So, you have decided to get a puppy! A really exciting time but also one where some careful thought is required. There are hundreds of different breeds out there but this is a situation where you must be ruled by your head, not your heart!
Many people are struck by the "look" of a dog or they know somebody or regularly see someone out for a walk, with a beautifully behaved dog.
CONSIDER CAREFULLY YOUR LIFESTYLE, HOME ENVIRONMENT AND EXPECTATIONS
Do you have enough room for a dog?
Be honest with yourself. If space is limited, then a large and/ or very lively breed is going to cause some problems.
Do you have the time to spend with the dog, training and exercising it?
If time is tight now, when your dog arrives, it’s only going to get more difficult. You may love the look of the weimerraner that you see out with its owner every morning but unless you have plenty of time to devote to its needs, this is not the dog for you!
Have you had a dog before?
If not, think carefully before you get your pup. You may admire the brains of the border collie but it is a misconception that these dogs are “easy to train”. In inexperienced hands, the dog is so bright it actually trains the owner, resulting in undesired behaviours! We would also steer you away from the “guardy” breeds, for example, the rottweiler, the doberman, the German shepherd dog – all fantastic breeds of dog but not for the inexperienced or the faint-hearted as these dogs are strong in both body and will!
Do you have a family, with young children?
Puppies and children aren’t always a great mixture! If you do have a young family, be prepared to train your kids how to behave around the dog and to provide the pup with a crate where it can get some “time out”!
Very small breeds of dog are not always the best choice here as children can be rough – labradors are, in the main, a very tolerant breed of young children but like all puppies will get VERY excited when children are running around, playing, yelling and getting very upset when the pup has just eaten their favourite toy!!
Does everyone in the family want a dog?
If your partner is very neat and tidy and is not keen on having a dog, getting a hairy breed that is going to shed coat everywhere and bring plenty of dirt into the house is probably going to lead to break-downs in the relationship! You may want to consider a dog that does not moult too much, eg poodles, labradoodles etc.
If everyone wants a dog, do they all have the same expectations of it?
Does one of you envisage long walks in the country and the other want a ‘home’ companion for cuddles and company? Often, these different expectations cannot be met by the dog, leading to confusion and disappointment.
Have you considered the financial implications?
If buying a pedigree dog, these do not come cheap! The initial outlay is quite substantial. Then there is the ongoing costs of feeding a good quality diet, vaccinations, insurance for public liability and vets fees (which should be considered a “must have” these days), equipment (ie lead, collar, grooming kit, bed, crate, toys, etc).
And you must budget for training your dog – classes (and remember, one puppy course is not enough to responsibly train your dog) and maybe one-to-one help if you encounter any specific problems.
If you have decided to go to a rescue centre and give an unwanted dog a home then the same applies with the exception of the initial outlay of buying a pedigree puppy. However, most rescue centres do charge for you to take a dog so you still need to check out how much this will be.
DON’T BE TEMPTED TO GET TWO PUPS TOGETHER!
Firstly, whilst one pup can be quite stressful, two is double-trouble!
Secondly, the pups will bond together, often leaving you out of the picture. Training is much harder and you will miss out on the wonderful relationship that can exist between man and his dog.
Thirdly, litter brothers and sisters can, in a lot of cases, end up disliking each other intensely which leads to fighting and heartache for all. Think about it – nature does not intend brothers and sisters to remain together – there is too much equality in size and age. With dogs, equality usually leads to lack of clarity regarding pack position which in turn leads to fighting.
So, the key is... DO YOUR RESEARCH! Before you get your puppy, speak to breeders, people who have the breed of dog you are interested in, buy a dog magazine – often these have helplines about the various breeds OR, surprise surprise, speak to dog trainers who work day-in, day-out with many, many different breeds and who can give you some professional guidance.
Kerry & Rob
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