Welcome to Lesson 2!

Five Big Mistakes when Choosing a Dog

This lesson is all about getting you thinking – thinking about what people have told you about choosing dogs in the past that often isn’t true.  It’s also to stop you making those same mistakes.

When people dive into choosing a dog, usually they base their decisions on something they’ve heard someone else say. In many cases, the person they’ve this heard from is simply repeating what someone’s told them, and so on.

A lot of nonsense about dogs is passed on this way, and not just about choosing dogs either. These ‘sayings’ about what to do and what not to do are the cause of a lot of distress for owners and their dogs, because the ‘conventional wisdom’ actually isn’t wisdom at all!

So in this lesson I’ve listed five big mistakes when choosing a dog. These mistakes are repeated many millions of times, by many millions of people, every year.  Some people make all these mistakes when choosing their dog and then wonder how they got into a mess. I think you already know the answer.

I hear this rubbish day in day out, and it makes my blood boil, because it’s really not that simple!

Mistake no 1 – It’s better to get a puppy than an adult.

Nope. Whether it is or isn’t depends on your lifestyle.  If you work full time and there is no-one in the house from 8am until 6pm, then a puppy is going to be a big problem.  Puppies need constant attention, training and socialisation.  When I say constant, I mean constant.  An 8 week old pup needs you in its life for most of your day. It needs feeding 4 times a day, taking to the toilet every couple of hours, time spent training it to respond to its name and basic commands, time to spend snuggled up with you asleep, play time and once all the vaccinations are done, ‘socialisation with other dogs’ time.  It’s a massive commitment and far more demanding and exhausting than most people realise. Puppies and working households often end in disaster – chewed and soiled carpets, wrecked furniture, dug up gardens and so on.  Even buying 2 puppies in a working household is not a good idea – you just get double the trouble.

Mistake no 2 – It’s good to go for a popular breed.

Not always. Just because a breed is popular does not mean it’s a good dog to own, or a good dog for you! It just means a lot of people have them. The Labradoodle is a superb example of what can go wrong when a breed becomes fashionable. Labradoodles were bred first in Australia and tested for a woman who was allergic to the usual ‘seeing eye’ service dogs.  This gave rise to the complete myth that Labradoodles are guaranteed to be safe for everyone with dog allergies.  That’s not true, but you look on the internet at the number of breeders advertising their ‘Doodles’ as hypoallergenic. Equally, other very popular breeds have really suffered because puppy farmers (and smaller scale breeders only interested in money) move into the fashionable breeds when they see them taking off. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you can easily choose a poor quality, mass produced dog with multiple health problems and a short life span. Also the popular breed might be all wrong for you anyway! There are many excellent breeders in popular breeds, but you have to know how to find them.

Mistake no 3 – Small dogs need less exercise than big ones. 

Not always. Wrong again. The common myth is that a small, cute, fluffy dog can’t possibly need more exercise than a tall or large one.  This again is simply not true in all cases and it has to do with what the dog was originally bred for. All dogs have some basic purpose in life.  Do you know someone whose garden is full of holes from their bored fox terrier?  Well that’s because terriers were originally bred for digging rats out of holes on farms all day.  The purpose behind the dog breed (or breeds in the case of cross-breed dogs) defines their characters and the amount of exercise they need.  There are some small, cute dogs that were bred for all day work and who need TONS of exercise. On the flip side, some large dogs are extremely ploddy, gentle giants and can even do well in apartments.

Mistake no 4 – I’ll get a dog for the kids.

This is one of the biggest mistakes any parent can make – giving in to pester power and thinking the chores will be shared. Only get a dog ‘for the kids’ if you’re prepared to do all the work anyway.  That’s all the walking, feeding, grooming and so on. Don’t expect your kids to take an interest in anything requiring work on or for the dog for more than 2 weeks.  After this time the novelty’s usually worn off and you’ll be lucky to find them even playing ‘ball’ with it in the garden.  That is unless you really are very lucky, or have a child that wants to be a dog trainer or a vet.  If you are getting a dog because the kids want one, make sure as a parent you also want one and are willing to put in the effort required.  One of my friends who is a dog breeder let a puppy of hers go to a family with children where the mother was at home all day, thinking it would be in good hands.  She took the puppy back off them because the mother was finding it too much hassle to even let the puppy out into the garden to do its business.

Mistake no 5 – I’ll just choose what I like the look of.

This is the biggest mistake of all.  Most people think life with a dog is going to be all fun and frolics and smiles and kisses.  I can tell you, after owning 12 dogs over 17 years it most certainly is not.  My latest ‘offspring’ is an adopted rescue saluki whippet crossbreed who has boundless energy and extremely bad manners. Even for me, he is incredibly hard work.  But if you’re bitten by the ‘must get a dog’ bug it’s really difficult to sit on your hands.  So ‘most people’ go off and pick the first cute or handsome thing they see and bring it home.  But they soon realise it needs more exercise, time, care, etc (fill in the blanks) than they can possibly give. And it ends up back at the breeders if it is a lucky puppy, but more usually passed off to another unsuitable home, on the free ads, in a rehoming centre or just dumped on the streets.

Some people make all these mistakes together and then wonder why their life becomes a nightmare.  It’s not the dog’s fault – it’s just that people make the wrong choices. The dog they chose isn’t matched up with their needs and lifestyle.

There are many more mistakes that people make, besides these.  In fact there are about 16 common errors (which I’ve listed in the book), any of which can get you the wrong dog. You need to avoid them all to be sure of choosing your dog correctly.  Once you know what these are you can really focus on how to choose well.  And you can do it first time, and every time.

Lesson 2 coursework

Which of these mistakes were you in line to make before you picked up this e-course? And why would you have made them?

Remember, all this will be given to you in your couse book at the end – no need to make notes!

A link to Lesson 3 is coming soon in your e-mail.

Bev x



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