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August 17, 2011 at 7:00 AMComments: 6 Faves: 0

4 Things to Consider When Selecting a New Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Are you considering adding a puppy or dog to your family?

Here are 4 tips on how to pick out a new furry family member that will fit into your lifestyle.

1. Consider Your Finances

Money, Money, Moneeeeyy! Yes, these little buggers can be expensive.....if you are on a college student budget, this is NOT the time to get a dog! It's not just the purchase price of your new fur kid you have to factor in. Here are just a few things you need to consider in your budget:

  • Training
  • Crate
  • Food and Treats
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Toys
  • Vet expenses
  • Home repairs

Oh my! This is adding up fast! And what if your dog turns out to be a "medically special needs" fur child? Can you afford this? Do you work long hours (don't even think about crating your dog for over 6 hours)? You will need to consider hiring someone to come in and take care of your dog mid-day or finding a doggie daycare program. Is this in your budget? Make sure you are planning out your budget and finances and you can afford your new fur baby for the next 15-20 years.

2. Dog or Puppy?

Do you have time for potty training, command training, crate training? Do you want to deal with all of those crazy puppy behaviors such as; chewing, nipping, and yipping? If you think you are getting a puppy that will grow to be 5 lbs big, well think again. You really don't know, your puppy could grow to 10 lbs. Are you going to be okay without truly knowing the exact height and weight of your new puppy as they grow into an adult dog? Oh, and don't forget those horrible teen years your puppy grows into, if you think the puppy phase is bad, just wait!

Don't get me wrong, puppies are very, very fun! They are adorable, and, if you have the time, training is a GREAT way to bond with your puppy! I just want you to consider all that it takes when getting a puppy vs. an adult dog.

An adult dog (2 years or older) is more of a "what you see is what you get" kind of deal. The height and weight, the personality, the temperament, most likely potty trained, knows commands....easy, breezy....there still might be a few things you will need to work on with an older dog, but much, much easier to deal with. Plus, while puppies tend to be swooped up straight away at a pound, older dogs have a harder time. By adopting an older dog, you may just save a life!

3. Consider Your Lifestyle

Are you high energy or lower key? Are you more of a couch potato - just sitting and reading a good book? Or do you enjoy biking and running? These are all things you will need to consider when adopting or purchasing your new puppy or adult dog. The breed and age will play a BIG BIG role in this decision.

Jack Russell Terrier = LOADS OF ENERGY! Great for a runner and very very active person or family!

Shih Tzu = Low key, low energy, great for a daily walk and enjoys snuggling with you and a good book.

Research, Research, Research...check out the different types of breeds that are out there and find out about their temperament, activity requirements, and training capabilities. Even if you plan to adopt a mix breed, understanding the variety of the breeds in your mix will help make a better decision of whether that is the right dog to adopt or purchase.

4. Consider Their Source

Where do you get your new beloved fur baby?

  • Your Local Humane Society or Similar Pet Shelter: Every year, millions of sweet, loving dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters that can't afford to care for them all. Please think about your local shelter when considering the purchase of a new dog. While it may be true that some dogs end up there because of behavioral issues (an unfortunate result of a lack of proper training and care by their owners), most end up there simply because their families could not afford them or underestimated the amount of time, energy, and commitment a dog requires. Unfortunately, most human societies have a 2 week policy, animals that have been there for over two weeks are euthanized. If you're considering a new dog, please consider looking at your local pet shelter first. You could very well be saving a life!
  • Pet Stores: NEVER EVER EVER A PET stores deal with brokers who get their puppy's from puppy mills....don't believe me? Ask the pet store for the breeders name, address, and phone number, if they are not willing to supply that information to you, well, guess what, their puppies are from puppy mills. Don't get sucked in with the guilt and think "oh, but I will be saving this puppy." You are NOT saving a puppy. In order to shut these torturous, horrendous, filthy, evil mills down, it starts with us NOT purchasing a puppy from a pet store. If you do, you are forcing the parents to endure more hardship of producing another litter after litter after litter. Pet store owners only care about filling the new space with another puppy mill pup that just opened up with your purchase of that puppy.
  • Newspaper: Do NOT purchase a puppy from the newspaper. People that post ads in the paper are backyard breeders, which are very close in line with a puppy mill. Look under the AKC for professional breeders, this is a great way to get in touch with a professional breeder that breeds dogs for the LOVE of that breed and not the money involved with exploiting it. Although they still charge top dollar for their puppies blood line, after you factor all the care that goes into these puppies and genetic testing, rarely does a professional breeder walk away with money in their pocket. Backyard breeders and puppy mills always are making a profit and that is all they care about.
  • Petfinder: Check out Petfinder - a FANTASTIC resource to look for purebreds or mix puppies or dogs that are in need of their forever home.
  • Craigslist: Craigslist can be an okay place to find a dog, however tread carefully here. Unfortunately, people that are putting their pets on Craigslist for adoption are usually withholding something about the reason why they are getting rid of their pet.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. The decision to purchase a new dog is not something you should take lightly. While dogs are great fun and company, they also require a lot of money and effort - they depend on you for everything! If your unsure of your time and money restraints, it may be wise to wait a while before bringing a dog into the picture. When you take in all the considerations of your lifestyle and budget your reward will be a great dog and great relationship with them.


Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading


  • Victoria, thank you for posting this! I am a huge dog lover. In the past year, a lot of my friends have gotten puppies or dogs and it's really making me want one even more than before.

    My husband and I (well mostly me!) are thinking of getting one later on down the road. This whole blog post is all such good advice and I will definitely follow these steps before we get one. I don't want to just get a dog on impulsive, so I will start researching. In the meantime, I will use my friends' dogs to satisfy my need to have one! :) Thanks again for writing this!

  • Thanks is hard to hold back when you see those BIG brown eyes looking at you saying "take me home NOW please"! You will be glad that you took a step back to do your research before getting your next fur baby. It will be the BEST decision you do! Good Luck and happy puppy/dog adopting/shopping!

  • I love dogs but my kids do not want to see any pet. For this reason I never tried to have dogs.

  • Good Day Fekadu:

    How old are your kids? Did they have a bad experience with a dog and that is why they don't want to see any pet? Dogs are a wonderful companion for a family with kids 7 and older....they help teach kids responsibilities, compassion, patience and so much more...I would love to help your children understand and appreciate what a pet can offer in their life! Have a wonderful day!

    Victoria :)


    Mackenzies is a no kill shelter in Lake Odessa MI. Every dog that is adopted from them gives them room to save another dog. NEVER EVER buy from a pet store!!! If you have any idea what happens in the puppy mill industry supported by pet stores you would never consider supporting that with your purchase. If you must get a pure bred, buy from a local small breeder and do your homework both on the breed and the breeder.

    Honestly, when I hear of anyone I know who is considering not rescuing a dog from a shelter and buying somewhere they get a piece of my mind. There are thousands of wonderful pets looking for a home at your local shelter, why would you go anywhere else for a dog?

  • Good Day John! I LOVE hearing someone discuss the puppy mills with such passion that I share! It I love MacKenzies and what they stand for and all that they do, I am a HUGE promoter of rescuing vs. buying a puppy or dog.....we just need to continue to educate.....thanks for the comment!

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