Prior to purchasing or adopting a puppy or a dog, consider the breed’s personality and how it will fit in with your family and lifestyle. Dogs are bred for a specific purpose. This does not mean that all members of a breed will act a certain way but it will tend to predict your dog’s personality and exercise needs. With this knowledge, you can narrow your search down to a few preferred breeds. To obtain information about the breed’s personality/temperament, visit the American Kennel Club (AKC) website.
Do not purchase your new companion from a pet store. Reputable breeders do not sell their puppies to pet stores. Reputable breeders will keep their unsold puppies or adopt them out rather than sell them to a puppy store. In many cases, the puppies that are sold to pet stores come from puppy mills which tend to be more concerned with making money than the health and welfare of the puppies and their mothers.
If purchasing from a breeder, check to see if the breeder is registered with a kennel club such as the AKC. If so, they are required to follow certain registration requirements. You can check with the kennel club to ensure the breeder remains in good compliance. Interview the breeder about their knowledge of the breed and what specific traits they bred for. Request to see the mother and father (if available) so you can observe their overall temperament.
Advise the breeder what you are looking for in a dog and how the puppy will fit into your home. Usually, the breeder can help you match the right puppy of a litter that might best suit your home environment. A reputable breeder’s suggestion should be highly considered since the breeder has observed the puppies’ developmental behavior over several weeks. You should request to be able to visit the puppy litter on at least two occassions spread over a week or more. This will allow you to observe any changes that may occur in the puppies development.
You want to look for a puppy in the litter that seeks attention from humans, doesn’t mind being held, and seeks to investigate new or strange objects rather than run away from them. Personalities within a litter can vary. For a future family dog companion, you want to select a puppy that is in the middle range of the litter. By that I mean, the pup that isn’t the most outgoing, nor the puppy that is at the other extreme of being quiet, shy, and isolated.
If adopting from a rescue organization or a high quality shelter such as the Humane Society of Huron Valley, in Ann Arbor, Michigan gain as much information about the dog from staff. There may not be a lot of information about the dog’s past life. However, the staff can be an excellent source of information as to the dog’s behavior while in their care. Temperament testing of a dog in a shelter is a challenging ordeal due to the shelter environment: the dog is subjected to a new unknown environment, the dog may not be use to being crated or kenneled, the dog may not have good impressions of humans and other dogs, the dog may be scared due to other dogs barking for attention and food, etc.
The shelter environment makes it difficult to determine the dog’s true personality. However, after three days at the shelter, the dog tends to adjust to the new environment making temperament testing more reliable than if done prior to the first three days. You can generally rely on the shelter staff recommendations as they are a dedicated bunch of people who love dogs.
A big plus of adopting from a shelter or rescue is that the dog has been observed and/or evaluated by staff, you can be that dog’s lifesaver, and rescued dogs many times form very close relationships with their owners as they previously didn’t have the attention that they deserved from humans. So if you have room in your home and heart, adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organization. For more information, contact a rescue organization or shelter listed on this website.