If you are considering getting a puppy, you would do well to consider a number of important issues. Yes, getting a puppy is exciting, joyful and it will turn your life upside down. The socialisation period is such a special time. Your pup develops a bond with you and your family and it’s the start of an amazing friendship. To make sure that you can enjoy life with your beloved dog for the duration of his or her entire lifespan, it’s important to answer these questions first.
1) Do I want a puppy or an older dog?
Naturally, puppies are a lot of fun, irresistible even, but they are a lot of work, too! It’s not far fetched to compare caring for a puppy with caring for a baby, it really does take up that much of your attention. Young dogs have a ton of energy and your puppy may, despite your best training efforts, turn into a very trying adolescent. They won’t be that tiny and cute forever ... In just a few months, your puppy turns from a sweet little thing to a gangly teenager into a grown-up, who will, with any luck, be with you for 15 years. Perhaps consider whether you could love a more settled, older dog just as much? The shelters are brimming with dogs deserving of a second chance. Adopting a dog is a rewarding experience. What could be lovelier than offering a dog a new life and giving them a warm home?
2) Do I want a pure-bred dog or a mixed breed?
If you are looking for a pure-bred dog, you can find registered breeder through your local kennel club. The advantage of getting a pure-bred dog is that you can consider in advance which traits would make a dog suitable for your situation. You can, for example, pick a small or a large breed, a very active one or a family-friendly and calm breed. Don’t forget, however, that every dog is an individual and that the breed does not determine everything about the dog. How the dog develops depends on genetics, experiences, socialisation, training, exercise and the love and attention he or she gets from you. Do you not have any specific preferences? Check local shelters and rescue organisations, where all kinds of puppies and dogs will be available. When choosing a rescue organisation, make sure that it is legitimate. They should have a public annual report, long term projects, good screening and matching of both dogs and prospective owners and give their dogs a clean bill of health with vaccinations, microchipping and worming treatment before adoption.
3) Is my puppy from a healthy and “fair” litter?
Whether you buy your pup from a breeder or a shelter, it’s important to know that your puppy grew up under good and healthy circumstances. Don’t buy a pup from the “wrong” breeder just because you feel sorry for it. This is exactly what makes the puppy mill business profitable and keeps it going. That’s why you need to make sure that your puppy is from a healthy and fair litter. It’s essential that your pup is no younger than 7 weeks (ideally even 9 to 10 weeks) when it leaves the mother. Medical information must be available. When you visit the litter, the mother must be present. Pups and mother must be clean and healthy, and certainly not fearful or aggressive. Also important: The breeder must be curious about you and your lifestyle. A good breeder will ask you lots of questions about the pup’s future home. Use this checklist!
4) Can I afford a dog?
A dog from a breeder is usually more expensive than a dog from a shelter or resue organisation. But don’t just take the initial cost of getting a dog into account - even if you choose a pedigree puppy, it’s really only a fraction of how much a dog will cost you throughout his or her lifetime. Toys, dog beds, leads, other accessories, a crate, food, chew bones, possibly changes to your home, garden or car to make them dog-safe, yearly and occasional health care costs, grooming, possibly insurance, training, dog walkers or dog sitters, etc. Take all of this (plus a bit of a margin for emergencies ...) into account when making a weekly or monthly budget for your dog. Can you provide all of the above for the dog’s entire life span?
5) Do I have enough time for a dog?
The energy level differs from dog to dog, but in the end, every dog will need to go for a daily walk. If your dog is kept inside, it's important that you have plenty of opportunity to take them outside several times a day to go to the toilet, sniff, play and run (including on very hot or cold days!). It is equally important that your dog is not alone all day. Dogs are social animals who become lonely, stressed and depressed when left alone for too long. Are you or a member of your family there for the dog? Especially while the dog is still a puppy, they will need constant attention. It’s recommended to take off from work for at least 4 weeks when getting a puppy, and even after that, you may not be able to leave them alone for an entire work day.
6) Am I crazy about dogs?
Of course the answer must be a huge, resounding YES! If you are completely nuts about dogs, you won’t mind muddy paw prints, tons of dog hair or your new shoes accidentally becoming a tasty chew bone ... A real dog lover enjoys walks with their dog, even when you are tired after work. Yes, a dog requires a lot of attention, time, energy and will sometimes cause frustration. But if you love dogs, you know that you get a beautiful and deep bond with your furry family member in return.
We would love to hear your puppy stories! Check our Wall of Paws for more puppy inspiration. Lots of Pawshakers have shared their beautiful pups with us :-)