1) Will this be your first dog? If not, what experience do you have owning/training dogs?
- Yes, it would be my first dog. I've never had dogs in my family as a child either, always cats. I might be adopting with my boyfriend, who has had dogs before. I really want a dog eventually, but right now I'm in the research stage as I won't be out of university until the end of the year. I'd want to make sure I have a good job and living situation and feel out what my schedule would look like in terms of available time before I commit to getting a higher-demand animal like a dog.
2) Do you have a preference for rescuing a dog vs. going through a reputable breeder?
- No preference, but a rescue dog with aggression or behaviour issues wouldn't be suitable both because I'm not experienced enough to handle that, and because I have a cat who's happiness and safety is very important to me. In addition, I would like to have children in the next 3-4 years (so within the hypothetical dog's lifetime) so I'd want to make sure I'd have a dog that would be good around kids.
3) Describe your ideal dog.
- Medium to large size, friendly, affectionate, easy to train and/or eager to please, good with cats or has a low prey drive, good with children, moderately active.
4) What breeds or types of dogs are you interested in and why?
- I've been looking into the typical lab and golden retriever types. I also love the look of Bernese Mountain dogs and I've heard that they're gentle and fairly easy-going despite their large size. I think that Australian Shepherds are absolutely beautiful and I love their coats, but I believe they would be too much of a challenge as a first-time owner and I would worry about them around kids and my cat as I've heard they can be nippy. I would definitely be open to mixed-breeds or mutts if they have the temperament I'm looking for.
5) What sorts of things would you like to train your dog to do?
- Probably the basics like obedience and a few tricks. I would 100% want to enrol in puppy classes/ obedience classes, honestly mostly to learn about how to be a good owner and trainer for my dog. I obviously want a good dog but I also want to be a good, responsible owner. I think those crazy agility classes and super advanced tricks are a bit out of my scope at the moment.
6) How long do you want to devote to training, playing with, or otherwise interacting with your dog each day?
- Probably about an hour a day, not necessarily all in one chunk though. It might look something like a morning play session and then an evening walk and play/training session. And then obviously interspersed with lots of pets and interaction while I'd be at home, but not like intensely "dog-focused" time.
7) How long can you exercise your dog each day, on average? What sorts of exercise are you planning to give your dog regularly and does that include using a dog park?
- I would be able to walk a dog for about an hour a day. Once again I might need to break it up into a shorter morning spin around the block and then a longer evening session. I'm not a runner myself, but would consider using my bike to tire it out faster or giving it a weighted vest if a walk wouldn't cut it. I also like to hike on the weekends and would love to bring my dog with me on dog-appropriate trails!
Dog parks are plentiful where I live and I like the idea of them, but they also make me a bit nervous. I wouldn't want my dog to get hurt by someone else's dog, and would definitely want to make sure my dog had good recall and interacts with other dogs well before I'd let it off leash in a park. If I were to end up with a smaller breed, I might not take it to a park just because I've heard too many horror stories of them getting attacked and hurt.
8) How much regular brushing are you willing to do? Are you open to trimming hair, cleaning ears, or doing other grooming at home? If not, would you be willing to pay a professional to do it regularly?
- I already have a long-haired cat so I've already resigned myself to a house covered in fur. I brush my kitty regularly and love the bonding aspect of it, so I'd enjoy brushing a pup! I'm open to learning how to clean ears and trim nails, but I'm not sure I would be confident enough to trim fur or do more involved grooming tasks. I would take my dog to a professional for anything the dog needs that I can't do myself.
9) What size dog are you looking for?
- I would like a medium to larger dog. I know I've mentioned my cat a ton but I already have a 10 pound furball to cuddle, I would like something a bit more substantial in a dog! If I were to get a quite large dog, I would really make sure to focus on obedience and socialization when it was young because I'm not a very big person and it's not like you can just pick up a 100-pound dog and take it out a bad situation like you could with a terrier or whatever.
I don't have any interest in toy or mini dogs. I'm sure they can be wonderful, but I just don't want one.
10) How much shedding, barking, and slobber can you handle?
- I'm fine with shedding, my cat coats my entire life in fur already. I would prefer to have a dog isn't yippy or barks incessantly. I'm not looking for a guard dog and there is a solid chance I would be in a condo or townhouse type environment so I would want to be respectful of my neighbours.
I'm a little grossed out by dogs that are suuuuuper slobbery or really soft jowled. I don't mind a little slobber, they are animals, but the really saggy-mouth dogs like St. Bernards, hounds, bulldogs etc is a bit much for me.
11) How important is being able to let your dog off-leash in an unfenced area?
- I'm pretty ambivalent on this point. It would definitely be cool to be able to throw frisbees and stuff for them in the park, but I would only want to do it if I was positive I had verbal control of the dog and it wouldn't run away or attack other dogs. Safety first, basically.
I would love to take my dog on hikes but would keep it leashed for its safety and the safety of wildlife. It's the rule in the provincial and national parks near me anyway.
Dog Personality and Behavior
12) Do you want a snuggly dog or one that prefers some personal space?
- I would love a snugglebug!
13) Would you prefer a dog that wants to do its own thing or one that’s more eager-to-please?
- I think an eager-to-please dog would be helpful for training it. As a new dog owner I think a really headstrong pup would be too frustrating for me.
14) How would you prefer your dog to respond to someone knocking on the door or entering your yard? How would you prefer your dog to greet strangers or visitors?
- I can understand a woof or two as reaction to someone knocking on the door or coming into the yard but I wouldn't want a dog that loses its mind whenever someone walks by on the sidewalk. I would definitely want a dog that approaches in a friendly way. I don't want a mean, scary snarly dog at all.
15) Are you willing to manage a dog that is aggressive to other dogs?
- Mmmm I don't think so. A lot of my friends have cool, chill dogs and I would like my dog to get along with them. I would feel like it was a failure on my part if I had to muzzle my dog in public. I don't have the experience to work with a dog to lessen that behaviour either.
16) Are there any other behaviors you can’t deal with or want to avoid?
- I would like to avoid a really destructive dog. I know a lot of destructive behaviour comes from a lack of stimulation or exercise so I'd do my best to meet my dog's needs, but if there's breeds that are more predisposed to be shredders I'd most likely be better off avoiding them.
17) How often and how long will the dog be left alone?
- It could depend on the jobs my partner and I end up with. He might get a field job with something like a 14-14 rotation where he would be gone two weeks and home two weeks. I'm more likely to end up with a Monday-Friday office job. So just to be safe, let's say there wouldn't be people home Monday-Friday probably something like 8-6.
18) What are the dog-related preferences of other people in the house and what will be their involvement in caring for the dog?
- My partner has experience with dogs and he would be an active participant in caring for the dog.
19) Do you have other pets or are you planning on having other pets? What breed or type of animal are they?
- I have an awesome 6 year old cat. He's very gentle, pretty timid. I love him very much and would only bring a dog into the home if I was pretty confident they would get along. I've read stories on the internet where people are like "I got a dog and they and the cats were getting along so well, until he ate one of them! Oops!" That is NOT acceptable to me. My existing cat is more important to me than bringing home a dog, and I would rather have no dog at all than a dog and a dead cat.
20) Will the dog be interacting with children regularly?
- Not right away but a baby is in my 5-year plan so the dog should be adaptable to that. It would be heartbreaking for me to have to rehome a dog because of children as I consider my pets to be family.
21) Do you rent or plan to rent in the future? If applicable, what breed or weight restrictions are on your current lease?
- I might be in a renting situation for a few years but would be looking to purchase a home once my partner and I had some money saved up. It can be hard to find places for larger dogs and especially any "bully" breeds where I live. No weight restrictions where I live right now that I know of.
22) What city or country do you live in and are you aware of any laws banning certain breeds?
- I'm in Alberta, Canada and I don't think there are any breed bans here.
23) What is the average temperature of a typical summer and winter day where you live?
- Summers are pretty mild but can hit 30C on occasion. Winters can be very cold, temperatures in the -30 to -20C are pretty common and can get even colder on occasion. However, sometimes it can warm up in the winter to above freezing for a few days.
It's still a ways off because I want to give my future dog the best possible life, but I'd love some ideas as to what kind of dogs would be a good fit. Thanks in advance for any advice!