The Big Decision: So you want a dog!
Do the entire family buy into this idea? Experience has shown that if one or more are against a pet, then bringing an animal into that environment can cause considerable family friction and stress.
Have you weighed up the financial and time implications, these can be considerable, owning a dog is a serious commitment and should never be taken lightly.
You should not purchase a puppy if you are going to be working for a number of days per week and the puppy will be left alone for longer than an hour or so.
People buy puppies for many reasons, for some it can be a difficult and traumatic time. It can also be a very difficult and anxious time for the puppy.
Suddenly taken away from the security of the breeder the mother and the pups siblings, anxiety,and fear can set in deeply. They need your attention comfort and reassurance at this critical time.
Dogs are pack animals they take solace and comfort in the family/pack. If someone buys a puppy then leaves it for hours each day many behavioural problems can arise not least separation anxiety.
Think long and hard on whether your life style and employment both now and in the foreseeable future will allow you to give the time, patience and security this little scrap of a puppy needs.
If you have decided on a Puppy then there are some fundamental things you must do and some places you should never buy from, and rules that you must adhere to whatever the breeder or seller tells you. This is your guide to finding, choosing, and preparing for your puppy to come home with you.
Puppies Where To Buy
Rule 1. Never ever buy a Puppy from anywhere or anyone without being able to see at least one or preferably both the parents.
There are places called Puppy Farms that are absolutely deplorable.
Just look at this LINK for more information and to report a potential puppy farmed dog.
Puppies from these farms normally have major health and behavioural problems throughout their lives. This is caused mainly through poor breeding, bad sanitation, cheap food, and bad handling.
They are generally taken from their mother and siblings far too early causing socialisation problems with people and other dogs.
Do not let the word Farm give you the wrong impression. It may not be a farm but kennels that are clean, airy, and bright.
On the face of it look like a professional establishment. If you cannot meet at least one parent or their are lots of different breeds of pups around, then do not even consider buying a puppy, you will almost certainly live to regret that rash decision.
Quite often these people will buy the whole litter at say £45 per dog from puppy farms in Ireland or Wales, then sell then on to you at £450.00 complete with fancy bogus pedigree certification.
Rule 2. Never buy a puppy from a pet shop or any other similar outlet; other animals are OK but not Dogs.
You could be supporting the horrific trade in puppy-farmed dogs. I have even seen pups being sold at car boot sales. Many of the dogs sold in Pet Shops are from puppy farmers.
Rule 3. Never buy on impulse or because you feel sorry for a frightened or timid puppy.
Rule 4. Never take the word of a breeder or any seller who says you cannot meet any of the parents, or they skirt your questions re the parents.
The excuses commonly used are the mothers ill or not available or at friends or they are selling a pup for someone else. Another scam is to meet you somewhere away from the so called breeders home. Or they will bring the pup to you. You must see the house, the kennels, and where the puppies are being kept. It is better if they are reared indoors.
Rule 5. Do not automatically believe that your dog is a pedigree.
Just because they have supplied a certificate, especially if parents cannot be seen, some of these certificates are not worth the cheap paper they are printed on. I have a puppy at my classes at the time of writing this, with a full pedigree certificate, sold as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier yet it is clearly and without any shadow of a doubt a Mastiff.
Rule 6. Unless you are an experienced handler/dog owner then do not pick the puppy that bounds up to you and pushes all the others out the way in it's haste to get at you.
This is normally the most dominant of the litter. Do not also go to the other end of the scale and pick the runt or the frightened one, because you feel sorry for it, you are taking on a whole heap of problems if you do.
The majority of all dog attacks are based on fear not aggression. You are far better off picking a pup from the middle rankings.
The breeder if worth their salt, should be able to advise you on this. Alternatively you can employ a behaviourist or specialist who can assess the pups using specialised puppy assessment tests.
Rule 7. If you looking for puppies do not automatically think that if you go through the Kennel Club route that those dogs and breeders have all been personally checked or vetted by that organisation.
This is not the case though an excellent and well meaning establishment, they really do not have the facilities nor the ability or time to check the credentials or bona fide of all the breeders on their books.
Rule 8. Never ever buy two puppies at the same time, whether siblings or from different litters. This is a recipe for disaster see my article Siblings The Worst Of Both Worlds.
You may be better to go to the breed clubs of the type of dog you are looking for, as they generally know each individual professional breeder, and respect each other ethics and work. Contact the secretaries and they should be able to point you in the direction of available quality pups.
CHOOSING THE PUPPY AND TAKING IT HOME
You have now set out what you want and where to buy it from. I would recommend you visit the puppies at the very least twice, at 4/5 weeks and again when you pick up the pup.
The best age to take the puppy home is 7 weeks see my Psychological Changes in a Puppies Growth. NEVER ever accept a puppy less than 7 weeks of age, it is vitally important they are with their mother and siblings up to this age.
Puppies over twelve weeks should be avoided if possible.
Having said that, this would depend on where they are kept, ie, if they are kept in a house, and if it is a loving home with plenty of contact with the breeders family, then it can be considered. Not in a kennel outside without human contact.
Check the appearance of the mother and puppies. Do they appear healthy; eyes clear and bright, free of any discharge? Are their coats shiny?
If possible get confirmation of the eye and hip scores of both the mother and the fathe. If the breeder allows you, always stroke and fuss the parents.
Check their temperament, look for signs of aggression, fearfulness, nervousness, or ‘neurotic’ symptoms such as chewing feet, tail, or skin damage, are the dogs pacing etc.
This is especially important in the mother, as the puppies are in close contact with her. It has been shown that, it is the mother that mainly shapes the behavioural future of the offspring.
Genetics may load the gun but environment fires it.
Make sure you handle the puppies if they become distressed or shy away, this could mean that they have not been properly socialised.
If the puppies have been socialised correctly, then they will adapt and accept situations that are potentially stressful. You should then end up with a happy well-balanced dog in maturity.
Before bringing your new dog home, make sure your garden is ‘Safe & Secure’. Purchase a collar, lead, bowls, and dog tag with name address and telephone (law max £5000 fine) bed, toys and treats etc. Check with the breeder what she is feeding the pups, a good breeder will supply you with some food and give you a feeding chart.
It is also very helpful to have left an unwashed worn tee shirt on your first visit to the breeders.
The puppies will recognise your smell. This will also give the pup more confidence when you finally pick it up, as the pup will immediately detect your smell. It will also have the litter and mothers smell which will provide some comfort and security in the first weeks at home.
Check with other dog owners as to the best Vet in your area. If you live near me check on the local links section.
I have recommended what I believe to be the best Vets around here in London, Surrey, Middx etc. When you pick up the pup take a cardboard box with you and line it with newspaper.
Take spare newspaper with you as the pup may be sick and will almost certainly urinate and defecate on the journey, especially if it is any distance.
When you get home place the bed or crate near somewhere warm. If you are using a crate, and I heartily endorse them.
Cover the crate with a blanket or sheet to make it more den like introduce the puppy to the crate gradually and positively, see my article on Toileting With a Crate.
If you have a loud ticking clock put this near the bed or crate, you can also put in a hot water bottle; it mimics the mothers and siblings heat.
Make sure it is well covered or you may get a very wet bed/crate, and the tick of the clock the heartbeats, leave a radio on in another room, make sure it is tuned into a talk not a music station. 97.3 LBC is my favourite and the one I choose every time. Not sure about what the pup thinks though?
If the puppy continues to get very distressed after a couple of days you can take it into your bedroom.
Though I would only normally advise this when using a crate/indoor kennel, as you can gradually move this back to the original location gradually over a period of time. Once the puppy has settled in. (See Puppy Crying at Night)
Your new puppy will needs lots of sleep, just like a human baby so too much interference in this pattern will be detrimental, rough handling by children or adults could affect the behaviour and attitude of your new puppy, and could have a long lasting effect as the dog matures. However not enough contact and gentle handling will also have a negative effect on your dog, finding the right balance is of vital importance.
A puppy can be an absolute joy or an unmitigated nightmare, which one you get, can be affected by the effort you initially put into your research, decisions, training and ongoing socialisation.
It is vitally important to book your puppy into a good socialisation class, make sure that they do not have more than 8/10 dogs in any one class and that the pups at the start of the course are not over 18 weeks old, and the trainers do not allow the puppies to just jump on one another at the start of the class, integration of the puppies in the class should be careful and slow to avoid problems and long term bad manners in later life.
Puppies need lots of time, care and patience. Follow the above guidelines and your efforts will be positively rewarded with what I personally believe is the best companion in the world.
|Is your dog pulling on the Lead, Unruly, Bad Recall, Aggressive on Lead, Jumping Up?
See my article and Video Clips on how to stop this. The Jingler