Whether you’re passing by an animal adoption event or watching TV and Sarah McLachlan’s In the Arms of an Angel comes on (right after an Allstate Insurance mayhem commercial, no less), it’s hard to resist the big brown eyes and floppy ears of a dog. But as any dog parent will tell you, there’s a whole lot of work that goes into caring for them and making sure they are happy and healthy. That’s why, if you’ve decided you’re at the right place in your life to take the plunge into doggy parenthood, you must to do your homework first and make decisions based on whether you can meet the dog’s needs rather than simply picking the cuddliest one.
“It’s always important to take into consideration your lifestyle,” Rescue Manager Cindy Sczcudlo of North Shore Animal League America said. “Are you the type of person who goes running and wants a dog who can go running with you? Are you going to be taking it for lots of walks or the dog park or are you looking for more of a lapdog? These are the kinds of things you need to take into consideration, not just, ‘Oh, I think that dog is cute.’”
A great way to start your dog search is by researching different breeds and what they typically need and considering how that fits into your lifestyle. Let Sczcudlo help you get the ball rolling.
For Families With Children Under Five
Having a dog to help care for can be great for kids. It can teach them about responsibility, compassion and friendship, but if you have a toddler in the middle of his terrible twos, it’s important to have an even-tempered, friendly dog.
Cindy’s Suggestions: Golden Retrievers or labs. “They’re great family pets. They have friendly personalities and can be active and fun,” she said. She recommends bringing the whole family down for a meet-and-greet with the potential dog, something many shelters require.
Living in an apartment can make it difficult to have a dog with breed restrictions and no fenced-in yard, but it’s certainly not impossible. Because of breed and size restrictions, a smaller pup might work best, especially if you’re only going to be able to take the little guy on a few walks a day rather than spend hours at the dog park with him.
Cindy’s Suggestions: Shi Tzu or Maltese. “I think if you live in an apartment you have to keep in mind that you don’t have a yard and the amount of exercise the dog is going to need,” she said. “Generally, I would say a dog that’s not going to require as much exercise, more of a lap dog. Definitely check with your management company to see if they have breed or size restrictions.”
Perhaps you’re a regular on the road-racing circuit or maybe you’re just looking to get in shape. Some dogs make for great workout buddies and can even provide a little extra motivation to get out there on a day that you’re tired. After all, everything is more fun with a best friend.
Cindy’s Suggestions: Shepherd mix or cattle dog. “They really like to be active and will enjoy running with you,” she said.
We live on an Island, so trips to the beach are like trips to the grocery store: they happen on at least a weekly basis, even as we move into fall. Some dog breeds are water fiends, too, and are more than happy to dash into the Long Island sound to fetch that frisbee or stick you threw.
Cindy’s Suggestions: A collie. “They usually do well in the water,” she said.
Though having a good idea of common traits and personalities of different breeds is important, you still need to get to know each dog as an individual. “Animals are little souls that have different personalities and have had different experiences,” Sczcudlo said. “It’s just important to work with the shelter staff to make the best match.”
Also, consider a mixed breed, or as North Shore League America calls them, Mutt-i-grees. “They’re really just as wonderful as well. They have great personalities,” Sczcudlo said.