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Getting a puppy involves lots of tough decisions. You know you want a puppy, but you have no idea what breed, where to find one, or how to prepare your home and family for the new arrival? Read on for The Upward Dog’s advice.
Rehoming Centre or Breeder?
We are frequently told how important it is to rescue dogs that have ended up in rehoming centres across the country, but when it comes to a puppy, they are often ‘snapped up’ very quickly. Some rescue centres even have waiting lists, so if this is the route that you want to take, get in touch now to register your interest.
There are plenty of breeders out there, who advertise in the free ads of local newspapers, and I’m sure many of them produce fabulous puppies, but we would always recommend that you try to opt for getting a puppy from someone who is part of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme.
Nothing guarantees the perfect puppy, but the scheme does require breeders to ensure the puppy has had the appropriate health screening for its breed. While a ‘backyard breeder’s’ puppies may be significantly cheaper than a pedigree, if you take into account possible veterinary bills for a chronic medical condition that a registered breeder would have checked for, that puppy becomes a drain on your finances and your emotions.
- Ask to see the puppy with at least his/her mother
- Ask to see health screening results for the puppy’s mother and father
- Make sure you are happy with the puppy you choose or the puppy that is left, if you are the last to choose – don’t invest, if s/he doesn’t feel ‘right’
If you are going down the route of buying a pedigree puppy, you must consider what breed of dog will best fit into your family. You need to consider all of the following to narrow down which puppy is going to be right for you:
- What do you want to do with the dog?
If you want to try running with your dog, you will want an energetic breed, a Vizsla perhaps. If you want to enter the world of competitive obedience, the ubiquitous and extremely intelligent Border Collie might be more appropriate.
- How much time can you spend with the dog?
If you are at home all day, and able to get outside for lots of walks, a high energy dog will be perfect.
- Do you have children or visiting grandchildren?
Some dogs are more tolerant of youngsters than others, so – dependent on the age of the children – this will be something to take into consideration.
- How much outdoor space do you have?
A larger dog will need more space outside (and, to some extent, inside) the house: do you have a big enough back garden to accommodate him, or are there open spaces very close by?
Before getting a puppy there are quite a few things that you should put in place.
- Get your house in order.
Puppies are likely to steal, knock over and chew anything that looks interesting, so put sentimental items away somewhere safe, and make sure that no dangerous items (e.g. sharp objects; medications; cleaning products, etc.) are on open access.
- Secure your garden.
If your puppy is going to be allowed into your garden off-lead, ensure that it is secured. Puppies can turn into Houdini, when they find the smallest of gaps in a fence!
- Buy a comfy bed and crate, and place them somewhere cosy and out of any draughts.
A crate is a brilliant thing for a puppy to spend time in alone, when you can’t watch for housetraining mishaps, chewing, and so on. A crate keeps a pup out of harm’s way!
- Find a collar and/or harness, and attach an ID tag.
Before you leave the breeder’s house or rehoming centre, put the dog’s collar or harness on. Not only is ID compulsory by law, it and your puppy’s microchip are the only things that will get him returned to you should he jump out of the car, when you arrive at his new home.
- Keep the puppy on the same food for a few days.
Find out in advance what the breeder feeds the puppy on, and decide whether you want to stick to the same food. Either way, make sure you have enough supply to feed what he’s used to for the first few days in his new home.
- A puppy needs toys, but not a toy-box!
Let’s face it, we all love to buy toys for our dogs, but don’t overwhelm a puppy. Make sure that toys are appropriate for the puppy’s size and are not so small they’re a choking hazard, or so big that he can’t play with them. Offer him a couple of toys at first, and introduce new ones as he gets older, or starts to lose interest in the others.
- Book a health check with your vet.
Not only is a health check a good chance for the vet to ensure that all is well with your puppy, it’s also great socialisation exercise. Being handled and checked over is something you will need to do regularly to your dog, so it’s important the puppy is exposed to gentle but thorough handling from a young age. It is also a chance to get any vaccinations that are necessary: ask your breeder or the rehoming centre whether any injections are given before the puppy leaves.
Getting a Puppy Help
Still confused? We can help, with our options for helping you research which puppy is right for you – click here for more information and let us help you make one of the biggest decisions you’ll make this decade!