Everything a Canadian should consider before getting a dog

dog in the snow

Have you decided to add a pup to your family? If so, here’s what you need to know before finding your Fido.

Find your best match

Regardless of whether you’re purchasing a puppy from a breeder or opting to adopt, you’ll want to choose a breed that’s the right fit for your family and lifestyle. According to the Canadian Kennel Club, here are the main factors to consider:

  • Size of dog: How large is your home and yard?
  • Coat type: What amount of time, money and energy do you plan to devote to grooming? Does anyone in your family have allergies?
  • Energy level: How much time can you commit to exercising, training or playing with your dog every day?
  • The breed’s original purpose: Do you want to run with your dog? Hunt? Do agility training? Or just snuggle? Many behaviours—such as barking, protecting and retrieving—are instinctive and dependent on breed.
  • Temperament: How much time will you be spending at home? Will the dog be around children? Different breeds also have varying obedience needs, levels of independence or attachment, and aggression levels.

Consider your region’s environment

Short-nosed breeds, such as Boston terriers and French  bulldogs, have difficultly regulating their temperature, making them overheat in the summer and freeze in the winter. Unless you’re about to invest in a doggy treadmill, this may mean they don’t get enough exercise during extreme weather.

To ensure both you and your pet are happy and healthy, ignore the popular trends and consider the practicalities of owning a particular type of dog in your climate. Here are some suggestions:

  • At the cottage: Although doggie lifejackets are on-offer, it may be best to choose a breed that does well around water. golden retrievers, American water spaniels, and mixed breeds all make for the perfect companions at the cottage.
  • In the prairies: With long, harsh winters, many northern breeds thrive in the Prairies. Chow chows, huskies, spitzes and akitas are all examples.
  • In the city: Walking down urban streets, it’s impossible to avoid interactions with other animals, so choosing a social breed is your best bet. Cocker spaniels, boxers, collies and beagles are all options.
  • On the coast: Just like at the cottage, research breeds that love to swim. Check out Newfoundlands, poodles, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, English setters, Irish water spaniels, and Portuguese water dogs.

Look into your municipality’s bylaws

Before you become a pet parent, be sure to double-check on your town or city’s laws. Some breeds are banned in certain areas (pit bulls, for example, are banned across Ontario and in the City of Winnipeg). You may also be required to pay for a license for your pet, including within the City of Toronto. Finally, if you live in a condo building that allows pets, there may be restrictions on the size of pet that you can acquire.

Timing matters

Spring is traditionally “puppy season.” Canadians tend to adopt or purchase new pets at this time of year with good reason; simply put, the task of housetraining a puppy is a lot easier when you don’t have to bundle up before going outside.

However, getting a puppy in the cooler months can have its advantages. You’ll already be in hibernation mode, which means less social obligations and a willingness to stay at home with your pup. Winter housetraining gives you an excuse to get fresh air and may help stave off cabin fever. And with all that time spent indoors, you can start working on your dog’s obedience skills so that they’re read to hit up the dog parks come springtime.