Decide on an ideal appearance - this may seem like an odd one to start on, bit ultimately you will have a better relationship from the start if you don't go “oo what an ugly dog” or “he has too much fur and I can never see his eyes” or “what a strange looking rat”... You get the picture.
So whether your preference is short or long coats, a certain colour, size or proportion, and how much drool you can deal with, make sure you decide all of this as a family before going any further. This can be a very specific list or a very broad list depending on your preferences.
Why do you want a dog?
Is it because you would like some company while curled up in the evenings? do you want more exercise and would like a companion that can keep up? Would you like to go on long country treks or holidays? Or meet new people and maybe find a new love such as agility or other competition which you and your dog can enjoy?
Once you have decided this you can then start to narrow down the breeds based on the amount of exercise they can do. Remember that each breed has been bred for a certain purpose and although many dogs aren't used for those purposes anymore most of those breeds will still have a good amount of instinct for that chose purpose in them.
How much time can you spend with your dog and exercising your dog each day?
Will they get to see you before work, when you get home then after you have gone out to meet friends? ( if this is the case it may be worth thinking of you have time for a dog at all), can you walk them before work, spend long weekends with them, or work from home. There are lots of different circumstances and a dog to fit most, but remember dogs are social animals so if you are at home for only an hour a day it may not be the best choice at this time and you may consider walking to help a rescue instead until you can have more time with your own dog. If you work think about getting a dog walker or sitter in to give your dog some company and stimulation. Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation, so you can talk them for a walk and play at home, maybe teach some tricks or have a go at a doggy sport.
How much will it cost?
Its safe to say that a bigger dog is much more likely to cost more than a small dog. ( the amount you feed a st Bernard is bound to be more than a Yorkshire terrier!) The cost of general vet maintenance in flea, worm etc is more for bigger dogs.
Whichever size dog you get remember to factor in any flea etc treatments, vaccinations, health checks, insurance, food, collars and leads, bowls and beds, toys and treats as well as unexpected cost such as vet fees, a new car, hiking boots and rain coats!
Who will be looking after your dog?
If the kids have been nagging for years to get a dog and you finally give in, you and/or your partner are probably going to be the ones who end up doing most of the work after the initial excitement phase, are you happy with that? If you work long hours will a dog sitter be able to look after him, can you arrange your work schedules around your dog? Remember dogs are social animals and it isn't fair to them to be left on their own for hours on end, it also isn't good for your home, possessions or relationship with your dog.
Are any family or friends that are helping happy with the breed you would like? If your 90 year old mum is looking after your dog while you are at work a Labrador may be too much, a yorkie might be a better option.
Have you already got another dog?
If so what dog would be an ideal companion? Sometimes the opposite sex is a good choice as they can get on better, although some households have multiple bitches or dogs and have no issues. If your dog is a tiny Chihuahua a huge bouncy st Bernard may not be ideal and vise versa. If your dog is timid don't get a really bolshy dog as this may make your current dog even more nervous.
These are just some of the main things to think about before getting a dog. Whatever you decide enjoy them, having a dog is a fantastic experience for dogs and owners when the match is right.