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You and your family want a dog. The thought of a furry family member brings a lot of excitement. What kind of dog should you bring home? A puppy for the kids? A middle-aged dog? An older dog? What breed? Male or female? You want to be sure you bring home the perfect pooch who will fit right in with your family and lifestyle. How do you find the dog who will fit the bill?

Remember that dogs are a huge responsibility and should be treated as part of the family. You will have to take the good with the bad, especially at first since there is always an adjustment period. It’s also a commitment, so you have to be prepared to bring in a dog for life. Everyone has to be on board with the decision and agree to take part in the dog’s care.

A great place to start

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, breeds (full or mixed) and personalities. The best place to start is at your local shelter or rescue group, according to “Choosing the Right Dog for You,” an article at The Humane Society of The United States (HSUS).

Here are some questions before you bring a dog home:

• What is your lifestyle? Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you have children? Is the family active? “A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision,” the article said. “Remember, you’re not just getting a dog; your new dog is getting a family!”
• What breed? Do your homework about breeds. Also “visit with animals at the shelter and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.” You’re in luck as most shelters have purebreds and mixed breeds. Remember: “Mixed breeds are also more likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs because of over-breeding,” the article stated.
• Visit the shelter. Animals at the shelter are often under a lot of stress, according to the article. They may be scared or lonely, too. Speak with an adoption counselor to help choose the right dog for your lifestyle and spend time with the dog first. Ask the dog’s age, temperament and if the dog is good with children.

When choosing a dog, shelters and rescue organizations are great places to turn. Remember that “6–8 million animals end up in shelters each year, half of which will probably not be adopted,” according to “Adopting from an Animal Shelter or Rescue Group,” another HSUS article. Additionally, “25 percent of pets in shelters are purebreds. Breed-specific rescue groups always have purebred dogs and puppies looking for new homes.”

If you don’t find the right dog the first or second time you visit your shelter or rescue group, be patient because “shelters and rescue groups receive new animals every day, so keep checking back with them,” the second article said. “Some groups also keep a waiting list, so they can call you if an animal matching your preference becomes available.”

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