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Brandon McMillan’s 4 Tips for Choosing the Right Dog

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 2, 2020 • 3 min read

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Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), there are seven dog breed groups (Working, Herding, Hound, Sporting, Non-Sporting, Toy, and Terrier), with 195 individual dog breeds split between each group. All these different breeds have varying personality traits and require distinct care regimens, so how do you know which breed of dog is best for you? According to expert dog trainer Brandon McMillan, there’s no right or wrong way to choose a new dog. What’s important is finding the right dog for you.



Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog TrainingBrandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

Expert animal trainer Brandon McMillan teaches you his simple, effective training system to build trust and control with your dog.

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A Brief Introduction to Brandon McMillan

Brandon McMillan is a renowned animal trainer who has spent most of his life working with domesticated and wild animals. The Emmy Award-winning host of the critically acclaimed CBS series Lucky Dogs comes from a family of wild animal trainers—Brandon began helping raise tigers by the age of four. After spending a year training a service dog for an injured combat veteran, Brandon realized his calling was in training dogs to change people’s lives. To further his goals, Brandon co-founded the Argus Service Dog Foundation, an organization that trains service dogs to assist veterans with disabilities.

Brandon McMillan’s 4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dog

When scouting which type of dog is the best dog for you, Brandon McMillan suggests taking four things into consideration:

  1. Your home: Do you live in an apartment or a house? Do you have a backyard where the dog could easily head outside for exercise and to do their business? The size and characteristics of your home should correlate to the activity level and size of the dog you're considering. If you live in a small apartment without accessible outdoor space, it's not going to be the best environment for a German Shepherd or Golden Retriever. Instead, a low-energy small dog is a better idea. If you have both ample indoor and outdoor space, small and large size dogs are both viable options.
  2. Your schedule: Do you have the free time needed to properly train a puppy? Will you be able to provide a high-energy dog with enough daily exercise? "Puppies are wild, they're crazy, they're curious about everything," Brandon says. "But the adult dog is much more calm. They're experienced, and they have a much more stable personality." If you have a hectic schedule and anticipate that a high-maintenance dog may be a struggle to care for, instead look for an older dog with a lower energy level.
  3. Your lifestyle: Do you like to go hiking, camping, and running, or do you prefer leisurely neighborhood strolls? Whatever your answer is, match yourself with a dog who loves a similar lifestyle. For example, dog owners seeking a dog who’s up for any amount of exercise may enjoy an energetic Border Collie, while dog owners who prefer to hang out at home may enjoy a lap dog like a French Bulldog.
  4. Your wallet: Can you afford the comparatively high costs of buying a dog from a breeder? Can you afford to feed a large dog or a dog with special dietary needs. A purebred dog purchased from a reputable breeder is going to cost a pretty penny compared to a mutt (mixed breed dog) from a shelter or rescue organization. The price of dog food also varies greatly depending on the dog's size and health conditions. For example, while large dogs are typically more expensive to feed, some small senior dogs are prone to health problems requiring dietary restrictions or prescription diets. Between food and treats, veterinary care, toys and equipment, grooming, and training, dogs are an investment, so make sure to choose the right breed for your budget.
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