Phase 1: Do a Self-Assessment
Excerpt from Dog Training: A Lifelong Guide Training Your Dog
Why are you adopting a shelter dog? To save a life? A noble notion but not very practical. “Never go to the shelter with the idea of feeling like a hero by rescuing a dog nobody else wants,” says Sternberg. “You’ll only set yourself up for problems down the road. Go in with the attitude that you want to select a really great dog. Take your time and be choosy. After all, this is a pet that may be with you for ten, twelve, or more years.”
Assess yourself honestly to determine if you are even a candidate to be a dog owner. Answer the following:
- Do you work long hours, come home, and just want to plop in the chair?
- Do you travel a lot for work, spending days, even weeks away from home?
- Do you want a dog for companionship or protection?
- Do you live in an apartment or a house?
- Do you have a fenced-in yard or a nearby park that permits dogs?
- Are you willing to take your dog on daily long walks?
- Will you groom and bath your dog regularly?
- Can you afford a dog, providing him with food, pet supplies, and medical attention?
- Can you accept a dog snoozing on your sofa?
- Will your weekend plans include activities with your dog?
You should want a dog for companionship and not to guard your prized family heirloom vase or expensive stereo system—that’s why home alarm systems were invented. Just having a dog in your home will deter most small-time thieves, but a dog’s role in the home should be as a member of the household and not solely as a four-legged burglar alarm. Dogs require a lot of time and responsibility so you want to be sure you are up to the task before you adopt.
Now, make a mental picture of your ideal dog based on personality, not looks. After all, a dog’s size, age, gender, and physical markings, which are all important, are not as critical as a dog’s temperament. Ask yourself:
- Who is your favorite dog in the world and why?
- What is the dog’s personality like?
- How old is this dog?
- What does the dog look like?
- What do you envision your dog doing when you arrive home?
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