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Choosing A Dog: 8 Questions To Ask

choosing a dogYou’ve decided to get a new dog but actually choosing a dog can be difficult.  How do you know if the dog you’re looking at is the right one for you?

Here are 8 questions to ask about the big dog you’re thinking of choosing:

1.  How old is the dog?  This will give you an idea of whether or not the dog has growing left to do and its expected energy level.  A hyper 1-year-old might calm down in another year or 2, but a hyper 5-year-old will likely be that way for a while.  It will also give you a general health expectation - a senior dog with stiff hips is normal, but a 2-year-old with the same problem could indicate health problems. 


2.  If it’s a puppy, when was it weaned/when will it be weaned?  Dogs that are weaned too early (before 8 weeks) show that the breeder is not knowledgeable about breeding or is not overly concerned with the dogs’ well-being.  A puppy that is weaned too young will be less likely to understand how to be with other dogs – so much of what they learn about dog-to-dog interaction is learned in those first 8 weeks, so rushing to take the dog home will be harmful in the long run.


3.  Also for puppies - can I see the parents?  If both the parents are on site, that’s a great sign.  You can get a feel for the parents’ size and temperaments, which will strongly influence that of the puppies.  If the dog is a mix, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect from the mix if you can see the parents.  Even if you can see just one of the parents, that's helpful and a good sign.  But if neither of the parents are on site, run.  You’re likely buying a puppy mill dog. 


4.  If the dog is older – has it been housetrained?  Vaccinated?  Basic trained? You’ll be able to estimate how much training you’ll need to do and if you can realistically provide that time and attention.


5.  What medical care has the dog received?  It will give you an idea of what up-front bills you may need to plan for (shots, spaying/neutering, etc.) and if the dog has had ongoing health problems. 


6.  Why are you giving up the dog?  It could be as simple as they can’t have the dog anymore, but if there are major issues you don’t want to be surprised.


7.  Has the dog been around other dogs/pets/kids?  How does he/she do around other animals and children?  The answer to this question tells you how well socialized the dog is, if you’ll need to socialize the dog, and if it will be a good fit with your household.  If your home already has any of the above, make sure that the dog you're thinking of choosing meets everybody before you make a decision.


8.  Has the dog had any previous homes?  A dog that has been bounced around a lot has not likely had any consistency in training or expectations.  This will require more training effort from you to create and maintain behavior standards. 

Choosing a dog is always exciting.  It’s hard not to simply fall for a cute dog, but by asking these questions you’ll be making an informed decision and getting a big dog that fits your family and lifestyle.

What tips or questions do you use in choosing a dog?  Head over to the Facebook page and share!


If you liked this post, you may also like:

    Getting a new puppy:  Questions to ask yourself first.

    Dog DNA testing:  How does it work?

    Why don't more people adopt rescue dogs?


Photo credit:  John Wright

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