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Should I Get a Dog? And What Type of Dog Should I Get?

Stephanie Dube Dwilson
dad mom and young son petting golden retrieve laying on bed

Thinking about adopting a new furry friend? Congratulations! You're about to embark on a beautiful journey of love and adventure. Of course, your next step is to decide what kind of pet you should get. You might find yourself wondering, "What kind of pet is right for me?"

It all depends on your lifestyle and personality. For many people, the right choice is a dog, which then leaves them wondering what type of dog they should get. There are so many to choose from! Before you choose, make sure you do all your research to ensure your new pet is a perfect fit for you and your family.

What's Your Lifestyle?

The first big question is whether you should adopt a dog, cat, bird, or even a tiny furry friend like a hamster. It really depends on which pet will fit in best with your lifestyle and personality. Consider questions like, "Will you be home during the day?" Or, "What other pets do you have?" If you have a cat that doesn't get along with dogs, then you don't want to adopt a dog. If you have a dog that prefers being a solo animal, your best choice might be a fish or bird.

If you travel for work, you want to find someone to walk or stay with your dog when you're out of town. If you're only gone during the workday, you might be just fine with a doggy door you can leave open or a dog walker who can visit. Some people who have to be gone all day might prefer to adopt a cat. Cats still need a lot of love and attention, but they can typically handle being alone better than dogs. However, if you have to travel out of town, you need a pet sitter—no matter what type of pet you adopt.

What Type of Dog Should You Get?

If you've decided a dog is the right choice for you, your next step is to decide what type of dog will best fit your situation. Consider questions like:

  • Do you live in a third-floor apartment with no outdoor space, or a big house with a backyard? Some dogs need a place to run frequently, while other breeds are just fine in a smaller apartment.
  • Do you have young children who might need to be supervised? Some breeds get along better with children than others.
  • Do you have other pets, and how are they with other animals? If you have a cat, you might want to avoid dog breeds with a strong prey instinct, or you'll need to be well educated on teaching a dog not to chase a cat.

Different breeds have a variety of personalities and temperaments. Even if you're ultimately looking for a mixed-breed pet, a bit of research can help you narrow down your choices. For instance, dogs that are all or even part “working dog" (like cattle dogs, shepherds, and border collies) may need more activity and mental stimulation than mellower breeds. Some breeds are better with children or other pets. An online dog breed selector might help you narrow down your choices.1

Consider Age, Size, and Other Factors

Once you know what kind of temperament you're looking for, consider a few other details when adopting a new dog.

Age

Puppies are adorable, but make sure you're equipped to take on the increased attention and training needed as they grow up. An older pet can be a better fit if you're looking for a less-excitable animal and one that's already potty-trained.

Size

You may be a big dog fan, but can you restrain him when there's a squirrel on your daily walk? Think about your physical capabilities now and into the next 10 years. It's also a good idea to consider the size of your home relative to how big the animal will be.

Coat and Grooming Requirements

Dogs with longer fur require more brushing and grooming to keep their coats healthy. On the other hand, brushing can be a great way to relax and bond with your new pet.

Care

Think about who's going to do what before your new pet comes home, like walking, feeding, and cleaning up messes.

The Dog's Background

If you're adopting an older dog, then you want to check into the dog's background. Talk to the dog's vet or rescue to find out the dog's temperament and history. You might have some habits or fears to overcome, but that can be fine if you're prepared.

You Have Lots of Choices

Once you know what you're looking for, you still have some choices to make. There are so many options for finding the perfect new pet. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, contact a responsible breeder or check out rescue organizations in your area. And be sure to check your local shelter—up to 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred.2 To find dogs looking for a forever home, visit an online shelter listing or call your local shelter. Some online listings work with many shelters and let you search by location, breed, age, sex, and size.3

Introduce Your New Dog Slowly

If you already have pets, don't forget to use care and patience when introducing your new dog to your cat or other dog. All introductions should be done slowly and with care, so everyone feels comfortable and safe. Dogs should be allowed to sniff at each other outside first (while on leashes) before moving inside.

Cat introductions can take longer. Your cat will need a safe space to retreat to, along with time to get used to the dog's scent. You might start out keeping them in separate rooms and feeding them on opposite sides of a closed door. After a few days (at least) of separation, keep your dog on a leash for their first introductions. It's okay if the introductions take a couple of weeks. Help your cat feel more secure by using Comfort Zone's Calming Diffusers in your home.

Adopting a new dog or puppy is a beautiful decision. You'll have a best friend for all of life's ups and downs. Do your research first to make sure your dog is a great fit for your home, lifestyle, and other pets.

1. Animal Planet. "Dog Breed Selector." AnimalPlanet.com, http://www.animalplanet.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds.html.

2. Humane Society for Shelter Pets. "Facts and Statistics about Pet Shelters." HumaneforPets.com, https://humaneforpets.com/resources/facts-and-statistics-about-animal-shelters.

3. The Shelter Project. "Search Results." TheShelterProject.org, https://theshelterpetproject.org/pet-search/.

Category: New Pet | Comfort Zone