How To Select A Family Dog – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist

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Sam Basso
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How do you go about picking the right dog for your family? Getting a dog for your family (adults, plus several kids) is somewhat different than getting a dog just for yourself.

1.) Find a breed (or mix of breeds) that is known to do well as an indoor dog. Some breeds are better suited for the typical family with kids. And don’t even consider getting a dog if you aren’t going to let it live inside with you… outside dogs are always neglected… families lose interest and the dog rots away in the back yard. Here are some things to look for:

  • Not destructive
  • Doesn’t need a lot of training
  • Easy to housetrain
  • Friendly, playful and sociable
  • Medium sized
  • Easily Groomed
  • Not too expensive to obtain or own
  • Can handle a lot of commotion
  • Not too much exercise requirements: that means it fits your climate, activity level, amount of time you can commit to the dog every day, etc.
  • Easy keeper: eats well, healthy, long lived

2.) Select A Breed (Or Mix Of Breeds) That Is Known To Be Very Tolerant Of Kids (if a mix bred dog, be sure to have the dog temperament tested)

  • Sociable
  • Not too sensitive
  • Known to be tolerant of children
  • Not suspicious or fearful
  • Not very protective: no personal protection dogs
  • Not too forceful
  • Not dominant
  • Not stubborn
  • Not anxious
  • Not fragile
  • Not too intense: no specialized hunting breeds

3.) Select A Dog That Will Be Welcome In Many Environments

  • Confident
  • People friendly
  • Animal friendly
  • Highly trainable
  • Good traveler
  • Makes a good impression on strangers

4.) Pick A Dog That Is Good For Everyone, Not Just One Family Member. I have had to explain to parents that it is never wise to get a dog that is only going to bond and work with one person in the home. It isn’t fun to have a dog that doesn’t listen to anyone but that “special” person. It isn’t fun if the dog is a “one man dog”, and doesn’t care for or get along with everyone. And it isn’t good to get a dog if everyone isn’t in agreement. Don’t get a dog if it will trigger allergies for any family member.

5.) Get The Right Size. Medium sized dogs are best for families with kids.

6.) Stay away from rare breeds. Pick a breed, or mix of breeds, that you can research in depth. There can often be misleading information on rare breeds. Play it safe. There is a season in life to get a family dog. There are other seasons in life where other types of dogs will work better for you.

If you don’t know what kind of dog to get, get a Labrador Retriever or Lab mix. It is usually the safest bet for a family dog. You can shop around with experienced hobby breeders and get the perfect dog. Lab mixes are often good, too, and can easily be found at most reputable dog shelters. If you find a dog you like and aren’t sure, hire a professional to do a temperament test on the dog.

LASTLY, IT IS A HUGE MISTAKE TO GET A FAMILY DOG AND NOT COMPLETELY TRAIN THE DOG AND THE FAMILY!!! Even the perfect dog won’t behave well, and will turn into a nightmare, if you don’t train the dog, or you mishandle, neglect or abuse the dog. There is no such thing as a good, happy, loved, UNTRAINED, family dog. It is inhumane to get a dog, not train it, or wreck it, and then give it away to an uncertain (and possibly deadly) future at some animal shelter. They don’t need your dog, they have enough already like that. This is supposed to be a fun thing, and you want this to also teach your kids how to be good to animals, not fear them, and how to care for them. Be an example. Show them how to do it right.