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Picking the perfect puppy for your family

Aaron Hill Certified professional animal trainer and the owner of Pets in the City Pets in the City

There are as many options for selecting the right puppy for your family as there are types of families and living situations. A family with older children on a farm in Virginia will be looking for a different kind of dog than a young couple with a newborn in New York City. Follow this expert advice to help you through this important family decision.


Do be realistic

Being honest about your family’s needs as well as the dog’s needs is the first step in finding the right pet for you. Once you’ve seen those puppy dog eyes it will be hard not to welcome him home. So being realistic about how much time you have and what the needs of a certain breed are is crucial. For instance, if you live in a small high-rise condo, a dog like a Beagle that needs lots of space and exercise isn’t the best choice.

Do explore adoption options

Once you’ve determined what kind of dog you want, it’s time to determine where you’ll find it. Many shelters have more animals than they can handle, so when you’re adopting a dog you’re literally saving a life.

Do research rescue centers

If you have a specific breed in mind that you really want, do some research to see if there is a rescue group in your area. You may have to do a little more work to find the exact age or sex you want, but it’s worth it because just like shelters, you are giving a pup a second chance at finding his or her perfect family.

Do interview a breeder

If you are set on purchasing a dog from a breeder, they must be licensed. Be sure to visit the breeder’s home, and check references to make sure you are not supporting a puppy mill.


Do not make an impulsive decision

Deciding to become a pet owner is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Most dogs will live a decade or more, so before you fall in puppy love be sure it is a decision your are really ready to take on.

Do not take on more than one dog at a time

It can be difficult to pick just one pup out of a litter of adorable puppies, but you don’t want to take on more than you can realistically handle. Puppies take a lot of time and attention and even as they grow older the demand remains the same.

Do not support puppy mills

One of the biggest risks in getting a puppy is falling victim to the cute and cuddly dogs without thoroughly doing your research causing you to unknowingly support a puppy mill where dogs are treated inhumanely.

Unfortunately, pet shops have a long history of getting their pups from puppy mills. So before making a purchase from a pet store, check their credentials and ask where they get their puppies. You should only shop at stores that get their pups from rescue shelters.

Do not forget to foster

Welcoming a new dog into your home take a lot of work and commitment. Especially for first time dog owners it is important that they don’t adopt a dog without first fostering it. Almost all rescue groups and shelters will allow - and even encourage - prospective families to foster a pup for a few days to make sure it’s a good fit for everyone. The last thing you want to do is adopt a dog then realize it is too much responsibility for all involved.

Jumping cartoon

Choosing a puppy is a big decision with lots of options. Whether your family lives on a farm in Virginia or a New York City apartment, there’s a perfect puppy breed for you. Once you have done your research and have a breed in mind, do be sure to get your puppy from a rescue shelter or a reputable breeder. Choose carefully and decide on just one perfect puppy. Puppies are wonderful but they do need your time and attention, so starting with just one is a good idea.

More expert advice about Choosing a Dog

Photo Credits: Puppy Love By Flickr:; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Aaron HillCertified professional animal trainer and the owner of Pets in the City

Aaron Hill is a certified professional animal trainer and the owner of Pets in the City ( a premiere Dog Walking / Pet-sitter service in Los Angeles. He is certified in pet first-aid and CPR and is a member of Pet-Sitters I...

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