It’s a heartbreaking story, but something we hear time and again — owners of a year-old dog discover they just don’t have the time, energy, or capabilities to take care of the animal the way they thought they would, and they’re looking for a new home for their pet.
Re-homing at that age is tough on the dog, and even tougher on the people who have formed an attachment. It also raises a few questions:
Are people not putting enough thought into the type of dog they are bringing into their lives?
Are they getting lost in the sweetness of a cute puppy face, forgetting to think about what the future holds?
One thing is for sure – before bringing a dog into your life, it is always important to learn everything you can about the proposed breed, and know what you’re getting in for down the road.
1. Think About the Eventual Size of the Animal
All dogs start out small, but if you live alone and weigh 95 pounds soaking wet, that beautiful pair of golden retriever puppies may not be the best set of friends a year from now. You need a dog you can control, not one that will control you. When you’re out for a walk and they decide to charge after something, consider the biggest dog you’d be able to have while staying on your own two feet when they start to tug and pull.
2. Consider Their Energy Level
While many breeds are naturally higher energy than others, this depends more on the temperament of the individual animal. Find a dog whose energy level matches your own lifestyle. A super energetic, outdoors-loving, run-all-day pooch isn’t the best choice for an apartment dweller who works 15-hour shifts. It’s not fair to the dog, and you likely won’t appreciate the consequences of keeping them cooped up all day.
Temperament is extremely important, and you need to pick a dog breed that reflects your own energy. Almost every puppy is cute – falling in love with form alone is a bad idea.
3. Think About Skipping the Puppy Years
Shelters are full of dogs aged 1 or above which have already been housebroken. If you are a busy worker or have an active social life, you may not have the time necessary to housebreak a puppy. Not only might you end up with unwanted deposits all over your house, you may find chewed table legs, ruined pillows, and other behaviors that come along with puppyhood.
Even if you do have plenty of free time in your life, be prepared to sacrifice a lot of it for the dog. That is a reality that never stops – from feeding, walking, playing, and cuddle time, dogs are not an animal that thrives in isolation.
4. Consider the Kids
Not all dogs love children, and even dogs who have been around kids may not love others. If you already have children, consider finding a dog who already has some experience around kids, or at least engage in a trial session before making the commitment. You want a pet that will love and protect your children, not one who merely accepts their presence. If kids are something on the radar for the future, make sure you spend time acclimating the dog to children in the interim.
Most of these suggestions seem simple and obvious, but experience has shown us people regularly overlook them. It’s understandable – getting wrapped up in the instant and powerful cuteness of a puppy is something we’ve all done. There is a tendency to think things will work out no matter what. What matters is doing the right thing from the get-go, both for you and the wonderful furry friend you want to bring into your life.
Jeff Saporito is a business manager and co-founder of AffordableVet.net, a national website offering pet medications, supplies, treats, and toys. A graduate of La Roche College in Pittsburgh, PA, he now serves as Vice President of AffordableVet and Communications Manager for A Step Up, a new and innovative veterinary clinic in Bethel Park, PA. He is also a regular contributor of film and television analysis to ScreenPrism and manages a brick and mortar beer and cigar store. He lives near Washington, PA with his wife, fraternal twins, toy poodle, and miniature schnauzer.