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How Do I Choose My First Dog?

There's nothing more exciting than being a first-time dog owner. In fact, there are more than 75 million pet dogs in the United States. But it's one thing to think about owning a dog and another to live with one.

Although you may have had a dog while growing up, your lifestyle as a kid or teenager was very different from your lifestyle now as an adult. That said, it's important to consider the size, breed, and temperament of the dog you're looking to buy or adopt to make sure you're a good fit for each other.

Here are three important questions to ask yourself when you're considering getting a dog to help you make the right choice when you pick your new furry friend.

How much do you exercise?

When you consider getting your first dog, odds are you'll try to talk yourself into getting certain breeds. After all, many breeds of shepherd dogs are incredibly beautiful. But there's a good chance you won't develop good habits overnight just because you have a new dog.

Remember that you're responsible for your dog, not the other way around. It's up to you to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise for their size and breed or else you run the risk of endangering your new dog's health.

If you're not very active, consider getting a dog that only needs a daily walk or two to satisfy their exercise needs. Short-nosed breeds, like bulldogs and pugs, don't tolerate a lot of exercise and prefer daily walks instead. However, shepherd dogs and retrievers like to run around and would do well with an owner that has an active lifestyle.

What does your house look like?

This is a great question to ask when you're not sure about the size of dog that's best for you. If you live in an apartment, smaller dogs are often best not only because they have more room to move around but also because you'll be able to find more living options that accept smaller breeds.

On the flip side, if you live in a house with a backyard, you could easily make a dog breed of any size happy. Just be sure that your home, whether it's a house or apartment, is pet-friendly in terms of how your dog will get around.

For instance, some dog breeds can develop hip problems as they get older. This can make it difficult for your dog to climb several flights of stairs to go out for a walk or to go to the bathroom.

Do you have any kids in your life?

Even if you don't have kids of your own, it's important to consider how a dog breed you're considering interacts with kids if you have nieces, nephews, or godchildren.

Certain dog breeds, like Australian shepherds, don't do so well with small children or seniors because they follow so close to their owners that they can cause them to fall over. It's for this reason that Aussie shepherds are actually referred to as velcro dogs.

Other dogs like Bichon Frise and golden retrievers have a playful, calm temperament that makes for easier handling. Just be sure to teach the kids in your life how to interact with dogs safely, no matter the breed, and always supervise.

When it's time to adopt or buy your first dog, you want to be sure that you and your new furry friend will live well together. By asking yourself the questions above, you can put yourself on the right track to buying or adopting a dog that's great for your lifestyle.

Head of Content, reality TV watcher and lover of cookies. emma@shared.com