CHoosing a Puppy
Your new family member.
Finding the right pup for and your family should be something that is done with a great deal of thought and care.
Here are a few things to think about before acquiring your puppy:
It is important before you go and buy a puppy to think about the level of activity you are prepared to give your pup and the dog it will become.
How much space do you have in your home and garden?
If the dog is purebred then you want to think about what breed of dog you are interested in and find out everything you can about the breed. The Kennel Club can be helpful with telling you just what the breed should look like (the breed standard).
If you are going to buy a cross breed, it can be interesting to have a look at any information about the breeds involved in the cross (if you know what the crosses are).
Some breeds of dog need more exercise than others.
The sex of the dog may be another thing you will want to decide on.
Find out about possible health issues related to the breed you are interested in. For example is this type of dog prone to skin disease or eye problems?
Think about the type of coat the dog may have. Will it shed, will it require a lot of grooming, and will it require professional clipping and/or grooming?
Important – please be aware of puppy farming.
Breeders and the puppy’s parents
Visiting the breeder and puppy litter.
With information you have gained about the breed of your choice, you should now be prepared to go and visit the breeder’s home and to ask questions. A good breeder should also want to ask you questions so that they can decide if you are suitable for their pups.
Take a list of questions you have.
Breeders should be approachable, willing and able to give you the information you require about the puppies and their parenting. They should also be able to supply you with information on; worming, inoculations, and feeding.
Kennel Club documentation.
If they are Kennel Club registered, obtain a certificate or a written document that says they will forward it to you as soon as it is received from the Kennel Club.
Always visit the breeder’s home.
Do not have the puppy delivered to your home because you will never really know what the mother is like in temperament, nor will you know what type of environment the pup was brought up in. It is important to meet the mother of the pups and if possible, the father.
Visiting also means you have a chance to talk with the breeder, look at any paperwork, see how the mother is with you and the pups, how the pups are with each other and their environment.
Seeing the mother and father of the puppies.
It is not always possible to see the father because they don’t always belong to the owner of the mother. However, it is necessary to see how sociable they are or at least the mother is with people. Does the mother look like the breed? Are the parents clean, healthy, and happy? Do the parents have any obvious physical, temperament, or behaviour problems? Are the parents cowering away from you, are they aggressive or do they run away from you? Are the parents barking at you?
If you see any issues.
Puppies can grow up to be like their parents so if you see any of the above problems, it is possible that the puppies will grow up with the same problem.
The puppies should look clean, happy and healthy. Their environment should be clean and warm with warm bedding and fresh water.
They should be moving around normally and not sitting in an unusual manner (could indicate underlying hip problems).
Are the puppies kept in the house? If not are they warm, dry and experiencing the normal background noises in a home such as the radio, people talking and walking, sounds of the kitchen etc.
Find out how often they have human contact; it should be frequent throughout the day.
They should be eating a well balanced diet.
Have the puppies been experiencing an enriched environment (this is when the pups are given different toys to play with and areas to explore)?
Puppies need to explore (small areas) and have things to play with in order to simulate them mentally, which will help their brains to develop normally. However, they should not be given too many things or too large an area to explore because this could be overwhelming and frighten them.
But it is important for them to have a few objects and small amounts of new experiences, which will stimulate all 5 senses to help them to develop mentally and physically. New experiences must be given carefully to the new pup.
Remember if you don’t like what you see make your excuses and leave.
At 4 weeks the puppies should be weaned onto a solid diet.
Find out what food the puppy is eating.
Legally, puppies should not be sold at less than 6 weeks old.
Ideally a puppy should be 8 weeks of age when they go to a new home. This allows for the mother to have completed her disciplinary training of the pups such as teaching bite inhibition. This time is a very important learning time for the pups, it is a time when they begin to learn how to interact and communicate with other dogs properly. However, not every mother is good at discipline and in large litters, the mother can not always get around to them all, so if they are left with their siblings too long some may become bullies. Therefore puppies are usually recommended for sale at 8 to 10 weeks of age.
Once the decision has been made, the breeder should supply you with all the necessary paperwork and a diet sheet telling you exactly what, how much, and when the pup is fed. It is very important not to change the diet immediately as this can cause stomach upset.
Remember, it will be stressful for the pup to leave its family and to go into a new home with virtual strangers. Allow your pup time to adjust to its new environment and people. Try and keep everything calm and gentle in order that every new experience for your new pup is a positive one. It is important for the puppy’s happy adjustment that the puppy’s new life is not overwhelming.
Develop a good puppy socialisation programme
Look at different breeds and gain some knowledge of them before making a final choice on breed or breed type.
Once you have decided on a breed, gain more knowledge of that breed.
Plan for the puppy’s arrival.
Puppy proof any areas in which the puppy will be allowed e.g. make areas safe where there are electrical wires, make sure valuables are always out of reach, make your garden escape and danger proof etc.
A puppy will need:
Security, warmth and shelter
Food – nutritionally balanced diet
The best of physical care
A calming environment
A good balance of mental and physical exercise
Give the puppy his own bed and a space where he can always have a quiet time and space to himself.
Sleep is crucial for development. A pup must be allowed to sleep and rest.
Puppies need supervised and appropriate play with children and adults in order that they do not get overexcited and wound up.
Puppies should not be over-walked: Too much exercise can cause stress physically and mentally on a pup.
Create a kind regime for toilet training.
Do not let other dogs, children or adults harass or play roughly with the puppy. Handle puppy daily and start grooming with a soft brush in order that this will be accepted for life.
Puppies need the freedom to make choices
Create an enriched environment: This helps the puppy to gain knowledge and confidence through exploration and to make their own choices. However, care must be taken that the puppy is not given too much too soon. This should be done gradually, perhaps introducing something new each day, but care must be taken not to give inappropriate experiences.
Puppies need things to chew once teething starts: Make sure they always have appropriate items to chew, in order to keep them from chewing your things. Also consider giving occupying toys, as these are not only great for the food reward but can be mentally stimulating.
If pup shows fear of a situation, another dog, another animal, a person or anything, do not force pup to confront it. Let the pup make the decision whether to investigate or not, give praise when they do. If the puppy wants to move away, let them move away in order that they feel safe.
Pups should see different kinds of people e.g. short, tall, fat, thin, different colours, with glasses, without glasses, with and without beards or hats and be handled by different people but supervise this and make sure the pup is happy with the person and the situation – not all at once of course!
Pups should learn about different textures underfoot, different times of day, different weather, different sounds, smells, tastes, things to touch and things to see e.g. vets, towns, the countryside, people’s homes and gardens, the sea, children playing etc.
Puppies need good experiences but not too much too soon. Puppies are like sponges up to the age of 12 weeks, so care should be taken as to just what they do absorb. The puppy should not be flooded with too many new things or people at once. The pup should be made to feel comfortable with non-threatening situations.
Puppies need warmth, love, kindness, understanding, company and knowledgeable care. Puppies need good, positive early experiences in order to grow into well-balanced dogs.