adoptingYou may have always owned Golden Retrievers. When one passed away, you didn’t have to think very long or hard about which little ball of fur you’d bring home next. Or maybe instead of sticking with a certain breed, you’ve chosen your dogs based on which one stole your heart at the animal shelter.

However, as you get older, so many different factors come into play when choosing the right canine companion. Below are a few of the things you should carefully consider:

Puppy or adult? While puppies have a definite appeal, not least of which is how adorable they are, they can be a whole lot of work! They’re moving almost every second of the day, they chew and have accidents, and they often require more of your time than adult dogs. Their health and temperament are also a bit of a mystery (case in point: while the six-month-old puppy I adopted was a perfect angel at the shelter, he destroyed my house as soon as we got home).

With an adult dog, however, you generally have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting after a few walks and looking through her vet records. A senior dog may be an even better fit for your lifestyle, and if you’re adopting the pooch from the shelter, you may also be giving her a new lease on life!

Size matters. Large dogs are great protection, plus you don’t have to bend over to pet them. However, the disadvantages for senior owners may far outweigh the benefits. While you might’ve been just fine controlling that 70-pound dog a decade ago, he could easily knock you over or pull you down these days. Not to mention, if he’s unable to walk on his own, you may not be able to pick him up to put him in the car for a trip to the vet.

With a small dog, you can easily scoop him up, manage him on a leash and even slide him under your seat on an airplane. But there is such a thing as too small! Because it’s just harder to see a tiny dog, he might get under your feet and cause you to fall, if you’re not careful.

Energizer dog? Like people, certain dogs are simply more energetic than others and need to be exercised regularly and vigorously. While walking your dog and playing fetch can be good exercise for you, there’s a fine line between healthy and a handful.

The best way to determine whether you can manage a particular dog is to spend time with her. Ask to walk her, with someone along to help out should need it. Does she want to go faster or further than you’re comfortable with? Take her into a room and simply hang out with her. Do you need to entertain her every second or does she quickly settle down?

Bottom line, look beyond the sweet, furry face and wagging tail and find a dog with whom you are truly compatible. That forethought will make all the difference … not only for you but also for your dog!

Share how you chose your dog.  What was your experience adopting?

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