florida dog trainer header image 01

Points to Consider before Buying a Pup

POINTS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A PUP

WHY DO YOU WANT A DOG?

Think carefully why you want a dog? Getting one because the kids want one is not a good enough reason. You all have to be committed to owning one and the responsibilities that go with making a dog part of the family. Consider whether you want your dog for specific reasons such as herding or as a hunting dog. There are many other points to consider when deciding on a dog for a specific purpose.

HOW MUCH TIME CAN YOU GIVE TO BEING A PARTNER WITH YOUR DOG?

Every dog and every breed is different requiring varying time requirements with regard to exercise, grooming and training. Some breeds require a lot of time and commitment. Not spending enough time training and exercising your dog can have disastrous effects, for the dog, for yourself and your possessions.

HOW BIG IS YOUR YARD AND IS THERE THE AVAILABILITY OF EXERCIZE AREAS?

This may determine the size of dog you can effectively own and manage. Fences need to be strong and big enough for your dog not to escape. Plus a good area where he can go to the bathroom.

WILL HE LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE OR MOSTLY IN THE YARD?

If he lives in the house consider the space within your house and the size and energy level of the breed you favor.

DO YOU HAVE OR ARE CONSIDERING HAVING CHILDREN?

Some breeds are not ideal with children. Children are not always fair to dogs and therefore I would recommend that an adult always supervise children when they are with dogs.

HAVE YOU OTHER PETS ALREADY?

Some dogs easily fir into multi-pet household and some do not. Check with the breeder on this aspect.

WHAT IS THE CLIMATE WHERE YOU LIVE?

Some dogs that have been bred for cold climates can have problems with hot climates. Living in an air conditioned home or kennel can help but be aware of the problems with both thin and heavy coated dogs.

HAVE YOU EVALUATED THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH DOG OWNERSHIP?

Some dogs are high maintenance. The cost of buying a dog is often minimal in comparison to ownership costs – Food, equipment, veterinary expenditure, grooming, kenneling, training etc.

WHAT TEMPERAMENT WILL BEST SUIT YOUR FAMILY?

Breeds exhibit different temperament traits that can be inherent within the breed. Although breed profiles can help few dogs mirror exactly the profile that is basically a generalization of the breed. They are however a good guideline. Even when selecting a pup from breed you have chosen ask the breeder to help you select the right temperament for your family and situation.

HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE HAVE YOU HAD AS A DOG OWNER?

Some breeds are not good for first time owners as they require more understanding, management and training. It is always advisable to do some research prior to buying any breed and there are many good books on the market relating to breeds and training of dogs.

To research a breed, read books, talk to owners you meet and go to a dog show or competition where you can meet owners.

SELECTING A SPECIFIC PUPPY

Although a number of my clients have had success buying a puppy from a pet shop I do not recommend this. When buying from a pet shop we do not have the opportunity to see either the parents or the environment in which the pups were raised. This to me is very important. Although there are reputable large-scale breeders who supply pet shops we cannot reliably determine which these are. In addition the selection of a puppy is often very limited in a pet shop. Only one pup of the breed you are interested in may be available. Do not be tempted by a cute pup or buy in a whim or demands from your children.

Before visiting any breeder do your homework. Ensure that you do want a dog, puppies grow into dogs, and that you have the time, finance and will to take on a dog within your family and the responsibilities this entails.

A good and responsible breeder will want the right home for their puppy; therefore let them know if your knowledge of dogs and their breed specifically is limited. They will ask you questions and this is only right if they are responsible and wish to get good homes for their dogs. Do not be disturbed by this but view it as part of responsible dog ownership.

The best time to go see and pick a pup is around the six to seven week old stage. I like to take a pup at about eighth weeks old, however some breeders will want to keep them longer. Provided they are well socialized and the breeder works with the pups in this period there are few problems. Do not take a pup before it is at least seven and a half weeks old.

 When visiting the kennels to select a pup.

1.      Ask to see the parents. It may be difficult to see the father as he could be stud dog that does not live with the breeder.  Observe their physique, temperament, trainability, and general attitude. Remember the mother will not look at her best as she has just had pups.

2.      If it is a working dog you require ask to see the parents work where possible and to see any qualifications they may have. To see them work you may have to go in advance of the pups being born.

3.      Look at general cleanliness and hygiene.

4.      Ask to see the pedigrees (where relevant) and health documents on the parents e.g. hip, eye, elbows and shoulders. Some breeds have other genetic defects common to them; research before the visit and ask about them if necessary.

5.      If you want to show the dog later or work it, this may limit your selection. Again ask the breeder’s advice.

6.      Ask to walk around the kennels, if they have one, and observe the conditions the dogs are kept in. Also look at the general health condition of dogs and surroundings. Are they alert and friendly? Dogs in kennel often bark but you can quickly get a good impression from walking around.

7.      How do the dogs react to their owners/handlers?

8.      The puppies should be nicely rounded without being fat. They should not be tucked in around the middle or too thin.

9.      Look at their eyes; they should be clear and clean, not running.

10.  Ears should be clean and not have a strong odor.

11.  The pups’ coat should look shiny and clean.

12.  Check pups for fleas and lice.

13.  Look at the belly of the pup to ensure it does not have an umbilical hernia. Although not drastic this can need surgery to correct.

14.  Check the conditions in which the pups are kept and notice any stools from the pups. They should be nicely shaped and firm although not hard.

15.  Does the puppy pen have toys and other activity stimulating objects? Is it in an area where there is human traffic?

16.  If you want a female, ask for them to be placed in a separate area where you can concentrate on them. Do the same if you want a male. There are advantages and disadvantages to either sex and can be dependent upon the breed, so again research the breed before you visit.

17.  Spend time with the pups, do not rush and do not buy on a whim. You will love and spend more time with a dog you really want. If you have done your research and selected a responsible breeder who has bred from good parents this now becomes a very personal choice.

18.  Do not let your heart rule your head, if you use your head your heart will always follow.

19.  A deposit is normal. Obtain a receipt and note any characteristics of the puppy you have selected.

20.  Ask for a feeding and management advice sheet from the breeder.

21.  Thank the breeder for their time and assistance and make an appointment to pick the pup up.

Selecting a puppy is a lifetime commitment for the pup, and dog ownership is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Dogs give so much and ask so little in return. For me a dog makes my house a home and every day, one filled with treasures, love and laughter. I wish you the same with your dog.