When important holidays come around, like Christmas, many people have the idea of adding a new member to the family: a puppy. However, this is a decision you need to think about carefully. You shouldn’t rush and you need to be absolutely sure you know what you’re doing.
When adopting a puppy, it’s taken as given that the dog will live with its new family for its whole life, which with luck will be between 12 and 15 years, so it’s a very important commitment. Therefore, you should bear the following advice in mind before going to a breeder:
Think carefully about your daily routine before adopting a puppy
With the arrival of a puppy your life with change. Many people adopt or buy a puppy and are later surprised that they bark a lot, can bite, or break things. If you adopt a puppy you need to know that some things in your daily routine will change.
Living with a dog has its advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, although your puppy may not yet be allowed out on the street, they demand a lot of time and attention at home because they’re so young. Therefore, before you bring a dog into your life you need to carefully consider whether you’re going to have 4 or 5 hours each day to attend to them.
But when they grow up they continue to require attention and can go for walks, something which is healthy for people too. So think carefully about your routine and your lifestyle.
Do you have enough time for them? How many hours will dog be left alone at home? If you can’t include a puppy in your day to day, maybe it’s best to leave the idea for some time in the future.
Where to choose a puppy
Once you know that you’re going to get a puppy, the next question is to consider how you’re going to get one. There are currently two choices: buying or adopting. Generally, unless you want a very specific breed of dog, the best advice is to adopt. There are thousands of animals looking for a home, and your home is looking for an animal.
Do your research about where and how your puppy is living. Search for animal refuges, find out what kind of animals they tend to have, what their facilities are like, and ask about the adoption process.
A responsible animal protection professional should be able to tell you where the animal has come from, what their overall state of health is, and what criteria you need to meet before adopting a puppy. For example, they will tell you what vaccinations they’ve had, when they were last de-wormed, and if you need to have them neutered in the future.
In the case that you want to buy a puppy, you should go straight to a breeder and not buy a puppy from a shop window. A professional breeder should allow you to meet the puppy’s mother and siblings, as well as visit their facilities. The breeder should have no problem with you asking for contact details of previous buyers to find out their experiences.
What type of puppy?
Sometimes it’s difficult to know how big a puppy will be once they become an adult. With breeders or pure breed dogs, this is much easier. Before adopting a puppy, find out what you can about the dog’s genes.
When it comes to mongrel dogs you should let your intuition guide you. If you have doubts, as many do with mixed-breed dogs, you should go to a vet or to a dog trainer.
Knowing about the puppy’s genes beforehand will allow you to find out their expected size and weight. But it’ll also help you know what kind of illnesses they are prone to or if they have behavioural problems. This is the only way to be certain when picking out a companion to come into your life.
Pure breeds tend to have a distinct personality and behaviour or often health problems. But these genetic traits can end up in mongrel dogs too. For example, terriers tend to have a strong character and bark a lot. A terrier cross is quite likely to inherit these traits.
Training for your puppy
Puppies are essentially babies when they come into your home. A dog is considered a puppy until they’re approximately seven months old. Then they’re an adolescent until they’re a year and a half or even two years old. When the puppy arrives in your home they know nothing, and they’ll depend on you to teach them everything.
To avoid problems both when they’re young and when they’re adults, learn about what training your need to give them and how. Remember that traditional methods, like scolding them or hitting their nose when they go to the toilet in the house are antiquated methods and could be problematic when your dog grows up.
Before adopting a puppy, be sure about the best way to train them. There are books that can help and in many places there are professional dog trainers who offer classes for puppies.
Prepare your house for adopting a puppy
Before the puppy gets as far as your house, you need to make it ready. Make sure that you decide as a family what the rules are and be consistent.
Protect all the things that they might bite or accidentally break. Buy toys for them to break instead, beds or somewhere to lie down, and different objects or food that they can chew or bite. Decide where they’re going to eat and sleep.
Try and think about everything that could go wrong and try to address these issues. But always remember that it’s a puppy and it’s expected that they’ll make mistakes. Be patient with your puppy. Learn to educate them with respect and without hurting them and you’ll both have many very happy years ahead of you.