Buying a Puppy

Buying a puppy can be one of the most rewarding things that you ever do, but taking the plunge is a big decision and needs careful consideration. Are you willing to devote your time to a dog? Do you have the money and space for your dog of choice? Will the breed you are looking to buy suit your lifestyle?

Choosing the right dog

When it comes to deciding on what type of dog would be right for you and your family, it is essential to first make sure you possess the right skills and temperament to look after a puppy because it is a big step to take, especially if this is your first dog.

It is worth drawing up a series of important factors that you feel should be taken into account when it comes to dog ownership. These should include the size of the dog that will suit your home and car, grooming requirements, the amount of exercise it will need, the cost of dog food to your weekly budget, whether to purchase a male or female, equipment, boarding kennels, and finally veterinary treatment costs.

If you decide on having a pedigree puppy, you will be fairly sure of knowing what you are getting; for example the puppy's size, how long the coat is, and the breed's characteristics. Other choices include a cross-breed or mongrel, which will both leave you with less certainty of what your dog will end up looking like.

Where to start looking?

Once you and your family have decided and agreed upon a certain breed, contact the breed club who can give useful information on what is required for your selected breed's general care and welfare, as well as information on its characteristics. The organisation can also put you in contact with local breeders.

A contact for breed clubs can be obtained from The Kennel Club - contact: 0870 606 6750. Another option is to visit Discover Dogs, which is held at Earls Court, London annually in November, and at Crufts Dogshow held every March at the NEC, Birmingham. These events will allow you to see all the breeds that are registered with the Kennel Club in the flesh, and will give you the opportunity to be able to speak to owners and breeders.

When searching for your puppy, whether a pedigree pup, cross-breed or mongrel, remember to be patient as finding the right puppy that has been reared correctly and has started socialisation can be very time consuming. Another tip is to try and see as many litters as possible, and if possible take a video recording of your visits as it may help you make your final decision.

What to look for?

When visiting you may find it not possible to see the sire but it is very important that you see the dam in company with her pups.

Try and examine her temperament while she's on her own with the pups and when one of the pups is picked up or moved away from her. If she shows signs of being stressed or signs of aggression then move to the next breeder on your list, as aggression from the dam will usually be passed on to the pups, something that you definitely want to avoid.

In order for the pups to become accustomed to sounds, smells, and sights of household appliances you should have the pups reared at home. This will also help the pups to get used to the hustle of people entering and leaving the house, and will make the transition period for the pup, from breeder to its new owner and home, much easier to deal with. It is possible to have the pup reared in a kennel outside, as long as it is dry, warm and clean, along with the kennel being in good shape. However this process will result in the pup not getting the necessary benefits of socialisation that a puppy reared in the home will have.

The pups should be provided with plenty of toys to play with, in order to help stimulate them as well as helping them to develop physically and mentally. Once they start playing with the toys you should take time out to watch how the pups interact with one another and the dam, as this will give you good indication of the puppies maturing process, showing how the puppies learn to behave as dogs.

The litter should be visited at three weeks old followed by another visit each or every two weeks if possible. During this period the breeder should start socialising them with as many different experiences as possible. The breeder should start by gently handling them at just a few days old, as this will cause mild stress to the pup, which in return will help it deal with more stressful situations later in life.

The socialisation process plays a big part in helping the pup get used to its new surroundings. The breeder should also ensure that the pups meet as many different people of different ages as possible. Pups can even be taken for a ride in the car as long as the journeys are kept short.