So you’ve decided to get a puppy? Dogs can bring lots of fun, laughter, and loads of love, loyalty, and companionship into your life. But there are a few things you need to know before you decide on the puppy you wish to bring into your home. So I have compiled a getting a puppy checklist that you can use and follow so you know you are getting a puppy that’s right for you.
Things to consider
So the time is right for you and your family to get a puppy and if you have never owned a dog before you may be wondering what you should do first, what you need to get, and how to care for them. You are also probably wondering what breed is right for you.
We have had puppies from breeder’s and rescue puppies in the past so this is going to be some information that we have come across that can hopefully help you out. You may have a favourite breed that you have always wanted to own but will they be suitable to fit in with your lifestyle? Or maybe you just want a dog and have no particular breed in mind. If that is the case, you just need to decide what kind of dog will be the best fit for you and your family. Some of the most important considerations might be the size of the dog or the amount of grooming or exercise they will need, but there are also many other things to consider too.
Different breeds have different needs
Different breeds have different needs, exactly the same as we do, so if you are seriously thinking about getting a dog you need to be honest with yourself and think about things like:
How much time do you have to devote to a dog? A dog is like a child they are totally dependent on you and you will need to be prepared for this, you cannot just decided you don’t want to walk them cause its cold, or ignore them when they want to be let out in the garden while you are watching your favourite programme on TV, plus add to this the general care of grooming, preparing their meals, training etc, it is a lot of time and work and if you already have a family this will be a lot more on top of that, you need to make sure this is something you are prepared to commit to for potentially the next 15 years or so.
Do you work, and will that mean the dog will be left for long periods of time? If you work part-time and will only be gone for a few hours a day then as long as your dog has had plenty of exercise before you leave most dog’s will be fine to be left for short amounts of time. However, if you have a full-time job which means the dog will be left alone at home for long periods of time then that is not really the best situation and you should maybe reconsider getting a dog, there are ways around this though so if you really feel like having a dog in your life is something you want, is there anyone who can look in on your dog throughout the day? A friend, family member or neighbour? If not you could look at maybe getting a dog walker to come and walk them they can spend some time with them during the day just to break up the time they are alone and also another walk will wear them out until you get home, there are also dog daycare places you can take your dog to while you are at work, where they will have lots of fun and is also a brilliant way to keep your dog socialised with other dog’s.
Do you have a garden or area for your dog to spend time outside? Although having a garden is not compulsory when owning a dog, I myself spent a few years living in an apartment with my dog’s and they were happy and healthy, but it is always a bonus as most dog’s love spending time outside, and even those that don’t will need to go out to the toilet, and having a garden will make it much easier when house training a new puppy.
If you do have a garden is it enclosed so your dog cannot escape? When you get a new puppy you must make sure that you garden is enclosed so that they cannot escape, check any fences are not broken and there are no holes in the hedges etc. dog’s love to dig, some breeds more than others so make sure there is no where they can dig their way out, also be aware that when you puppy gets older they may be able to jump over fences, again certain breeds are more likely to do this than others so make sure any fences and hedges you have are high enough to prevent this, an alternative is to have a particular area of the garden sectioned off securely for your puppy you can also get pens and runs that you can leave you dog outside in unattended and not worry they are going to escape.
Will you have time to walk them regularly? Depending on the breed and size of the dog you get, will depend on the amount of exercise they need, again you will need to research this when deciding on the dog you are going to get to make sure you can give them what they need, if you are a very active person and like to spend your time outside and love walking, running etc, then an active breed that needs more exercise would be perfect for you, but if you are looking for a dog as a companion and you are happy to just take it on a couple of smaller walks a day then again there are dog’s that don’t require as much exercise, either that or as I mentioned before you can get a dog walker to come and take them out for you if you are working and do not have the time.
Will you take them to be properly trained? When getting a puppy it is really important that you get them trained, getting your dog trained will make your life so much easier than having a dog that is out of control and does not know how to behave in public places and around other dog’s, when you take them to a puppy training class they will teach you the basics and you just have to make sure you keep up with the training at home, also taking your puppy to training classes is a great way of socialising them with other dog’s from an early age. Make sure you find a good trainer you can inquire with your vets and they should be able to recommend somewhere to take them.
Do you have small children living in the house? If you are bringing a puppy into a house where you have small children, the first thing is to never leave them alone together, even a puppy that is just a baby itself may snap when a child grabs it or does something to unintentionally hurt the pup, plus a new puppy will be scared when it first arrives in the home so will need a quiet place away from the children to get used to its surroundings, this does not mean that they won’t become the best friends but just to make sure you are always aware of where they are, and again it is another time you should be researching the breed that will best suit your lifestyle, for example a breed of dog that is going to grow into a big dog you will need to be aware of around small children as they may be boisterous and knock over and injure a child unintentionally.
Do you go on many holidays and will you take your dog? If not, what will you do with the dog when you are away? We always have holidays with our dog’s every year, we hire a cottage and take them along and we have a great time, they are part of our family so would never consider a holiday without them, that does not mean we haven’t had an odd weekend where we have had to leave them for whatever reason, but we have things in place to make sure they will be looked after. So this is something you will need to also consider when getting a dog, will you take them with you on holiday? If not, maybe for example you go abroad for holidays and if that is the case, you need to think about what will happen to your dog when you go. If you do not have any family or friends that they can stay with or that will stay with them there are options like getting a dog sitter to come stay in your home with them, or you can look at putting them in kennels while you are away, just be aware that the last two options will have an extra expense attached to them that you will have to add on top off what your holiday is costing.
Deciding on the perfect breed for you and your family.
So if you are certain you want a dog you have thought very carefully about what kind of breed will fit in with your family’s lifestyle. You need to know what kinds of things should you look for when choosing a breed and then getting the dog?
The first thing you should do is try to find out more about the breed you want before you get the dog. Read whatever you can about the type of breed you are thinking about getting. It’s really important that you learn as much as you can about the breed you are intending to buy.
Some breeds can suffer from different kinds of health problems, large breeds are more susceptible to joint and bone problems, one of the main ones being hip-dysplasia which is a degenerative hip disease.
Breeds that have short noses are susceptible to breathing problems this is because they may have narrow nostrils or a shorter windpipe, Brachycephalic breeds can also be prone to having a soft palette.
You won’t generally be able to tell by looking at a puppy, whether they are going to have health problems later in life. And not all dog’s of certain breeds will suffer with breed related health issues, but you should always be aware of the potential risks to your dog’s breed so that you can be prepared for any future eventualities.
Grooming should also be another consideration you need to think about before you buy a dog. Depending on the type of coat your dog has they may require daily combing, whereas shorter coated breeds will require a lot less maintenance.
Not only should you research the dog you want, if you are buying from a breeder rather than adopting from a rescue you need to also do your research on the breeder. Here are some things you need to be aware of.
Is the breeder experienced with the breed of puppy you are choosing? Make sure the breeder is knowledgeable about the breed, check how long they have been breeding that particular breed of dog.
Can they answer any questions you have? If the breeder is experienced, then they should be able to answer any questions you ask them without hesitation fully and confidently.
Will they support you if any problems arise with the puppy? If you have any issues or need any help with the puppy find out what the breeder’s stance is on contact with them after the pup has transferred ownership to you, a reputable breeder will have a contract that they will require you to sign that will have all the things they are prepared to back you up with and all the things they require from you as the owner.
Will you get to see the parents or at least the mother of the puppy? Again a reputable breeder should be happy to show you around and where the puppies are living, and the parents of the litter. When you see the mother make sure she looks well cared for and healthy, and her or both parents if father is there should be approachable and should not show any act aggressiveness or be overprotective of the pups. Make sure the puppies are weaned and old enough to leave the mother they should be at least 8 weeks old before they are re homed away from their mother and siblings.
How do they look? Make sure you get a good look at the puppies. Are the healthy and clean? Do they have a bright shiny coat and clear bright eyes? Are their ears clean and odor free? Also do they seem active and inquisitive? Are they friendly and do they come to you when you approach them? They should be happy to be stroked and held and played with, if they shy away or seem withdrawn then be cautious. The breeder should have started to socialise the dog’s before they are ready for re homing.
Do you get a starter kit? Usually when you get a pup from a breeder they will come with a basic starter kit of things you will need, it should include instructions on how to care for them, a small amount of the food your breeder has been feeding them with a meal plan, a list of supplies you will need, and some information on the breed, when I got my pup from a breeder they also gave me a fleece blanket that had been in with the mom and litter mates that had their scent on to keep with my pup for comfort for the first days away from them.
Does the breeder have all the paperwork in order? You should as I mentioned before have a contract that both you and the breeder will sign, if your dog is a pedigree you should have those papers and registration with the kennel club, and also a record of vaccinations they have received as well as worming treatments and the microchip details. If the breed your are having has any known hereditary diseases you should get the test results for those too. For example Alaskan Malamutes can be prone to cataracts and hip dysplasia, so my pup came with her hip score eye test. It should also say in the contract what you breeder requires as far as you being allowed to breed with your dog, and also if for any reason you cannot keep your dog in the future whether they are prepared to take the dog back, most breeder’s especially those of pedigree dog will say in the contract that if the dog needs to be re homed they should be contacted to take it back.
Once you have decided what breed you want, you have researched it and it is going to be a perfect fit with you and your family, you have found a reputable breeder, and you have been to see the puppies and are happy you have asked everything you need to. Then you are all set, the next step is just to wait till they are old enough to bring home and then the fun will begin, we do have a few other blogs that have information about getting a new puppy that will be linked below. If you are getting a dog from a rescue then you will also have to sign a contract they rescue will also want to come out and view your property to make sure it is suitable and also some rescues do not re home dog’s in houses where there are small children and babies. I will cover this in a future piece.
I hope you have found this article helpful, there is a lot of information around about caring for a puppy but not so much about what to do before you get it, and it is really important that you get the right dog for you from a breeder that will support you throughout the dog’s life if need be.
Just remember to ask about everything you can think of that you want to know and don’t be afraid to, a good breeder will be prepared for whatever you ask and happy to share the information as they will want their dog to go to the best home possible. And final tip always read the contract and make sure you are happy.
Enjoy your new life with your new best friend.
Here are some other articles we have on getting a new puppy, feel free to take a look