Should I Put a Collar on it or What?!

All you need to know about bringing a new dog into your family!

So, I take it you are a dog person if you are here reading this and looking to add a dog to your family! What an exciting time! I’m sure you think you are hiding in a corner on kijiji looking at all the cute puppies for sale, but we see you! Yes, YOU! Look at that cute puppy though! And another one! …and ANOTHER one! But wait, isn’t there more to think about than how CUTE your dog is? I know you’re over there saying, ‘I don’t care what my dog is like as long as he/she is cute!’. Picking out a dog is, in a way, like picking out a boyfriend. Lots of them are cute, right?! But what makes us want to stay around? Yes, we all want that initial attraction and let’s be real, it’s important. However, if you were to pick a boyfriend based solely off how cute he is, chances are you might not ever be calling that person your husband. We take a lot into account when dating someone before ever agreeing to make that person OUR person for LIFE! That’s a big commitment! Woah! Does this person fit into my lifestyle? Are they motivated? Do they suit my personality? Are they a good person? Do we have a good balance? What would my day to day look like with them? Where would we live? Do we have similar values? Do I really love them? I mean REALLY love them? Through thick and thin and browsing dogs on kijiji? Does he even LIKE dogs?! No?!?! Maybe I should run…even the Grinch had a dog! Ha!

All jokes aside, picking out a dog is A LOT like picking out a boyfriend who you would eventually want to call your husband. They are with you for LIFE! A lot of these things that we would think about in our relationships are things we all should be thinking about before adding a dog to our family. Does this dog fit into my lifestyle? What motivates them? Do they suit my personality? What would our day to day look like? Do I have enough time or the means to give them what they need? Is where I live appropriate for this breed? Do I want a Great Dane but live in a studio apartment? Do I have livestock for my Great Pyrenees to protect? Am I okay with them NEVER listening to me? What was this breed bred for? Can I AT LEAST give them an outlet for their instincts? Am I capable of loving them the way they deserve? I mean REALLY love them? Through thick and thin, challenges and heartache? And okay, okay. I’ll throw you a bone! Are they CUTE?! See what I did there? No? Check what flavor your bone is maybe…

So where do we go from here? Once you have answered all of the above questions, you will most likely begin to see a vision for what your ideal dog would look like. It’s important to do breed research to see what will fit your lifestyle before you begin looking. Having a dog can be challenging enough at times. Try to make it easier on yourself and your family by doing your research and figuring out what your ideal dog would look like (and I’m not just talking their cute factor). The AKC is a great resource for information on dog breeds including their history, health and hygiene, personality, exercise, trainability, and nutrition. ( There are always breed exceptions, but this will give you a great general idea of whether the breed will fit into your lifestyle and family. If you are looking to buy off Kijiji (which I don’t really recommend), make sure they are happy to let you come see the dog a few times before you bring them home. Maybe even see if you can go on a walk together so you can see how they are in their environment. See if they are willing to create a waiver so you can bring the dog home for about a week or at least an overnight to find out their personality before bringing them home for good. If you know exactly what you want and decide to go through a breeder, I would follow all of these guidelines plus make sure they are licensed. A lot of knowledge goes into raising newborn puppies and you want to make sure it is done right so you can avoid any future issues. For example, I’ve worked with students who brought their puppy home at 6 weeks and then discovered that their puppy is really nippy and biting down hard to the point of drawing blood. While you maybe don’t realize a connection here with bringing a dog home at least 2 weeks early, I see the impact that has on both owner and puppy. Mothers teach their pups bite inhibition (how hard they can bite without hurting) during weeks six, seven and eight. Missing this tends to lead to behavioral issues shortly down the road. Make sure you are bringing your puppy home when they are between 8 and 10 weeks old. A reputable breeder should not be suggesting otherwise.

If you plan to go the rescue route, I would follow similar guidelines but choosing a specific breed might be a lot harder as most pets up for adoption are mixed breeds. Which there is nothing wrong with and sometimes it will even balance out to be the perfect combination for your family. It worked out really well for me with my 2 rescue dogs. One of my dogs is a flat coated retriever and border collie cross. While I would definitely get a purebred flat coated retriever, a border collie wouldn’t be a great fit for my lifestyle. I wouldn’t have the time or desire to take them to herding class or exercise them as much as they need. Border Collies also tend to have a lot of anxiety if they don’t have an outlet for their instincts and they also don’t do well in busy towns or cities. They would fit best on a farm away from a lot of noise and people. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Border Collies and I think they are CUTE, but I wouldn’t want to bring them home and make one my husband. This again? Oh boy. These two breeds together, however, have given me the perfect dog. She has lots of energy but also knows how to be calm and snuggle, durable so she goes on hikes with me and loves the beach, affectionate and loves people and kids, I could go on and on. But I digress. Rescues are a great way to balance out certain breeds!

Here are some things you should do before bringing home a rescue dog:

  • Visit the dog as much as the rescue allows. Start by introducing just one person from the family first and work up to having the whole family there. A rescue dog may be a bit nervous of new people or situations, so you want to be sure you are respecting their boundaries.
  • Go on a walk with the dog you are considering bringing home, either by yourself or with someone from the rescue. Then you will be able to see how they function in their environment.
  • Ask the rescue if they know the dog’s history.
  • Ask the rescue if they’ve noticed any quirks about the dog? Are they scared of men? Children? Do they like other dogs and cats? Are they nervous of new situations? Do they settle at home or are they a ball of anxiety?
  • Ask how much exercise they think the dog needs and consider if you can offer them what they need.
  • Ask about any possible health issues.
  • See if they have a green space where you can play with them so you can see if they are rough players or not (something to consider if you have kids or are older).
  • Most rescues give you a trial period of 7 days, sometimes more for challenging dogs. Before you sign official papers, see if you can bring them home for an overnight. I know some rescues will let you do this to help you decide.

**Keep in mind that dogs have an adjustment period so they might not be the best they can be on their first night, week, or month. Try to see where the challenges may be but also look for the potential. If their challenges outweigh their potential and you don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to help them, that is probably not a great fit for your family. Or maybe you bring them home and realize that they are big jumpers, but you have small kids at home. Sometimes, the challenges are out of your control, and you need to keep the safety of your family in mind first. If you foresee challenges that you are wiling and capable to work on, be prepared and hire a trainer or behaviorist in advance so you are ready when you bring them home!

…And last but not least,

  • Look at them and see if they are, in fact, cute (I’m sure they all are)!

I hope this post gave you all some insight on all that you need to think about before bringing a dog home or making that guy/girl you’re seeing your forever person. Okay, you can go back to hiding in your corner now looking at dogs on the internet…but think before you put a collar on it ????

If you need help deciding what dog would be a great fit for your family, contact us and we can help! Either by way of advice or coming to do an assessment for you

Photo by Richard Brutyo on Unsplash