The Ultimate Guide For Families Considering A New Dog

June 22, 2020

Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash


Your client is considering a new dog. This is an exciting time for them. While it may have been a long-awaited decision, that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t use only their heart when choosing a dog. When we rescue dogs with only our heart, we sometimes end up regretting that arrangement and in the long run, it’s the dog who suffers.  Below we have listed 13 tips for dog trainers and other dog professionals to show their clients before they go looking for their next fur baby.  Before you welcome a new dog to your home, check out our dog adoption checklist.


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Google it. Most animal rescues and shelters post pictures and information online for available dogs. Rather than visiting kennels in person, search the internet for your next dog adoption.  Before making an appointment to meet the dog, research the traits and care required for the breed you are interested in to ensure the energy level and required care is manageable for your family.


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Show me the money. Welcoming a dog into your home costs money, a lot of money.  Consider the cost over a 16 year period.  If you’re lucky, that is how long your dog will live.

*neutering/spaying *vaccinations *vet visits *microchip *preventative medication

*supplies (bedding, toys, crate, etc) *food/treats *possible medical issues *licensing

*unexpected issues *boarding * dog training *dog walking/care *regular grooming *pet insurance


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You got the time? Will your schedule allow you the time needed to care for a new dog?  Puppies require around-the-clock care.  Older dogs still require mental and physical stimulation, but can be left alone for longer periods of time.  Spontaneity is difficult when you have a dog waiting at home.  A daily schedule is important for a dog’s mental health.  Forget last minute getaways or business trips, because arrangements must be made for your dog’s care while you’re away.



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What’s age got to do with it?  Are you considering a puppy, adult dog or a senior dog?  All three dog ages are good options.  You just need to decide what age is best for your family. In some households, adding a puppy may be too time consuming and overwhelming, while the next family may prefer to raise their young children and puppy together.  Check out the information below to decide which age dog you’d prefer to adopt.


Age of dog



Puppy (8 wk-4 m0)

(energetic and playful). Requires mental and physical stimulation.

Funny * sweet looking*small* you socialize the dog to your lifestyle*

No need to break bad habits, just teach proper behavior

Around the clock care *housebreaking * stop nipping, stealing, destroying * cannot be left alone for more than a handful of hours* dog training needs* requires sterilization*

May not know how large the dog will grow

Adult (5 mo – 5 yr)

(energetic and playful.  Level depends on age)

Requires mental and physical stimulation

Already housebroken* decreased (or no) nipping and destruction * may know basic commands*

Know the dog’s full size (depending on age)*

May be left alone for longer periods of time (depending on age)*

Likely lived in a home so easier to determine compatibility with people and other animals. 

May not be properly socialized* may have to break bad habits through  dog training.
Senior Dogs

(lower energy)

Mental stimulation required. Less physical stimulation.

Know dog’s full size*

Lived in home so 

easier to determine compatibility with animals and people* Housebroken * can be left home for longer periods of time * May be fully trained

*Allows a senior dog to receive love in a home.

Possible medical issues* shorter life span (depending on age)* training may be more difficult *may have bad habits that require training.


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Can we be friends? Consider the energy and tolerance levels for your current pets.  Will they tolerate a puppy coming into the home and bothering them for attention?  Have your animals been socialized with dogs?  Even if your dog plays regularly with other animals in daycare or around the neighborhood, doesn’t necessarily mean he will love his new roommate.  Like people, dogs don’t enjoy the company of everyone they meet.  It’s important to bring your animals to meet the dog you’d like to adopt.  A few visits can help you determine if they will co-exist together.


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S.O.S. Are your children ready for a puppy? Constant puppy nipping and toy stealing can add drama to your home.  So can a huge dog who knocks the kids down every time they interact.  While many people think toy breeds are safest for their house, consider the dog’s safety.  Are your children rough with animals?  If so, they can easily injure a toy breed.  If the kids frighten or repeatedly injure the dog, the dog may act defensive when kids approach.  Your children should accompany you to the shelter or store when you choose your next pet.  They should interact with the dog a few times before you make a decision, to ensure they will live harmoniously.  Children should learn dog safety and follow rules concerning the dog.  We don’t want the puppy getting loose as the kids run in and out of the house.  A calm family makes happy parents. We have to say it:  children and dogs should never be left in the same space, unattended.


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Lifestyle of the young and social. When choosing a dog, you need to consider your hobbies.  If you are an outdoor person who enjoys hiking, bike riding and running, you’ll want to pick a breed that will enjoy the adventures with you.  For those who prefer  quiet weekends at home, an active dog will leave you and the dog miserable.

 The American Kennel Club recognizes 193 breeds of dogs and have broken them down to seven groups. Sport, non-sport, hound, working, terrier, toy, miscellaneous. Researching each group of dogs will help you determine which breed is likely to fit into your lifestyle. Below we have provided a short introduction to each grouping. You can obtain a wealth of information on every breed of dog by visiting the American Kennel Club at Which of the dogs on our dog adoption checklist best fits your family?

Sporting Group: Active and alert.  First developed to work with hunters and enjoy water activity and retrieving. Require daily exercise. 

Hound:  Hunters with acute scenting powers used to follow a trail.  Plenty of stamina, especially when it comes to running down prey.  Some have a unique sound known as baying.  

Working group:  Quick study, intelligent, strong and alert. This group works as guard dogs, sled pullers and water rescues.  They are large in size and natural protectors. For this reason, owners must properly train and socialize these breeds.  The working group could be too challenging for first-time dog owners.

   Terrier group:  A feisty and energetic group whose size differs from small to large. Enjoy hunting vermin. Can be stubborn, but make great pets. Require regular grooming and daily maintenance. 

Non-working groupOur coats vary and so does our size, appearance and personality.  Group comes from various backgrounds so it is hard to generalize them from other dogs in the group. Active dogs who make good watch dogs. Do well living in a house

Herding Group: Up until 1983, dogs in this group were lumped together with the working group [].  It is instinctual for them to control the movement of other animals.  They tend to herd their owners and human children.  Often used for police and protection work. Make excellent companions and respond well to training.  

Toy Group: Small in size, but big in personality.  Affectionate, sociable and adaptable to many lifestyles. Smart, energetic and have protective instincts.  Great lap dogs and do well in apartments.  

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We got a job for you.  Families may adopt a dog  with the intent that the dog will provide a service.  Some want an emotional support dog while others are looking for a therapy dog or service dog.  Rather than choosing your dog by breed, you need to examine the temperament of the dog to determine if they would be a good fit for your needs. Proper training and socializing can increase your puppy’s likelihood to fit the demands, while rescuing an older dog, where the temperament is already evident, may increase your likelihood of success. Here is a brief description of each canine temperament/characteristics:


    1. Happy dogs love people and other animals. They can be overly excited and often find themselves in trouble for exuberant behavior.
    2. Confident dogs are team players, but will take control. They display comfort in body language and normally don’t start trouble with other dogs, but won’t tolerate much either
    3. Independent dogs can be standoffish and usually bond with an owner who is a confident leader. Spending time in their own space makes them happy.
    4. Adaptable dogs are affectionate and eager to please. They are easy to train and make excellent emotional support and therapy dogs.
    5. Shy dogs require patience, reassurance and nurturing. Obedience training can prevent the dog from demonstrating aggressive behavior. Moving slow will raise the dog’s self-esteem and trust.

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 Grooming: The thought of constantly vacuuming balls of fur and performing daily maintenance of the dog’s fur/hair causes stress for me. So, I rescue short-haired dogs.  What do you prefer?  If you don’t have a preference, consider the grooming bill every few weeks. Is this something you can commit to?  Long-haired dogs also require daily brushing to prevent knots and matting.  Upkeep for a long-haired dog requires time and money. Visit to learn the grooming care associated with the breed of dog you are considering.


Photo credit: Pixabay-from-Pexel

Ain’t nobody got time for life changes:  Do you foresee significant life changes that may cause you to surrender your dog?  Many dogs are unfairly surrendered when the family relocates.  If you plan to change apartments or downsize to a co-op, you may run into a situation where all dogs are banned or certain breeds/size  of dogs are not permitted.  This means you may have to pass on your dream home to find one that will accommodate your dog.  

The same rings true when you get married or have children.  It is devastating when the person a dog loves more than themself, tosses him in a shelter due to a life change.  If you foresee a situation where having a dog is temporary, then it may benefit you to volunteer as a foster parent rather than adopting/purchasing a dog.  Surrendering or abandoning a dog is life shattering for the animal.  In many cases, these older dogs and cats spend their remaining years living in a shelter environment.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


The truth about allergies.  A huge misconception about hypo-allergenic dogs is that people are not allergic to them.  True, less hair floating in the air does help allergy sufferers.  However, hypo-allergenic dogs still have dander.  Dander is small bits of dead skin that shed from cats and dogs.  This dander often contains protein from saliva and urine.  To the shock of some allergy sufferers, hypo-allergenic dogs can trigger an allergy attack. 

Why? People may be allergic to the protein in the dander.  It is important that every family member spend time with the dog. Then, wait a day or so to ensure an allergy doesn’t force you to return your new dog.



Don’t compare. Your new dog is not going to mirror the lives of dogs you’ve had in the past.  He will look differently, act differently and enjoy different things.  People who compare new dogs to previous dogs will end up disappointed.  Our children are not the same. Neither are our family members or friends.  Understand that your dog, although the same breed, will possess his own individuality.  His care and level of training will differ from any other dogs you’ve known.


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Would the “real” caregiver please stand up.  We hear the same story every day.  The kids (young kids to adult kids) promise to care for the dog. You adopt the dog with the intention of all hands on deck. No sooner does the dog settle into your new home, when the kids return to their activities and social events.  Now, there is only one person caring for the dog. That person is you. It’s frustrating. Especially, when you didn’t want a dog in the first place.  

We’ve met adult children who bring home a dog, promising to care for it.  Within a year, they move out and claim they can’t take the dog with them.  Others refer to the dog as their own. They play with the dog, but are absent when it comes to caring for the dog.  

Before agreeing to a new dog, make sure you are prepared to care for it for the next 14 to 16 years. If this is not a commitment you are willing to make, we suggest your family foster a dog instead.  In doing so, you will help a homeless dog, without making a lifetime commitment.  Should the entire family live up to their promise and care for the dog, you can always adopt the dog at a later date.

This article is not meant  to scare you from welcoming a dog into your family. We want to ensure you are ready for the commitment and know how to pick the right dog for your family. Looking into the sad eyes of a dog and hearing their tale of woe, is not helpful when making a decision.  Dogs are work, but they also make wonderful companions.  

The number of dogs surrendered each year is staggering. The number who lose their lives in shelters is worse.   Dogs never give up on people, this world would be so much kinder if people never gave up on dogs. Did our dog adoption checklist help you in the decision-making process of welcoming a new fur baby?  We hope so.  Let us know.


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