Column: Let’s get a dog!


Commentary by Kelly Kolodkin

Choosing a furry friend is easy, right? Some like to think so because it is an adoption or purchase of the heart. Thus, how can our choice potentially be a wrong one?

Well, unexpected consequences can arise when good thought and research is not considered in your decision. Behavioral problems, separation anxiety and regret can be some of the major problems that arise after an impulse pet addition.

As a dog trainer and former veterinary technician, I have seen my share of puppies, adolescent, adult and senior dogs. I have heard a wide variety of reasons as to how a dog came to be part of a family, from shelter adoptions to strays found along the road. The common denominator in all the stories, simply, is the tender heart of a person who wanted to add a furry friend to their family.

There are many questions to consider when you’re deciding to adopt or purchase a dog:

  • Is there a breed I am passionate about and why?
  • What size dog do I want and why?
  • Have I researched the inherent breed traits of my potential new pup?
  • How big is my home and do I have a fenced yard or park nearby?
  • Do I have the time to put in at least two walks a day (with a yard) and three-plus walks a day (without a yard) for proper exercise?
  • Do I want a lap dog or a more adventurous canine?
  • Do I want to potty train in the winter months or during more pleasant weather months?
  • Do I have the time to put into puppy training in the most formative puppy months?
  • Can I be patient and consistent with training and not give up on my dog?
  • Do I have the monetary means for a dog?

A story I hear all too often, especially from young families with children and seniors, is that they have added a herding breed to their family and that the dog nips at their heels or is running after the kids purposefully.

These traits are inherent to herding breeds, and once the pet owner accepts this information, we can discuss ways to work with the behavior and find a training plan that will work.

Ultimately, I subtly ask if they did any research before adding a herding dog to the family. Some say yes, but many say they did not.

Kelly Kolodkin is owner of Kelly’s Kanine Pet Services, which offers dog training, daily walks, pet sitting and pet photography. Learn more at