guest posts, pets

Guest Post: Thinking About a Puppy?

We are out on our two week camping road trip, enjoying the summer sun in the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. I have lined up some fun guest posts for you all.

This post is by our good friend and dog trainer Denise Stringfellow. We became friends after taking many training classes from her when Mulligan was a puppy and have enjoyed watching her grow her business, becoming the go to place for dog training and day camps in the area.


jimandmulliganAssuming that you are prepared to have a puppy in your life and that you have the time necessary for such a joy….er, challenge, then the next step is to go about getting one! There are many things to think about as you begin your journey, but the first and most important one is this: What type of dog matches my family’s lifestyle?

Why is this so important? Because dogs aren’t given up to shelters because they won’t ‘Sit’ or ‘Down.’ No, most often they are given up because that “adorable puppy” grew into an adult dog who became completely incompatible with the family’s needs, desires, and activities. For example, you might like the looks of an energetic Siberian Husky…but if you dislike dog hair, lead a sedentary life, and live in a small apartment – a Husky is probably going to be a disastrous choice for you. Or, you might love the beautiful red color and short coat of a Vizsla. But if you work full time, dislike cleaning flappy ears, and cannot commit to exercise the dog at least 1-2 hours daily (yes, even in the snow and rain) then this breed will drive you nuts.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down the breed options:

  • How do you live, are you active or not very active?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you work all day or will you be able to be home during the days?
  • What are your needs/wants?
  • What are your time /energy limitations? Are you able to take daily walks?
  • What are the reasons you really want a dog?

Once you have used these questions to narrow your choices, here are two things you can do that will help you to make an intelligent, informed choice:

First, run your breed preferences by someone you trust, and who knows you well. See if your breed choice makes sense to someone who can be objective, and if it doesn’t – be prepared to get a second opinion or reconsider your selection.

Second, read the book “Paws to Consider” by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. Unlike most breed books, this one is arranged by owner lifestyle, rather than by dog breed. Among others, you’ll find good options for the City Dog, The Nine-To-Five Dog, and the Low Shed Dogs, including pluses and minuses for each breed type. There’s also a handy section I wish all my clients would read: The Not-For-Everyone dogs.

For more tips on getting ready for Rover, read more (link)

Denise Stringfellow is the owner of Riverdog Canine Coaching in Issaquah, WA. As Riverdog’s principal owner, and head of coaching and training, Denise has been improving the relationship between dogs and owners in the greater Seattle area since 1996. She shares her life with her husband, Scott, and a circus of three kids, nine sheep, six cows, two horses, four cats, and Doberman puppy, Kix.

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