Before you choose a dog, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your budget? Can you afford the purchase price (or adoption fee), the annual care bills, such as food, veterinarian care, toys, and grooming costs?
If you rent your home, does your lease allow you to have pets? If so, is there a restriction on size or how many?
Do you want a high energy dog or a lap dog? Are you going to take your dog camping every weekend, or will you expect him to be an indoor or apartment dog?
Do you have a fenced in backyard, or do you plan to walk your dog every time he needs to relieve himself?
Do you have small children who may injure a toy-sized dog?
Are you ready to train a puppy or would you rather have an adult dog that is already trained?
Who will take care of your dog when you can't?
Are you partial to a specific breed?
Once you have asked and answered these questions, you can begin looking for a dog by following these steps:
- Research the dog breeds that match your preferences. Look at such things as breed temperament, genetic health concerns, and exercise needs.
Locate your local breed club, dog rescue group, pet shop, do an Internet search, visit the local animal shelter, or check the newspaper classified ads.
Inquire about dogs that meet your needs.
Meet with the owner/handler and animal, preferably without children the first time.
If the dog is still a puppy, ask to meet the bitch (mother dog).
Ask questions about the dog's health, vaccinations, the owner's return policy, and the dog's general history with other animals.
Ask if the dog has been tested for aggression and his level of training.
Spend time with the dog, observing his behavior.
Schedule a return visit with your children. Observe the dog's behavior with your family.
Ask for the opportunity to take the dog home for a test visit. Be prepared to purchase food, toys, bedding, leashes, etc.
If possible, take the dog to your vet for a check up prior to adoption or purchase. If not, make sure the seller has a return policy for sick animals.
When paying for your new pet, ask for a receipt, a copy of the adoption or sales contract, and for the AKC papers, if the dog is a registered purebred.
Do not expect your dog to bond with you right away. Some breeds are standoffish until they get to know you.
By taking the time to consider what you really want from a dog, you can gain excellent companionship from either a purebred or a pound puppy.