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How to Strike a Match

Goal: Students will understand that not all dogs are the same, and that before adopting a new dog, a household should first determine that the dog they are adopting will fit their lifestyle.

Grade Levels:
1st–8th grade
Time: 20 minutes
Audience Size:
5–20 students


  1. Students will recognize lifestyle traits that could be compatible (or incompatible) with a particular dog. (Examples: size of house, current pets, number of children in the home, yard, etc.)
  2. Students will name dog traits that may make a dog incompatible with one family, but compatible with another. (Example: breed, size, personality, friendliness with other animals, activity needs, grooming needs, etc.)

Materials (one for each group):


A dog’s breed, size, age, personality, activity needs, likes, dislikes, and other factors all come together to make every dog – and every dog’s specialized needs, unique. For example, while all dogs require some degree of grooming, some dogs, particularly long-haired breeds, may require more frequent grooming.  Even dogs of the same breed will have varied needs. Whereas an old Labrador retriever may not require intense exercise, a 6-month-old Labrador retriever may have a high drive for physical activity. A home that is suitable for dog may not be a good fit for another.


  1. Divide students into groups of 4–5 individuals.
  2. Give each group one of each card.
  3. Instruct each group to work together to read each card and to match each dog with the ideal owner.
  4. After each group has matched up their cards, draw a simple chart on the chalkboard showing which dog the groups chose for each fictional family.

Speaking together as a class, ask students why they thought a particular dog  would be compatible with the family they chose.

In real life, what might happen happen when…

  •  stay-at-home apartment dwellers choose a playful puppy?
  • a family with kids chooses an easily frightened dog?
  • frequent travelers choose a dog who gets car sick?

*EXTENSION: A great resource for children to learn about dog breeds is the show Dogs 101 on Animal Planet. Short, three-minute clips detailing common breeds can be found on

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