So you've decided your family is ready for a puppy. What now?
Research The Best Fit For Your Family
How will you decide on type of dog, or breed, that will best fit into your family?
Are you an active family that spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking, bushwalking etc? Will your dog be joining you? Bearing in mind that dogs aren't allowed in National Parks, will having a dog restrict your activities?
Do you have very young children? Honestly assess whether you have the time to train a puppy at this time. Puppies are just like children - they need to learn what is acceptable behaviour, they don't arrive as pre-programmed perfect doggy citizens.
Are you away from home for long periods of time each day? Would you enrol your puppy in doggy day care or get a dog walker? When you get home after a long tiring day working, will you have the energy to spend time with your dog, take them for a walk, do some training etc? Your dog has been waiting all day to see you - will you return the compliment?
Your kids are a bit older and have pestered you to get a dog. You've agreed as long as they look after it and clean up after it. No. Just no. It's fine to ask your kids to take some responsibility, but it isn't their job to train it, walk it, feed it and clean up after it. Because if it is, what will you do in a few months when they have exams, or join a sports team, or make the swim squad?
As someone who has been (and still is) involved in rescue, kids losing interest is one of the reasons dogs are surrendered, and it makes me pretty annoyed to be honest. If you aren't prepared to take responsibility, what on earth makes you think your kids should?
This interactive quiz should make you think about what you can offer a dog, how it will fit into your life, and might throw up some breed options you wouldn't have thought of.
How To Choose A Puppy
Choose a reputable breeder who is responsible and carries out genetic testing appropriate to the breed.
Choose a breeder who is registered with the relevant body ie ANKC. The breed club for your State will have a list of approved breeders - speak to them, discuss the breed with them to be sure that it's a good fit for your family. Be prepared to wait - good quality breeders have a waiting list for good reason.
Ask to see the mother - you want to see that she is in good health, and to see her temperament and disposition. Never buy a puppy from someone who doesn't allow you to visit their premises – any responsible breeder will be happy to allow you to see their set-up. They will welcome any questions which you ask, and will want to be sure that their puppy is going to the right home.
If they do not ask you questions about your home, lifestyle etc, it is best to look elsewhere. A responsible breeder willl will be prepared to provide ongoing support if necessary, and should help if you are unable to keep your dog at any point in the future.
Choose a healthy, bright and inquisitive puppy, not the timid or unwell puppy hiding in the corner. Look for a shiny coat, bright eyes, clean ears and plenty of energy.
Don't buy a puppy from a pet shop where you have no information about the parentage or breeder. Never buy a puppy from Gumtree - the majority of puppies advertised on Gumtree are from back yard breeders, whose prime motivation is profit. They are unlikely to carry out any genetic testing, and health care will be minimal to ensure maximum profit on each litter. If you have any issues, they will not help you. Don't forget, a reputable breeder is there for the life of your puppy. Also, in the current covid climate, Gumtree is rife with scammers.
What About A Rescue Dog?
There are plenty of dogs looking for loving homes, for a variety of reasons. If your heart is set on a particular breed, you might look for a breed specific rescue. Bear in mind that pedigree puppies really don't go through rescue groups - responsible breeders take back their puppies in the event of difficulties.
If a pedigree isn't important to you, you may be lucky enough to find a rescue puppy, but in reality most dogs with rescues or in council facilities are older. Rescue dogs are very rewarding - but you don't always know their history, and there may be some challenges along the way (not that having a puppy isn't challenging either).
We are lucky enough to have a beagle who we chose from a registered breeder, and a rescue who came to us after a long spell in the pound. Baldrick Beagle and Marvinnotabeagle make our family complete, and are valued employees here at Bonza Dog Treats :)
If this has helped you to decide whether you're ready for a puppy, let us know in the comments.