Important: Preparing for a relationship with a dog should be considered carefully. Perhaps you are looking for a special relationship. In that case focus on compatibility of personalities. Perhaps you are expecting a dog who will perform specific tasks. In that case focus on skills and abilities. It is not fair to the dog to ask it to be someone it is not or to do something for which it has no aptitude.
Choose a dog whose behavior will be a good match for your life. Do you need a dog to:
Snuggle at home?
Safely share a home with children?
Stay quiet in a crate?
Relax in a hotel?
Relax in busy settings?
Enjoy training in agility?
Compete in dog sports?
Hike in the wilderness?
Play with other dogs?
Type of dog
Choose a purebred for:
Predictability of what puppy will become
Risk: Not all puppies grow up as expected – some may have abnormal characteristics
Choose a designer mixed breed for:
Qualities you cannot find in any purebred dog
A breeder that you know and trust
Risk: mixed breeds are less likely to produce predictable results, so more likely to have a range of characteristics
Choose a rescue dog to:
Give a dog another chance
See something of what you are getting in the adult dog
Risk: a dog may not behave in your home as it did in the foster home or shelter where you met it
Source of dog
Choose a breeder:
Who does health screenings on the parents
Who applies best practices in socializing puppies and starting house training
Risk: even careful precautions cannot prevent the unexpected
Choose a rescue:
That is an established 501(c)(3)
That is strict about making a good match
That does not adopt out dogs that have bitten
Risk: even the best operations are understaffed and, although caring, staff are often not very knowledgeable
Age of dog
Choose a puppy under 12 weeks to:
Be able to shape the puppy’s world view
To put in all the time and effort required to raise a puppy to suit your lifestyle
Risk: Early mistakes in training can have life-long consequences
Choose a dog between 16 weeks and 2 years to:
Re-train the puppy to suit your lifestyle
Enjoy the adolescent dog on the road to becoming who they are going to be
Risk: the puppy may come with a world view that cannot adjust easily to your lifestyle
Choose a dog over 2 years to:
Get one that has adjusted to life and shows adaptability*
Get one that already has some polite behaviors which are compatible with your lifestyle
Risk: surprise behaviors that do not show up when you first meet
* A dog that does not show adaptability will have a hard time adjusting to life with you.
Choose a dog based on behavior rather than appearance.
Behaviors that show promise for easy training:
Enjoys being touched
Looks at you, especially your face
Growls during play
Behaviors that indicate issues to overcome:
Stays at a distance
Remains constantly vigilant
Growls and freezes
It bears repeating: Preparing for a relationship with a dog should be considered carefully. Perhaps you are looking for a special relationship. In that case focus on compatibility of personalities. Perhaps you are expecting a dog who will perform specific tasks. In that case focus on skills and abilities. It is not fair to the dog to ask it to be someone it is not or to do something for which it has no aptitude.