What steps can a family take to have that great family dog? What things should a family consider in deciding whether or not they really want and are really ready for a family dog?
- Recognize that this is a very important decision for your family that will impact you for 10-15 years. If you have young children, it will likely affect whether they as adults decide to have a family dog.
- Do not rush! Look at rescue groups, talk with breeders, ask questions of your vet. In other words, be informed. The wrong dog can be a nightmare and the right one a blessing. Consider the age of your children and whether they are really interested in a dog. Remember that most dog bites occur to children under 6 and most involve a dog that belongs to the family or a friend of the family.
- Pick a dog that will likely fit into your family and lifestyle. Be open minded about the breed(s) and age of dog. Just because your neighbor down the street has a gorgeous well behaved 8 year old Golden Retriever doesn’t mean that a Golden Retriever puppy will fit seamlessly with your family. Do some research about the breed or breeds. It is not entirely about picking the “right” breed. We are talking about individuals as well.
- Be prepared to socialize, socialize, socialize! A happy well adjusted puppy doesn’t just happen overnight. Socialization requires exposure to the world at a pace that is determined by the dog or puppy. Some dogs are fearless but many are not, and exposure to the vast world must be done in a way that the builds confidence and trust.
- Plan on taking a training class. And plan on training your dog and exercising your dog on a daily basis. You and your children will bond more and have more fun together if you do.
We all dream of that perfect Lassie-like dog. And many are willing to work at having a great family dog. It is never without some hurdles but it is well worth the effort.