Ferndale dog trainers hold talk on how to pick the right dog

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published December 16, 2015

 Sarah Maki, a head trainer and dog walker at FIDO Personal Dog Training in Ferndale, brought her adopted dog, Sprocket, to an event held Dec. 9 at the Ferndale Area District Library to provide information on things to consider when adopting a dog.

Sarah Maki, a head trainer and dog walker at FIDO Personal Dog Training in Ferndale, brought her adopted dog, Sprocket, to an event held Dec. 9 at the Ferndale Area District Library to provide information on things to consider when adopting a dog.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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FERNDALE — Does everyone in your household want a dog? And if you get a dog, do you really have time to give it the exercise and attention it needs?

These questions, and more, were discussed by FIDO Personal Dog Training during a free dog adoption informational event held Dec. 9 at the Ferndale Area District Library. The presentation was meant to educate families on the questions they should ask before deciding which dog to adopt, or any dog at all.

“We see a lot of people coming in with dogs that are maybe not the best choice for their household, because they have very high energy or are very vocal dogs living in an apartment,” said Sarah Maki, a head trainer and dog walker at FIDO. “The choice was made without planning on how that dog would fit into their life. They can make better choices with the dog they select, and we want to guide people to make that right choice.”

Maki, along with fellow dog walker and trainer Laura Witkowski, urged those in attendance to have a discussion about what everybody in their family wants in a dog, and then explained how to go about finding the right dog.

Witkowski said the first conversation to have is to make sure everyone in the home is on board with getting a new family member.

“You need to think about why you really want a dog and when you picture a dog in your family, what pops into your mind,” she said. “Is it long hikes, snuggling on the couch, and is it a big or little dog? You can kind of start there and really assess your family’s activity level and be honest, because some dogs need to go on runs every day, but there are plenty of lazy dogs who don’t need as much exercise.”

Witkowski and Maki both had their adopted dogs on hand to show the connection and to allow people to connect with them.

Witkowski said she had adopted a greyhound at 2 years old and it lived to be 14. When she had to get back into the dog adoption scene, she said she wasn’t sure where to start, and even though the dog she ended up adopting didn’t meet all of her criteria, she worked with the dog at FIDO.

“Even folks with a lot of experience with dogs go through some growing pains, and a transition period can be challenging,” she said. “When you overcome that and settle into your life, you can sometimes forget that transition phase. All dogs are individuals, and even when you hear all Labs are like this, just because a dog is a certain breed, you can’t expect particular traits to be there.”

Maki said one of the first things to consider when thinking about adopting a dog is how much time you have to devote to a dog. While some people want a puppy, they may work 10 hours a day and have busy social lives or kids and don’t have the time to care for a puppy.

“You have to think about your activity level, and a busy working breed may be best with an active person, but you need to think through the time you can spend with a dog,” she said. “Plus, there are the financial implications, and people don’t think about vaccinations and supplies and boarding and grooming. Pick a dog that works best for you, as opposed to picking based on their looks.”

 Both trainers said it is important to make a good decision on where to get a dog. Witkowski said breeders may seem like a natural choice, but you need to consider why the breeder is breeding, as well as how the dogs are treated.

When going through an adoption process, Witkowski said extra hurdles may seem unnecessary, but those adoption groups may work with you more after adoption to make sure everything goes smoothly.

And even if you want a purebred, Maki said shelters could have exactly what you want.

“We are big advocates of adoption from shelters or rescues or fostering,” she said. “If you do decide to go through a breeder, you need to ask the right questions. And there are purebreds in rescues and shelters, so you may very well find one without going through a breeder.”

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