Find out all about choosing a puppy...

Choosing a puppy may seem like a no-brainer. A quick trip down to the pet shop, pick out the cutest, smartest puppy, take it home; live happily ever after. This is a long way from the reality of the situation. The first thing that you need to do is to--be honest with yourself.

You need to ask yourself and every other family member concerned some serious questions.
  1. Does everyone in the household want a dog? Is anyone opposed to the idea?
  2. Can you afford to have a puppy? There’s the initial expense of buying a puppy. Vaccinations, worming and possibly other future vet bills, such as neutering. Then there’s the weekly food bill. There’s a dog owner's essential equipment to buy. Other possible bills like pet insurance, boarding kennel fees if you go on holiday.
  3. Are you willing to devote the necessary time, love and care that looking after a dog will demand from you? A young puppy can easily consume a great deal of your time. Your going to have to socialise, exercise, groom and train your new pal. This is an ongoing responsibility for around 14+ years.

If your responses to any of these 3 questions was negative or even ambiguous please think again about getting a puppy. If you answered an emphatic yes to all of these questions, then welcome to the club. Your in for a truly rewarding time, few things can give you as much pleasure as raising a puppy. So lets look at the other things that need to be considered once you’ve decided to get a puppy.

A handful of pups!

Perhaps you already know what type of dog you want. Your sure that the type of dog that you’ve chosen will fit in with your domestic set-up. But you still need to consider a few things:
  1. Is there just you at home? Then all of the responsibilities of looking after the puppy will naturally fall on your shoulders.
  2. You and just one other? Are you going to share the responsibilities? Or is one person going to do the walking, feeding, socialising, training? Do you intend having a family in the near future? Where does the dog fit in to that?
  3. A family with young children? Children can pressurise parents in to getting a puppy. Is that your situation? They kid's are probably telling you that they’ll exercise, train and feed their new pet. Unless you’ve got exceptional kids--the dog is going to be your responsibility.
  4. Other animals in the household? You need a plan. Whether its existing dogs or cats, how you introduce the new puppy to them is vital for future good relations.

What type of puppy should I choose?

This is the next big question. Again you have to consider your own domestic set-up and your own particular lifestyle. Some breed types need more exercise than others; do you like to walk? Some grow to be much bigger and stronger than others; are you robust enough for this challenge? Some breeds include very dominant, boisterous individuals; could you cope with this type of behaviour. Some dog breeds need far more attention given to their grooming; have you got the time, inclination or cash for this?

You may have your heart set on one type of breed. Then check out the breed characteristics and see if they are going to suit your personality, your domestic set-up, and your family’s lifestyle.

On this Dog Breeds page you’ll find a detailed overview of several of the most popular breeds of dog. If the type your looking for isn’t there check out the resources below.

These National Kennel Clubs also provide details of animal shelters and rescue organisations. Perhaps an older dog might suit your circumstances better, or you might want to consider a crossbreed, who can be endowed with the best characteristics of both parents. The choice is yours.

Where do I get my puppy from?

Finding a puppy isn’t to difficult. Making sure that it’s healthy, and that it’s been bred from healthy parents is another matter. Those two points alone will narrow your search down considerably. If you go to a pet shop or a similar trader in animals your not going to find out very much about the parents. Your going to be dealing with a salesperson whose job it is to sell.

No reputable dog breeder would ever consider any type of transaction with a pet shop. Likewise, steer well clear of the Puppy Mills. You can recognise these from their widespread advertising, and the variety of puppies being offered. You have been warned!

Finding a reputable breeder. How do you go about that? The Breed Club of your chosen breed should have a list of members who have puppies available; now or in the near future. These people know that good health and temperament are the cornerstones of good breeding, and they should go out of their way to help you with all of the details about your chosen breed.

Your can google for a breed club’s website-just make sure that it’s the official one. Usually there’s a forum where you can ask questions; be sure to take advantage of this resource.

Which puppy should I choose?

When you go to visit the breeder, that you’ve done your research on, your going to be met with a litter of 8 week old healthy, bouncy puppies. So how do you pick your puppy? By watching them. You’ll soon recognise some pups deferring to others. One or two that seem to do exactly as they please without repercussions.

Most reputable breeders will give you plenty of time to reach a decision, allowing you to handle and stroke each puppy that you like the look of. Take your time, remember that each puppy is an individual, with a distinct character, and a personality that is already starting to develop. You can usually distinguish the different characters within a litter.

  1. There’s the dominant type, frequently the largest, because without careful watching, he’ll get more than his share of the food. This puppy bosses the litter. He may well try to boss you.
  2. There’s the shy type. He’s likely to be in the background. He’s waiting for you to make the 1st move.
  3. There’s the timid, tender type of puppy. He’s often bullied by his littermates. This type of puppy will often be tied to your apron strings, needing re-assurance as he meets the challenges that socialisation will bring.
  4. The rest are the pack. Within the litter they’re constantly challenging each others position. With proper training this puppy will follow the examples that you set; recognising your stature within the household.

Reaching a decision can be made a little easier by narrowing down the field, Ask the breeder if you can interact with one or two puppies that you like. Stroke her, play with her, talk to her. Then ask yourself if you think that this puppy is the one that is the best fit to the circumstances in your home. And, that your going to care for, love and be responsible for it , for the next 14+ years. If you can emphatically say yes. Then congratulations you’ve just succeeded in choosing a puppy!

Here's some useful resources for finding the right breed type for you:

The American Kennel Club.

The British Kennel Club

The Canadian Kennel Club

The Australian Kennel Club

This is just one segment of our puppy-training guide.....

Funny dog!

So why not find out about Caring for a new puppy.
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