How I Met My Dog

Four Essential Tips to Help you Choose the Right Rescue Dog

So, you’ve decided you want a dog.  You’ve done the preliminary prep; crunched the numbers, checked with your landlord, and lined up a dog walker. Now what?

With an endless sea of adorable, adoptable dogs, how do you know which dog is right for you?

Use these four tips to help you find your new best friend without having to comb through hundreds of profiles from dozens of rescues.

Behavior & Lifestyle

Adding a dog to your family is a serious commitment that can and should last at least a decade. There are many factors that come into play when deciding which dog to bring home and surprisingly a pretty face - while important - should not be first on the list. Knowing that the compatibility factors between you and your dog are based more on lifestyle and behavior than love at first sight carry the most weight when it comes to long-term relationship success.  In fact, if you and your dog have behavior and lifestyle compatibility, you can be far more flexible about size, age, and gender.


At How I Met My Dog we will only show you dogs that are suited to your lifestyle so the following chart is meant to help you understand general behavior as it relates to age. Remember every dog is different and some act like pups well into their senior years. Here are some defining characteristics for each of these 5 age groups:

Puppy (8 weeks - 6 months)
  • Playful
  • Typically high energy
  • May be teething
  • Require frequent daily bathroom breaks
  • Typically are not housebroken
  • Need consistent guidance and training
  • Still growing
  • Require frequent exercise
  • Adorable and loving!
Older Puppy (6+ months - 1 year)
  • Playful
  • Typically high energy
  • May already be housebroken and know some basic commands
  • May already be spayed/neutered
  • May already be crate trained
  • Still growing
  • Require frequent exercise
  • Adorable and loving!
Young (1+ year - 3 years)
  • Playful
  • May or may not be high energy, depending on the individual
  • Might already be housebroken
  • Might know some basic commands
  • Might already be crate trained
  • Typically already spayed/neutered
  • Still requires a lot of exercise  
  • Adorable and loving!
Adult (3+ years - 7 years)
  • Playful
  • Depending on individual: plenty of energy or may be more relaxed
  • Typically already housebroken and knows some basic commands
  • Typically already crate trained
  • Typically already spayed/neutered
  • Fully grown
  • Depending on energy level, may still require a lot of exercise  
  • Adorable and loving!
Older Adult (7+ years)
  • Still playful!
  • Typically lower energy
  • May require wellness maintenance
  • Usually Housebroken
  • Usually spayed/neutered
  • Usually crate trained
  • Fully grown
  • Typically require less exercise
  • Adorable and loving!

While these characteristics are generalizations and every dog is unique, it’s helpful to consider these points carefully when choosing the right age range of dog for you and your family. Do you have the time to commit to a young puppy? Do you prefer an older, more established and less energetic dog? Or, are you looking for a dog in between the two? At How I Met My Dog, we recommend considering at least two age groups when filtering your matches.


Size really does matter, but not the way you might think. Considering a dog’s personality size is just as important as considering their physical size. And depending on the size of your home, your dog food budget, and your lifestyle, choosing the right size dog is an important aspect of ensuring a successful match. Smaller dogs in the X-Small, Small and Small/Medium categories require less food and less square footage than larger dogs in the Medium/Large, Large and X-Large categories but can be just as large in personality. Special consideration needs to be taken with X-Small dogs when around young children. X-Small dogs can be easily injured if a child accidentally drops or steps on the dog. If you plan to have your X-Small or Small dog sleep with you, they may need to picked up and put down when getting on and off of tall beds and furniture to ensure that they aren’t injured from jumping. Extra-Large and Large dogs require big spaces to accommodate their big bodies! If you live in a tiny apartment with very little space, an X-Large or Large dog may not be the best choice for your lifestyle. At How I Met My Dog, we recommend considering at least two size groups when filtering your matches. If you have the space for any size dog, don’t hesitate to check all of your filter boxes and increase your number of matches! The How I Met My Dog size filters are listed here:

X-Small (under 10 lbs)

Small (10-20 lbs)

Small/Medium (20-40 lbs)

Medium/Large (40-60 lbs)

Large (60-90 lbs)

X-Large (over 90 lbs)


While gender traits are a real thing, individual personality often trumps gender. Being open to the right fit sometimes means being open to either gender.

  • If not spayed, will go into heat
  • Typically live most successfully with other male dogs
  • Typically live most successfully with other male or female dogs
  • If not neutered, will seek out female dogs that are in heat

*Special Needs

Dogs with special needs come in all ages, sizes and genders. Some dogs with special needs require more hands-on personal and veterinary care than others. If you are willing and able to open your heart and home to a dog with special needs, they will be forever grateful for your love and kindness.

At How I Met My Dog, we like to say that every dog is different and so is every person looking for a dog. No matter how you filter your matches, we will only show you dogs that fit your personality, expectations and training style. So the more flexible you are with your size, age and gender filters, the more likely you are to find not just a dog, but your perfect match.

Completely Custom

No more sorting through hundreds of online profiles. How I Met My Dog shows you only truly, custom matched rescue dogs plus our information-rich dog profiles tell you all you need to know about your matches. 

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