Before you decide to get a dog, determine what your goals are with the animal. Are you looking for the pet to keep you company? To act as a burglar alarm? To help bring you out of your shell and act as an ice breaker? Knowing what's important to you before going to a shelter or speaking with breeders will help you avoid making an impulsive decision and keep you focused.
What are you looking for?
Let's face it — living alone can get lonely. If you're ready to add a dog to your life, choose one that wants the same in return. Camilla Gray-Nelson of Dog Talk Diva notes that some dogs are better suited to human companionship than others. Try to seek out a dog with soft eyes and ears. "As strange as that sounds, I have found that dogs with soft eyes and soft ears are less independent by nature and more desirous of human contact. Soft eyes and soft ears signal subordination in nature!" she explains.
A dog's bark will act as a deterrent for those who are up to no good. The size of the dog isn't the most important factor here since all dogs will bark and draw attention to whatever is going on. Gray-Nelson points out that "even a 10-pound dog can let you (and a potential intruder) know he's been discovered. A smart burglar or criminal will choose the house or apartment without a barking dog!"
Social ice breaker
Anyone with a dog knows that our furry companions attract attention when out and about. A cute dog, unique breed or really any dog will make it easy to strike up a conversation with that cute guy at the park. Your social ice breaker can also be your exit strategy, says Gray Nelson. "If the conversation starts to go south, the dog gives you an easy excuse, 'Oops! We don't want to be late for our vet appointment.' "
Many breeds are capable of providing both affection and protection. A larger dog will look more menacing and even mixed breeds can become protective of their owners, says Lori Morton-Feazell, director of Animal Care, Education & Compliance at PETCO Animal Supplies. When it comes to breeds, she gave us her two top picks:
German shepherd: "These dogs are known for their trainability," she says. "They are also great guard dogs, because unlike Labs or golden retrievers, nothing will stand between a GSD and their owner, when that owner is perceived to be in danger." This breed requires lots of exercise, thrives on obedience training and would offer a high level of protection for the single woman who lives alone. These dogs absolutely require a daily workout and must be owned by a woman who is willing to put them through obedience training.
Doberman pinscher: "A great guard dog, this breed is particularly well-known for its single-minded devotion to one person," explains Morton-Feazell. "These dogs are very affectionate with their owners, though they are naturally wary of strangers."
Whatever type of dog you choose, it's extremely important that the owner is always in control, so make sure your dog is trained properly. This will only further the bond between you and your dog.
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