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Choosing The Right Dog or Puppy For You

Ask Yourself - Are You Sure You're Ready For This Responsibility?Choosing the right Dog or Puppy is very important.

Is dog ownership right or even practical for you?

This cute little bundle of furry fun is irresistible at the minute, but the wrong decision can result in serious problems down the road. To be sure you are making the right choice, please read and consider the following points before you make your final decision.

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Dog Owner?


Responsible dog ownership is more than just adoring and spoiling your new companion. It is a serious lifelong commitment that requires continuous time, energy and training. It even legally requires you to clean up any mess eliminated by your pet when out in public. Don’t forget - when the puppy or dog misbehaves, you are the one who will have to face the consequences.

Can You Afford a Dog?

Basic dog expenses can range from €500 to €2750 annually - this includes a dog licence, vaccination courses, annual booster vaccination and check-ups, regular worm and flea treatments, collars, leads, poo bags, food, bed, fencing if not trained to stay around the garden. Then consider all the little extras that you may want to splurge on for your pampered pooch - outdoor kennel or run, chew toys, frisbees, balls etc.

If your dog develops a health condition or has an accident then you could be looking at veterinary bills ranging anywhere from €50 to €5000 and above. We highly recommend that "EVERY" dog or puppy owner take out pet insurance for your new dog – this is designed to cover a large percentage of medical expenses.

Is Your Home Suitable for a Dog?

Pet-proofing is essential but not quite the same as child-proofing. Our four-legged companions tend to be a bit craftier when it comes to off-limit areas (especially those with edible components). You can hardly expect your dog or puppy to be fully trained on arrival, so there is bound to be the need for rules and training. Do you rent your home? There is no reason renters cannot be dog owners, but you will need to check with the landlord. What about size? An apartment may not be ideal for a Labrador. Do you have children or other pets? You need be certain everyone can live together.

Can Your Lifestyle Fit a Dog?

If you work very long hours or travel frequently, your lifestyle may not be appropriate for a dog. Though a social life is important to many people, does your busy social calendar leave you with just enough time to sleep and work? Think strongly if the adjustments to your lifestyle that may be required are possible to accommodate a dog in your life. If not, now is probably not the right time to get a dog. If you are willing to make the changes, consider the time it will take to provide basic needs such as training, grooming, exercise, and veterinary care. Then, decide if you can make the time.

Do You Have Physical Limitations?

A chronic health condition or injury can make it difficult to care of a dog - especially a high energy breed. Be sure you have someone else who can help when necessary. What about dog allergies? Allergies can seriously debilitate a person, often resulting in the choice to give up the dog. If you or someone in your household has allergies, spend some time around dogs to see if the symptoms can be managed. It is simply unfair to give up a dog for this reason if it can be prevented. If you are disabled in any way, consider getting a specially trained assistance dog - then you will have a companion and built-in helper!

Which Dog or Puppy is Right For Me?

Now to figure out what type of dog is right for you. There are several factors to consider before choosing a dog. Firstly, examine your current lifestyle, your family – especially if you have children or other pets, the size of your house and garden or exercise area. Then think about the ideal size, energy level and age of your new dog and where to get him/her from. Just remember that getting a dog requires firm commitment, a lot of time and patience. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision on the most suitable dog for you and your family.

What Size of Dog or Puppy is Right for Me?

You may already have an idea of size or even the breed and sex you would like but here are some pointers to keep in mind when making your choice.

Small Dogs

Remember that small dogs are delicate and vulnerable. Being stepped on or mishandled can cause serious injury. They can be more sensitive to colder temperatures, so be ready to help keep them warm. Please remember small dogs need obedience training too! Some little dogs can develop “large tough dog” attitudes, to compensate for their lack of inches in height! Be sure you are prepared for this.

Larger Dogs

Larger breeds require more space and exercise. Long tails need "wagging space" to avoid tail injury or damage to household objects and people. Another consideration is cost: the larger dog can mean more expensive things like dog supplies and medical treatments which are based on weight. Training is also important here as a large or giant breed puppy jumping up on or play biting people will injure or scare someone down the road.

Energy Levels

You are probably already aware some dogs have more energy than others. Breed is only one factor that can determine a dog’s energy level, but does not mean you can rely on breed alone to determine how energetic your dog could become in the future. Every dog needs routine exercise, regardless of breed or size, so make sure you can provide it. If for whatever reason you cannot commit to more than one or two casual walks per day, then a lower energy dog, such as a Basset Hound may suit you. If you are looking for a dog that can be an agility competitor or jogging partner, consider a Border collie.

A dog that is barking constantly, digging up your yard, destroying your home, or acting out in some other way is most likely in need of basic training and or extra exercise. Most behaviour problems are the result of excess energy and or lack of rules and boundaries. Unfortunately, many dogs are tied up, re-homed or even face euthanasia because of such a problem that could have easily been stopped with the proper training and exercise.

Physical Maintenance

All dogs need basic grooming; certain breeds need more based on the type of hair coat e.g. long or thick haired dogs require more brushing, short haired, smooth-coated dogs are major shedders, so be prepared to do some extra cleaning up. The correct grooming tools can help reduce shedding. Dogs with long, floppy ears are more prone to ear infections and require frequent and thorough ear cleaning. Certain breeds such as Mastiffs and Bloodhounds drool excessively. If they shake their heads – step back!

Age Factors

Puppies require the greatest amount of training and patience in the first six months. Be prepared for the clean-up required for housebreaking, toilet training and raising your new puppy. Your dog may have accidents in the house or could chew furniture, personal belongings and even hands. All these problems can be solved with some basic obedience training. Patience and fun are a must. You should also bare in mind that your puppy might grow up to be different then you expected as every puppy is born an individual. Just like people there are no two characters alike.

Adult dogs. An adult dog might be a better choice for your situation if you want a better idea of the true size, energy level, attitude, and temperament of your new dog. However, an adult may also require obedience training to fit into your family. Many adult dogs will have been trained and socialised to some degree and will be willing to adjust to their new lives in their new home. It is important if you re-home a dog from the shelter to know if he or she had a bad start in life but do not dwell on it as a new home to a dog is another new start where the past can be forgotten. Dogs live in the present and do not want to hold on to bad memories or any grudge. Senior dogs can also be an excellent choice depending on your canine requirements. Welcoming a senior dog into your family can be wonderful for both you and the dog bringing a little joy to his or her twilight years. A senior dog can be low energy and make a wonderful companion if this is what you want or require from your new dog. Just like a puppy or adult dog your senior dog may also have special needs and training requirements to fit into your family. Unlike a puppy or adult dog, you must know that you will not have as many years with your senior dog. If you are willing to accept the responsibilities, consider homing a senior dog.

Purebred or Mixed-Breed Dog?

Both purebred dogs and crossbreeds or mixed breed dogs will make excellent companions, if carefully chosen to suit your needs and lifestyle. Remember whatever you ultimately choose your new dog or puppy will still need basic obedience training.

Purebreed Dog or Puppy

When you buy a purebred puppy from a registered breeder, you have a good idea about what sort of dog you're getting: its height and weight when grown, what its coat will be like, what its temperament is likely to be and so on. Purebred dogs are more expensive to buy. Generally, purebred dogs have a shorter lifespan. Generally, purebred dogs will have more health problems.

People choose breeds for various reasons. Maybe you want to show your dog. Maybe you find a certain breed’s looks or characteristics more attractive than another.  Perhaps your childhood dog or puppy was a certain breed and as you remember was a very good dog. If this is the case then ask older family members what they remember of him or her as your memory may be biased!

Whatever the reason, if you want a purebred dog, make sure to thoroughly research the breed and breeder. Determine if you are able to take on potential challenges with size, temperament, grooming needs and health problems. Make sure the breed will fit in with your family and lifestyle and remember all dogs have individual characters regardless of breed.

Mixed Breeds

Mixed breed dogs can become wonderful additions to your family. As puppies they can look exceptionally cute and even strange as the big floppy ears and the short legs don’t always make life easy for the puppy and he or she may fall over their ears until they  grow into them. There is no way of knowing exactly how your puppy will look when all grown up. They are generally better natured dogs as they tend to get the good qualities of both, or all breeds involved in their making. They typically have fewer health problems (this is highly variable). They generally life a little longer (of course this is highly variable).

Where to Find Your New Dog?

Once you have narrowed down your options, it is time to start looking for your new dog. There are many options out there, but some are better than others. Research the organisation or person where you will get your new dog from to determine if they are reputable. Then go and see the location where the dogs are being kept to make sure your new dog comes from a healthy environment. Here are some sources to help get you started.

Reputable Breeders

If you choose to purchase a purebred dog, find a knowledgeable, experienced breeder with a good reputation – not a backyard breeder or puppy farm. Ask the IKC, your vet or other dog owners for referrals. A responsible breeder should be willing to show you their premises, breeding dogs and tell you about the parents’ histories. Be certain that the breeder’s home or kennel is clean and odour-free. The adult dogs and puppies should appear healthy and lively. If you are not comfortable with the breeder, do not purchase a puppy.

Animal Shelters & Rescue Organisations

These can be great places to look for a new dog. Though lots of dogs in shelters are mixed-breed dogs, many times you can even find a purebred dog as some are devoted to specific dog breeds. Shelter dogs often have previous training and socialisation. Talk to the shelter staff members and volunteers about each dog you are considering to get an idea of their history or background and personality. Shelters and rescue organisations are typically very selective because they want to match the right owner with the right dog. So be prepared to answer a lot of questions.

You could also try searching online and local papers etc. for adverts for people selling or rehoming puppies and dogs. As with pure-bred dogs be certain that wherever you go to get your new dog or puppy from, the sellers home or kennels should be clean and odour-free. The adult dogs and puppies should appear healthy and lively. If you are not comfortable with the supplier for any reason, do not purchase a puppy.

Be careful about getting your dog or puppy through newspaper ads and signs with statements like “free to a good home.” you might end up with an unhealthy dog.

Making Your Final Decision

When you think you have found the right dog or puppy for you, make sure he or she appears healthy e.g. bright eyed, lively with a shiny coat and good appetite. Make sure you are aware of any special needs the puppy or dog may have (usually due to physical or temperament issues), and be prepared to deal with them from the moment of collection.

Dogs or puppies that show signs of aggression, fear or other behaviour problems will require extra obedience training and patience but does not mean that the dog will be any less of a good companion.

When collecting your new dog from a Breeder, Animal Shelter or Rescue Organisation, request a new dog / puppy pack. This should contain general information about caring for your new dog. Make sure your home is prepared for your new dog and you have a Veterinary appointment for your new addition to be registered at your local vets and given a general check up and any required vaccinations or flea / worm treatments.

  • Congratulations on your new addition.

  • Hollybarn Dog & Puppy Training wishes you and your dog a long and happy life together!

Please consider Spaying or Neutering your dog for the right reasons.

Hollybarn Dog and Puppy Training Ireland – Professional One to One, veterinary recommended dog and puppy training courses, classes and sessions with a qualified dog trainer and behaviourist in your own home.

One to One Dog and Puppy Training in Your own Home.

We also offer dog kennelling and boarding with a difference and for the more problematic pet Residential Dog and Puppy training courses.

Residential Dog and Puppy Training Courses.

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We provide one to one dog and puppy training and behaviour sessions, courses and classes throughout Ireland including Mayo, Galway, Clare, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Longford, Cavan, Westmeath, Offaly, Dublin, Greater Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.