I’ll never forget when I was in third grade and we got a puppy for Christmas! I had basically been asking for one everyday for over a year. Finally my parents gave in and surprised me — it was one of the best holiday gifts I’ve ever gotten (aside from my engagement ring 🙂 ) Buttons was my best friend and partner in crime for sure!
But not everyone should become puppy parents over the holidays — it’s a stressful time and because a pet is going to become a member of your family…it’s an important decision. I’ve asked Aaron Hill, a certified professional animal trainer and the owner of Pets in the City, to give us some tips on picking the perfect pet. For my own personal choice, I’d highly recommend using a dog walking service. When I was in Seattle, I used PugetPets as a way to make sure my doggie got some much-needed exercise each and everyday.
by Aaron Hill
While toys and technology are surely on your family’s wish list this holiday season, so too may be a new furry family member.
There are as many options for selecting the right pup for your family as there are types of families and living situations. A family with older children on a farm in Virginia will be looking for a different kind of dog than a young couple with a newborn in New York City.
Which Dog is Right For You?
Being honest about your family’s needs as well as the dog’s needs is the first step in finding the right pet for you. Once you’ve seen those puppy dog eyes it will be hard not to welcome him home. Here’s a guide to help narrow your search:
· Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever – Retrievers have long been held as one of the best family dogs around. They are easily trainable with positive reinforcement, highly intelligent and very sweet.
· Newfoundland – These dogs are great for families with kids of all ages. They’re very patient and docile and don’t need a lot of exercise. But, Newfoundlands are very big dogs, so be sure you have some space so they can spread out.
· Basset Hound – This pooch is fantastic with other dogs and kids of any age, though little ones need to be reminded not to tug on their droopy ears or put pressure on their long backs. Basset hounds are great indoors but need access to sniff outside and exercise.
· Pug – This breed is a well-tempered and sturdy little dog with lots of personality, very playful and confident when left alone, making it a good fit for a busy family. Typically, pugs are not barkers so you don’t have to worry about driving your neighbors nuts while you’re at work.
· Mutt – Some of the easiest dogs to take care of are mutts. They generally have fewer health issues than purebreds and will likely live longer. As an added bonus, they combine some of the best traits of many different breeds.
· Maltese – These little fluff balls are full of personality and wonderful in small spaces, making them a good fit for a family that lives in a small home or apartment. But keep in mind they will still need some exercise.
· Papillon – This breed may seem like the perfect lap dog, but in addition to being cute these pups are also a highly intelligent and playful. They are one of the most obedient and responsive of the toy breeds.
Finding Your Pup
Once you’ve determined what kind of dog you want, its time to determine where you’ll find it.
· Animal Shelter / Adoption Agency – Many shelters have more animals than they can handle so when you’re adopting a dog you’re literally saving a life. Most of the pups in shelters are mutts, which is actually a good thing because they have fewer health risks than purebred dogs.
· Rescue Groups – If you have a specific breed in mind that you really want, do some research to see if there is a rescue group in your area. You may have to do a little more work to find the exact age or sex you want, but it’s worth it because just like shelters, you are giving a pup a second chance at finding his/her perfect family.
· Online Breeder – If you choose to use a breeder they must be licensed. Be sure to visit the breeder’s home and check references to make sure you are not supporting a puppy mill.
· Pet shop – Unfortunately pet shops have a long history of getting their pups from puppy mills. Before making a purchase from a pet store, check their credentials and ask where they get their puppies. You should only shop at stores that get their pups from rescue shelters.
The last thing puppy parents need to keep in mind is that they’ll need as much training as the dog. A reputable, professional trainer who uses positive reinforcement can help make the transition for everyone as smooth as possible.
Aaron Hill is a certified professional animal trainer and the owner of Pets in the City a premiere Dog Walking / Pet-sitting/ Training service in Los Angeles. He is certified in pet first-aid and CPR and is a member of Pet-Sitters International.