Are you thinking of adding a new puppy into your life?  Here are some tips that can help you understand how to choose the right one for your family.

Assess Your Situation

A puppy is a lifelong commitment.  Before youHow to pick the right puppy decide to bring a puppy home do a thorough assessment of your current life situation.  Are you able to be home to take your puppy out regularly?  Can you afford the financial impact of a new puppy such as vet bills, food or a dog walker if you work long hours?  Do you have the time to bond with your puppy and provide them proper training?    Asking questions such as these will help you decide if now is the right time to bring a new companion home.   

You should also do a similar assessment of your living situation.  Do you have a big, fenced-in yard or do you live in a small condo?  Do you have children, other dogs or cats?  Do you have hobbies you want include your dog in?  Factors such as these play an important role in determining which breed would get along best in your family.

Research, Research, Research

Before you adopt or buy a new pup do your homework!  First, carefully research to

understand the level of activity, temperament and amount of care associated with a specific breed.  For example, if you are looking for a good running buddy you should consider an athletic breed like the Vizslas.  Or if you have kids and pets at home you may want a Golden Retriever that is known for having an even and sweet temperament.  Likewise an apartment dweller should consider dogs that do well in smaller spaces.

Once you have an idea of the breed that is right for you, the same level of research should go into selecting where you get your puppy from and their individual temperament.  The best options are always shelters and breeders.  Try not to be hung up on a certain breed because sometimes that breed might not have the right personality available to you when you want it.  Be open to finding the right fit.  Remember, it is not the breed, but the temperament that is most important.  Just because you had a nice Golden before does not mean that all of them are like that.  We have seen the extreme on both sides in all breeds.   If you choose to buy a puppy from a breeder be sure to get referrals from local vets, breed clubs or the AKC so you can be sure you are choosing a reputable one.  You can also check online for reviews or references and contact other people who have purchased puppies from them in the past.

Understanding Temperament

When it comes to selecting a specific puppy, you need to understand the cues

puppies give you at the first meeting.  This will give you insight into their personality that can help you decide on the best pup for your family.

Resident dog behavior expert, Kristy Dilworth offers some good recommendations:  “Watch the puppies in the litter first.  You want to see how they act with their siblings.  Are they barking, demanding, aggressive, bossy, scared or friendly and curious?   Are they acting nervous and scared when someone approaches them?  Don’t let the puppy choose you.  Most families choose the “one” that rushes over and pushes their way to the front.  They think the “energetic” one will play and be fun.  The reality is that all puppies will play and show personalities soon, but they might not have completely developed that yet.   The “energetic” puppy might be a blast to play with for an hour, but when you get them home they could drive you crazy and be harder to manage.  Most families do best with a choice that is neither the boss of the group nor the timid one.  Look for a personality that is friendly and curious.”

And of course, once you get your puppy home it is important to start training them right away.  Even dogs as young as 8 weeks old can learn basic manners such as sit and stay.  If you are a first time dog owner or haven’t trained a puppy in a while working with an experienced trainer, such as Smart Dogs, is a great way to get things started off on the right foot!  To learn more about our in-home training options visit our Services page.