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So you're thinking of getting a puppy?

So you’re thinking about getting a puppy but have you considered everything before making the leap? Here's a few bits to help you make that decision

 

Lifelong

Acquiring a puppy is a lifelong commitment. Most dogs will live for 10 years + and there will be both behavioural and medical challenges throughout their life that you will need to be prepared for.

 

Do you really want a puppy?

Whilst it can be amazing to raise a puppy into adulthood, it is also exhausting! Your puppy needs constant management and supervision, the house needs puppy proofing, puppy needs to go to the toilet every 30-60 minutes, they may wake you up in the night, they can’t be left for long periods on their own, they can be curious and destructive both in the garden and in the house. If this sounds like too much, you may want to consider adopting an adult dog who already has a level of maturity and understanding.

 

What breed should I get?

As a household, consider what you want in a dog. What size would you prefer, how big is your house and how expensive will they be to maintain. The bigger the dog the pricier everything is.

Do you want an active dog or one that will calm down after a year or two, how much exercise can you provide?

Are you happy to have a dog that sheds, are you able to maintain regular grooming, can you afford to send the dog to a groomer?

If you have selected a breed, what were they bred for? Are they bred to be active? Aloof with people and dogs? Guarding breeds? This will all have an impact on your puppy’s temperament.

What medical conditions are associated with your puppy’s breed?

 

Where is your puppy coming from?

It is often assumed that getting a puppy means you can shape them into your dream dog and getting a rescue dog will mean they have baggage or problem behaviours. A lot of dogs end up in rescue through no fault of their own. They have had good upbringings and been well cared for prior to ending up in kennels. These dogs are often the dogs that people purchase as puppies and no longer want or can no longer care for. Acquiring a puppy doesn’t make them immune to behavioural and medical problems.

 

Should I rescue?

Rescuing a dog can bring so many benefits and teach you so many lessons. You are coming home with a grown dog and whilst you may not be able to shape their personality, you do know what you’re getting. Most rescues will give you an idea of what to expect and offer behaviour support once the dog is in the home.

 

Rescuing a puppy from a kennel or private rehome can also have its challenges. Often their upbringing is unknown, you don’t know the parent's health or temperament. They are not blank slates and can be prone to developing challenges as they get older. On the whole, though, mixed breed dogs do tend to be healthier!

 

Finding the right breeder

It is important you search for a reputable breeder for the breed of your choosing. Most good breeders will have a waiting list so you may need to be patient whilst you wait for the right puppy to come along. Unfortunately, licensing is not required for breeders, so anyone can mate their dogs and sell a litter of puppies. The Kennel Club runs an Assured Breeder Scheme that vets breeders. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the breed, the parents or the puppies themselves.

 

How to choose the right puppy

When selecting your puppy you should be able to see them with their mother who, along with the father, should have proof of health screening. The mother should be friendly, confident and caring towards her puppies. The puppies should be in a home environment and should remain with their mother until they are at least 8 weeks old. A good breeder will allow you to visit multiple times if you wish. Never agree to meet a breeder somewhere that isn’t their home. Look out for anything suspicious that might indicate the puppies haven’t been bred there.

 

Your puppy should have bright, clear eyes, no discharge, a healthy mouth and teeth with good skin condition and an alert, confident and lively temperament. The puppies should have been wormed, vaccinated and chipped before coming home to you (and proof of this should be shown) and a good breeder will have already made attempts to start socialising them in different contexts. Don’t be tempted to take the puppy because you feel sorry for it. This only lines the pockets of breeders who don’t care about the welfare standards of their litters and allows them to continue doing what they do.

 

If anything feels uneasy then walk away.

 

Training

Do you have the time to devote to training and socialising your puppy into adulthood? The first 2 years of a dog’s life can be challenging, often feeling like 2 steps forward, and 1 step back. It can be time consuming and frustrating but so crucial to their development. The time you invest in your puppy in the early months will make a huge difference to your pet’s health and happiness when they’re older.

 

Finances

Dogs are expensive! You can plan for all the expected bills but there are often many unexpected bills that crop up throughout their life that you will need to find the money for. Have you considered

-       Insurance – lifetime policies are the most comprehensive cover of insurance to ensure that any ailments are covered for your entire dog’s life. These can be pricey, particularly if you opt for a pedigree puppy.

-       Diet – Your puppy must be on a complete diet to ensure optimum growth and development. Some dogs have to go on specialist diets that may not be covered by insurance.

-       Training – It is important to consider puppy classes as soon as your puppy is fully vaccinated but also consider any further training support you may need down the line.

-       Veterinary care – Unexpected vet bills crop up and sometimes they aren’t covered on the insurance. You may wish to vaccinate your dog annually as well as flea and worm monthly



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