Hints to Help Find the Perfect Pooch
Purchasing or adopting a dog is an investment in a life. Before making such a commitment, people should take time to educate themselves on finding the right dog say Scott Minson and Darcy Phillipps, owners of Dog 2 Dog Training, a business specializing in dog-owner compatibility.
This duo knows dogs and offers advice on finding one. Minson has had 31 years’ experience in training dogs, including work with canine explosive detection teams. Darcy Phillipps is a canine nutrition specialist with 15 years practical training.
“We teach people how to live joyfully with their dog,” says Phillipps. Below are some suggestions.
1. Promise yourself not to get a dog after only one look.
As with any life-changing decision, Minson recommends people “go home and sleep on it” and not succumb to pity, the dog’s cute expression or children’s high-pressured sales tactics.
2. Avoid giving a dog as a surprise gift.
“If parents want to give a dog as a surprise, start by giving the child a certificate or a dog crate as the first step,” he suggests. Then create a learning experience for all. Research which dog works best for your family.
3. If a puppy is in the picture, ask all involved, “Can we commit to a puppy’s needs?”
“All puppies are cute,” says Minson and tug at heartstrings, but they are babies, and owners need to be prepared for nightly wake-ups, potty training, chewing and separation issues. They then become teenagers with all the unpredictability.
4. Examine the dog’s temperament above everything else.
Size and breed can often be misleading when it comes to temperament. As Phillipps points out, her pint-sized Chihuahua, Nena, is a diva, while her 65 lb. Staffordshire bull terrier, Joe, is a sweet, loving animal. “It’s been joyful to have him,” she says. “There are fewer challenges because of his temperament. There is an ease.” She and Minson recommend looking for a happy dog with a calm mental state—one who is play-driven and seeks out human contact. If possible, look at the sire and dam to judge temperament.
5. Understand the breed’s general nature.
While each dog is unique, some breed generalizations can be made. For instance, terriers are little bundles of TNT and can be problematic for first-time dog owners. “I’ve known families that have never seen their terrier sleep,” Minson notes. Chows can be aloof, like cats. Bulldog pups are cute, but grow into 70 lb. bricks, have gas and snore. Vizslas are energetic and if cooped inside “they’ll be up walking on your shelves.”
6. Question the unknown.
Minson and Phillipps support rescue adoptions but believe potential adopters of shelter animals must ask, “Why is this dog at the rescue?” In Minson’s experience, many are not truthfully surrendered and an unresolved (but not unmanageable) behavior problem may exist. Minson recommends a “pre-purchase” evaluation with a professional. “Take the advice,” he says, adding that a professional can assess the dog, how the pet will fit into the home and provide training information.
7. Look at mutts/crossbreeds.
Do you want a dog that lives a long time, will eat anything, love your children and be steady, asks Minson. Then, consider a mutt or crossbreed. Purebreds are not the only option for joyful dog ownership.
8. Last, but not least, spay or neuter your new dog.
“It’s the best gift you’ll ever give yourself and your dog,” says Minson. Spaying or neutering reduces certain cancers, including testicular in males, and eliminates problems such as unwanted/dangerous pregnancy, running away, panting, pacing, and urinating on everything.