Before You Fall in Love: Finding the right dog to fit your family. Part 1.

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This is an excerpt from Linda’s book, Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual, available to download here.

A new dog romping around the house provides constant entertainment and unconditional love, but be prepared to train, exercise, and care for that puppy or rescue dog for a lifetime. When you make the decision to bring a dog into your family, it’s a serious responsibility that requires forethought and commitment. Once you fall in love, it’s often too late to turn back. Plan carefully and choose wisely. Here’s how.

Choose a dog that fits your lifestyle and family

All puppies are adorable so make a list of

  • Must have traits
  • Flexible traits
  • Won’t have traits

Stick to your list. All breeds can be either wonderful or problematic with children, depending on whether or not the dog and the children have been trained to interact appropriately with each other. Children under six years of age are particularly challenging to safely introduce to a dog for parents who may already have their hands full.

In order to provide a proper “forever home”, choose a dog or puppy that fits your family, home, and lifestyle as well as possible.

Consider a dog’s:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Activity level
  • Breed
  • Average longevity
  • Predisposition to medical problems
  • Hair length/shedding and grooming maintenance needs

Learn how to care for the new dog before you bring one home. You wouldn’t bring a human baby home and then figure out how to care for it. has an informative free resource you can download to help you prepare your family and home for a new dog, Before You Get Your Puppy, by puppy guru, Ian Dunbar, DVM, Ph.D.

Preparing your home for your puppy

The first week at home will be the most important week in your puppy or new dog’s life. Proficient housetraining, chew-toy training, and separation anxiety prevention training should begin at once. See these articles for more information: The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Housetraining (blog coming soon) and Chew This Not That.

Your dog is likely to be a “character”…but that’s truly part of their charm! Most importantly, choose a dog or puppy breed that will be a good fit for the primary caretaker and your family. Choose a dog that is the right size for you. If you love lap dogs, a large or giant breed may be too big to sit on your lap, although Great Danes have figured out how to do it! Choose a dog whose activity level matches your family’s activity level. If you are a couch potato, a herding breed may not want to lay around the house with you. Choose a dog whose personality and genetic traits match your family. If you’re looking for an easy-going house pet who is a social butterfly, dogs bred to guard may not suit you. Whatever dog you choose, remember that you’re making a lifelong promise to not only care for your dog and meet their needs, but to train them using Do No Harm™ methods.
The next post from Linda’s book describes what to look for when adopting a dog or puppy, as well as how to choose a good breeder.


Learn more about pet parent problem-solving, teaching classes, and private consultations in the Do No Harm Dog Training Manual.

Dog Training Manual Do No Harm Force Free Positive tranier san diego del marThe Do No Harm™ Dog Training Manual was designed as my own personal guide for teaching basic manners classes, and evolved into a reference manual for my private behavior consultations. Created as a practical guide for either or both training formats, it is also helpful for pet parents who want an inside look at dog training and behavior, as well as for those who seek force-free solutions for specific problems. Written with love for the “heartbeats at our feet”. You can purchase and download the PDF ebook dog training manual here.

Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” M.A./Psychology a Top Ten Rated U.S. Dog Trainer — Del Mar Dog Training, may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: for private manners/obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at  All rights reserved.


Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, Del Mar Dog Training, serves clients in Del Mar and San Diego County from La Jolla to Carlsbad, plus Rancho Santa Fe, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Linda Michaels was recently rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, by Top Ten Magazine. Linda has a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology (Hons), and is the creator of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs™ (HDN). She focuses on the psychological aspects of dog behavior that often mirror human psychological conditions, such as: fear, separation/attachment disorders, and aggression toward humans and other dogs. She also teaches private, customized basic manners/obedience lessons for dogs of all ages and every breed.

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