Puppies hate to be alone! You’ll need lots of patience, tolerance, and perseverance. If you plan to have kids, puppies are great practice!
You’ll need to plan and share responsibilities. Someone needs to walk her, feed her, and socialize her. If you’re considering a family, avoid protective, guard, and fighting breeds unless you’re committed to early training and socialization with children and adults.
If you both work all day, consider a more independent breed. You’ll still be missed, but it won’t be totally traumatic.
Families with Children Younger Than Five
You already have puppies! Kids this small see puppies as playthings, so get a breed that can tolerate rough handling. I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s hard to teach a three-year-old not to pull and poke the puppy; it’s important to find an accepting breed.
You might want to consider an older puppy between four and twelve months old. If properly raised and socialized, an older pup will be calmer and less mouthy. Unless you’re an experienced owner, avoid guard, protection, and fighting breeds. They are less tolerant of visitors and children.
Families with Children Older Than Five
Kids over five can participate in a lot of puppy activities. Though you can’t expect them to do all the work, they can learn a lot about responsibility through feeding, basic health care, and walking. If your kids are pretty rough-and-tumble, you’ll need a breed that tolerates this. If your kids are past the rough-and-tumble stage (leaving for college, perhaps), you can consider many breeds.
Again I caution you against protection, guard, and fighting breeds unless you’re experienced and can make time in your schedule for extensive training. With doors flying open and kids running in and out, you want a kid-tested breed who can take it all in stride.
You made it! Congratulations. This is a great time to add a dog to your family! Your schedule is probably a bit more flexible and you can be very attentive to your new pup. But remember, a puppy can be as demanding as a baby, so if you already did the diaper changing/4:00 a.m. feeding thing and don’t care to repeat it, consider an older pup (between four and twelve months) who will have a head start on house training.
If your retirement plans call for quiet walks and introspection, investigate the calmer breeds. If you intend to spend your retirement hiking and cross-country skiing, choose a breed that will complement your energy level.
Households with Other Pets
Do you fit into one of the categories previously presented, but do you already have other pets? That will change the dynamics, especially if your other pet is a dog. Having a well-mannered dog to teach your new addition the ropes will make your life a lot easier.
On the other hand, if your resident dog is a nut case, perhaps you should consider a little training before bringing another dog into your home.
When To Consider an Older Dog
Though we’ll address the issue of choosing a young pup versus an older dog more in the next chapter, there are some major differences to note while you’re considering your lifestyle. Young pups often demand more time for training. They’re also more active and rambunctious than most grown dogs. Some dogs, however, act like oversized pups, so if you do decide to get an adult, make sure you get one who’s matured a bit!