Choosing a Puppy
Nell was a gift for Christmas for my mum Sue. She had been talking about getting a puppy for some time; she works at Bristol HPC HQ looking after the Bristol boarders and day cares for the last 5 years. She also manages the team and team leaders and is in charge of recruitment for the company.
There are only 2 people that I could
ever buy an animal for
- 1) Myself
- 2) My mum
This is because animals are a huge commitment and you should be making the decision to commit to a lifelong animal. Even when you have made up your mind you should be approaching it all with caution. Animals and puppies in particular are for life and the commitment is HUGE.
Choosing your breed
I chose a standard poodle for sue because she has a vast experience with the poodle breed, she’s asthmatic and so a breed that doesn’t shed would suit best and because she understands the breeds needs. Each breed comes under a category named a breed group. These are:
a) Working- Bred for guarding and search and rescue, the Great Dane, St Bernard and boxers.
b) Pastoral-dogs that are associated with working cattle such as collies, Samoyed and old English sheepdogs
c) Hounds- Bred for hunting by sight and scent such as the Whippet and the Greyhound
d) Toy- bred to be small companion or lap dogs. Such as the Chihuahua, shih Tzu and Pomeranian
e) Utility- non sporting miscellaneous breeds such as the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle.
f) Gun-dog- Bred for Hunting Pointing and Retrieving. Retrievers, Spaniels, Pointers and Setters
g) Terrier- bred for endurance, Jack Russell’s and Fox terriers
Each group contains various breeds and if you can understand their breed purpose you will understand more about the exercise and stimulation they will require throughout their life time. For example terriers love to dig, so you could provide them with a sand pit to fulfil their natural instinct to dig. Collies love to stalk and chase, you could use ball games and send away games to fulfil this instinctual need.
When you choose your puppy you need to think about
- 1) Lifestyle
- *exercise commitments- Different breeds require different exercise levels and stimulation, For example a Chihuahua would not need the amount of exercise that a Doberman would require. But all breeds require brain stimulation, love and play!
- *time- Do you have time to commit to a walking and training routine, most breeds would require at least an hours walk a day once mature.
- *grooming commitment- all breeds require grooming some more than others, poodles and any crossbreed containing poodle coat would require grooming every 6-8 weeks
- *money- feeding, grooming, vet fees, insurance, toys, treats and training all cost
- *work and other commitments, be prepared to take an initial bit of time of work and/or change working patterns for the foreseeable. Getting a good dog walker or pet sitter for times when you will be out of the house or at work.
- 2) Your age/Physical abilities
- *fitness levels- can you walk 5 miles with a dog that requires it?
- *disabilities/age- do you have any disabilities/age concerns that would prevent you from walking a dog that needs it?
- *will you need a dog walker/carer if you are unable to walk your dog?
- 3) Others in your household
- *children- have you prepped your children about puppies? Are they all happy with a new addition?
- *ages- are your children old enough to understand dogs and puppies need space and can bite?
- *Other dogs- are your other dogs mentally and physically sound enough to cope with a new addition?
- *other animals- are your other animals used to dogs or are they secured in cages where necessary for transition and introductions?
- 4) Your house and garden
- *size- is your house big enough for a new addition?
- *structure- do you have a safe area where your new addition will feel relaxed and undisturbed when needed?
- *security- is your garden secure to prevent escape?
Research your breed
- 1) There are many different sites you can look at to research different breeds and get to understand what the commitments are of each.
- 2) Attend dog shows and ask breeders about the breed to get an idea of what to expect
- 3) Champ dogs http://www.champdogs.co.uk/ and the kennel club http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/ both have lots of information about breeds
- 4) Local vets/dog walkers/behaviourists and other professionals may be able to give you a background of a breed and a small indication of what it is like to own one.
- 5) Rescues and charities often have puppies for adoption but they are generally not advertised, get yourself on their lists if you wish to adopt rather than buy
- 6) Question breeders when researching on the phone; ask about temperaments, exercise, grooming, feeding and stimulation.
- 7) Find out about common health problems in the breed.
- 8) Once you have decided your breed go a visit a few different litters to compare the puppies, make sure you see mum and dad and make sure you are happy with every aspect of their care whilst with the breeder.
- 9) Make sure the breeder has vet checked the puppies and that the puppies are of 8 weeks of age, micro-chipped and vaccinated before leaving parents
- 10) Check pedigrees and health certificates for the puppies and their parents.
- 11) Take note of the home in which the puppies are kept, inside the house/outside in a shed and the conditions that they are living in, people that live with the puppies and if there are other animals living in the same environment, these can all have an impact on behavior and developmental stages of your puppy.
Remember a puppy that has come from a good breeder has a head start in life; this will make training, transition and everything else much easier. If you spot something during visits that doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t, ask questions and alert authorities if needed.
Picking your puppy
There is no hard and fast rule of picking YOUR puppy from a litter things to look for –
- *good body condition
- *feeding well
- *calm and relaxed
When I picked Nell from the litter, I was looking for a puppy that was around medium size in the litter (not the smallest not the biggest) One that was confident but relaxed and one that interacted with me. Nell picked me to a degree during my first visit at just 2 weeks old she licked me all over my face and followed my voice around the puppy whelping box.
The transition from breeder to home
Having chosen your puppy you need to prepare in advance of them coming home with you. Visit your puppy a few times before bringing them home this will create a nice early bond and make the transition away from the litter and parents much easier. On the last visit around a week before collection take a blanket and leave it with them at the breeders home until the collection date, this will then have the smell of the parents and offspring ready for them to have as a safety blanket when coming home with you.
Make sure you have everything ready
before they come home.
- *puppy pads (if required)
- *Water and food bowls
Puppies will need time to acclimatise themselves to the new environment I recommend picking the puppy up in the morning so they have all day to spend with you and bond before bed time. Keep feeding as the breeder suggests for the first few days whilst they settle in. I would take a week or two off work to help settle them in.
I hope this has helped you understand how much thought should go into any new addition, when and who to buy for, matching a breed to your lifestyle, research, comparisons and questions to ask breeders and helping your new addition transition into your household.