When you start to look for a dog to add to your funky bunch it is important to consider many variables. Quite often I have come into contact with people who have dogs that do not match their lifestyle. You can’t have an active breed like a border collie, if you aren’t an active person yourself. Yet, so many people buy or adopt breeds of dogs that they have no idea how to take care of. This is one of the many reasons Rachel and I started Paws Out. Every dog’s needs are unique to their breed and each breed possesses traits that are seen across the board. When you go to adopt a dog it is important that you are thinking long and hard about what that particular dog would require and how that would truthfully fit into your life.
One thing I see quite often as a reason for individuals to have a certain breed of dog is “because I grew up with them” or “I like how they look”. These are not good reasons. I will use my dog Ryder for example. He’s a red/blue australian cattle dog. Knowing just how exuberant cattle dogs are I was not surprised by Ryder’s energy level. As he got larger in size his energy doubled in size as well. Ryder lives a great life, but that’s because we were ready to give him that. We exercise him at least twice a day and take him to as many places as we can to properly socialize him. By nature, cattle dogs are working animals which tends to make them more introverted. They are loyal to their people but do not actively show it like a lab would. Ryder by nature is not going to be the dog at the dog park that will run up to another dog and engage in play . We have had to work with him closely and teach him through positive reinforcement that it is okay to socialize with other dogs. With that in mind, had Rachel and I not been prepared to take on the responsibility of this breed a we would not be doing Ryder justice. He would not be living his best life.
Another example of a good breed match would be my mom and the dog she chose for their family, Max. My mom works full time, has two small children, and a husband in the service. She has always enjoyed animals and was looking to get a dog. When I heard she brought Max home I thought that she couldn’t possibly have time for a puppy. Come to find out, Max was a Bulldog and true to his breed, liked to take it easy. Max could not have been a better fit. As a puppy he loved sleeping and and to this day his favorite activity is still napping. He was a perfect addition to the family.
Picking the right dog for you or you and your family is critical and it is important that you are honest with yourself before you make the commitment. Just like children your pets and their quality of life are a direct reflection of the work you put into them. Ryder would’ve been fine with tons of exercise, but had we not worked with him to increase his social confidence he could have ended up aggressive and territorial because of his extreme loyalty to Rachel and I. When looking to add a dog to your life, talk to your local animal shelter or people who have the breed you’re interested in. They will be able to share the breed’s behavioral traits and will let you know exactly what your dog will need to be happy. Then ask yourself, can I commit to all that is required?