4.04.2010

Picking The Right Dog

"I can only have a small dog in an apartment because I don't have time for a big dog".

"Greyhounds are maniacs. They need to run all day long."

"The bigger the dog, the less appropriate an apartment is."

"My grandmother had a Jack Russell Terrier who was great with kids, so they are all great with kids."

As a trainer, I hear things like this on a near-daily basis. Not all small dogs are great for the typical apartment life. Many small dogs actually require tons of aerobic activity. If they don't get their energy needs met, they can become anxious, destructive, and may exhibit a multitude of undesirable traits - like barking. Jack Russell Terriers are a classic example of a high energy, intense, smart little dog, that requires much more than life on a sofa.

However, some big dogs are great for apartments - including the Greyhound. Greyhounds can get up to 85 pounds, are tall, well muscled, and are 40 mile-an-hour couch potatoes. People typically think of the Greyhound on the track, racing after the mechanical bunny and assume all Greys must run ALL THE TIME. It's not true. Some need to get their ya-ya's out every day, but for the most part, a 20 minute walk, twice a day, and a trip to the dog park on the weekend will satisfy many Greyhounds.

Just because your grandmother/mother/neighbor had a dog that was great with kids does NOT mean that all dogs in that breed will be great with kids. If you're looking to get a dog that will be great with kids, go to a reputable breed rescue for the type of dog you are looking for. Many of these dogs will be living in a foster home where you can ask the foster owners if the specific dog you are looking at will fit nicely in a home with children. I would also recommend that kids and dogs are not left alone, unsupervised, ever. Even the most trustworthy dog, if poked in the eye by an inquisitive kid, may snap.

Do your homework, look at the personality traits of a breed on the whole, but use that only as a guideline. Breed traits are not set in stone for each dog within that breed. The individual personality of a specific dog is way more important than blanket assessment of "big dogs vs small dogs" or "all ________ are _________".