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Adopting a Puppy: How to Save Time, Money and Heartbreak

This informative article is about the proper way to go about adopting a puppy when considering a forever family member selection that meshes with your family's lifestyle and the added benefit of dog training in the beginning that creates a safe and happy home.

Image of a properly chosen and adopting a puppy for the family lifestyle.

Image of a happy, well-adjusted family with a properly chosen and adopting a puppy that's great around small children.

I have spent many years doing dog training and behavior modification work. So many times if the owners had just taken a little more time to evaluate their motives and lifestyles and even their particular personalities before adopting a puppy they could have saved themselves from years of heartbreak. There are hundreds of different breeds of dogs for a reason. Each breed has a different function or purpose in life. Granted the majority of dogs no longer do the job they were bred for but they still have those propensities.

Have You Seen any Sheep Around Here?

That means that even though your border collie may not have seen a sheep in five generations she might still try to herd your three children or your seventeen year old cat. Your cute little rat terrier may not know what a rat is but he is probably still sure your daughter’s hamster is a rodent who should be eradicated. Let’s say you want one of those big furry couch potato breeds like a Newfoundland. Guess what?! You have at least two years of giant rambunctious puppy insanity before he settles down to ‘rug dog’ status. By then you’ll probably all be exhausted. If that is not your cup of tea check into some of the breed specific rescues.

I Could Knit an Afghan with all This Hair

And then there is the hair. My own rule is that I don’t own a dog that takes more grooming than I do because I know I won’t get it done. If you are the type that runs around with a lint roller and a Dust Buster DO NOT get a St. Bernard, a Great Pyrenees or almost any of the common herding breeds. They all shed so much fur that you think they should be bald soon. There are a number of low shedding breeds that may be up your alley like poodles, schnauzers, Wheaton terriers just to name a few. All of the low shedding breeds require regular grooming. Poodles and schnauzers require regular professional grooming.

You’re not the Boss of Me!

If you are a small dog person you still have to look at your own personality and what you are looking for in a small dog. I happen to be a fan of terriers but they can be a challenge. Their job description includes “fearless and relentless” which means they back down to no man and everything is up for debate. If you are looking for something a little more peace loving you might think about a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a pug. With hundreds of breeds out there you should be able to find one that’s right up your alley. Still, with any breed there is training. It’s the little things like how do you train a dog or puppy to potty outside? Or come when called? Or not chew up the sofa?

And then there’s the Homework

Once you have narrowed down your choices of breeds the next step is to do your homework on finding the right puppy or adult dog. Find out what kind of health and behavioral issues this breed is likely to have. This is an area where you may really have to do some digging. Great

Danes for instance are purported to be “gentle giants.” Some of them are but a number seem to go back to their early roots of being hunters of wild boar. That takes a strong willed aggressive dog and I have seen a number of Great Danes who bear that out. Labrador retrievers consistently rank in the top ten most popular dog breeds year after year. They are getting overbred and showing up with chronic ear infections, hip dysplasia and a genetic predisposition for pica which is consuming foreign objects on a somewhat compulsive level. It is a very dangerous behavior and the resulting surgeries are very expensive.

Don't forget the Vet.

Your best bet is to talk to veterinarians and professional breeders about your chosen breeds. Most vets can tell you what kinds of things they are seeing in their offices. And a good reputable breeder will ask you almost as many questions as you ask them. Do you have any children? What are their ages? Is the puppy going to an apartment or a house? Do you have a yard? Etc. A lot of the breeders are now having genetic testing done on their dogs before they breed them. It is not a 100% guarantee but you can at least rest assured that the breeder did his or her best to give you a quality healthy puppy. Most of them have a contract with a number of health guarantees. Check it over carefully.

Congratulations on adopting your Puppy!

Once you have located a couple of breeders you like go to their home or kennel. You should be able to see the puppies with the mother without her becoming anxious or aggressive. If she has trouble with people being around her puppies she could imprint that anxiety onto the pups. Seeing the father would be nice but often with professional breeders the male belongs to another breeder. Next the kennel area should be clean and well-lit with opportunities for the puppies to explore and get mental stimulation. Try to visit more than once and at different times of the day. Puppies have ups and downs just like human babies. Now it’s just a matter of deciding which puppy, signing the contract and taking your new puppy home.

Image of the results for adopting a puppy is a big happy family!

Image of a family of dogs after adopting a puppy to the brood.


Laurie Yakish is a dog trainer and dog behavior specialist working in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is certified through Animal Behavior College but more importantly Laurie was mentored by Gary Wilkes who pioneered clicker training and many other groundbreaking behavior modification protocols. Laurie is an active member of IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals). Dog obsessed since she was four years old, by seven she was frustrating the daylights out of her mother by stealing snacks out of the cupboards to use as treats to train her dog Pepper to play high jump.

You can learn more about Laurie and her unique brand of dog training by visiting

1 Response

  1. Great article! This information could have saved my son and his family a LOT of grief. Thankfully their dog is almost at the two years old and calming down age. And you know the Scripture that says trials worketh patience? Truth.

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