Before you buy a puppy
So you've decided to purchase a dog. Owning a dog can be the beginning of years of happiness as the special bond between humans and canines exceeds even the greatest of expectations. However, to ensure the best relationship with your dog, you must be prepared for some important responsibilities. Keep the following questions in mind as we go along:
- Have I found the right breed to fit into my lifestyle and home?
- Will you have enough time to spend training, grooming and exercising a dog?
- Am I willing to spend the resources to ensure the best future for a dog?
Is there a breed you have had your eye on, or are you confused about how to select a dog? In either case, you should do some homework to make sure that you select the right dog for you and your family. The bonus of selecting a purebred dog is their predictability in size, coat, care requirements and temperament. Knowing what your cute puppy will look like and the kind of care he will need as an adult is a key in selecting the breed for you.
Too frequently, common sense goes out the window when it comes to buying a puppy. This seems to be even truer when the purchase is by a family with children. Buying a dog is like buying anything else; the more you know before you buy, the better off you will be. This advice applies to all aspects of buying your dog, from selecting the breed to deciding where to obtain the puppy. We strongly recommend that you spend enough time investigating before buying. Remember, dogs are for life.
While investigating, always be honest with yourself. The Bearded Collie you fell in love with because of his lush coat is indeed beautiful, but are you going to be able to brush this coat every day as it requires? Maybe a short coated dog better suits your busy lifestyle. Think about the size of your house or your apartment. Will that Golden Retriever be happy in your studio apartment? The Golden Retriever is a larger sporting dog who requires a lot of exercise. Do you have a fenced yard so he can go out safely? If not, can you afford to install a fence? These are crucial questions regarding the safety of your dog and being a responsible neighbor. Always remember, it is okay to change your mind about which breed you want or if you want the responsibility of owning a dog at all. Owning a dog is a big responsibility! Talk to breeders. Ask them lots of questions; we all know there are no stupid questions. A responsible breeder will eagerly answer your questions and share his or her experience and knowledge with you. Where can you find breeders and see dogs? At dog shows (conformation events). Also contact AKC clubs in your area for their recommendations.
Buy your puppy from a responsible and well-respected breeder. This cannot be stressed enough. Responsible breeders are concerned with the betterment of the breed. For example, they work on breeding healthier dogs with the appropriate temperament for their breed. Your breeder referral contact will direct you to a breeder who is concerned with the future of the puppy. Once you select a breeder, screen the breeder. Ask to see at least one of the parents (the dam or the sire) of your puppy. See how the dogs in your breeder's home interact with your breeder. Are they friendly and outgoing or do they shy away? The responsible breeder will be screening you, too, looking for the best home for each puppy.
This is not the time to hunt for a bargain. Your new puppy will be a member of your family for his lifetime, so you'll want to make a wise investment.
The purchase price of your puppy is not the only cost you have to consider. Be aware that the puppy you bring home will need proper care: food, health care, (a dog needs annual shots). Your puppy will also need little things like a collar with identification, a bowl, and a leash. Evaluate your budget; ask yourself if you really can afford a dog. Dog Ownership = Responsibility. Being a responsible owner means considering your dog's lifelong health care needs, whether for preventive care or for unexpected accidents, injuries and illnesses that could happen at any time, however well you look after your dog. It is sensible to consider planning for these.
All dogs must be cared for daily. This means proper diet, exercise, grooming and veterinary attention. There are many excellent guides on all facets of dog care. "The Puppy Listener: Understanding and Caring for Your New Puppy" by Jan Fennell and "On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas contain information on proper dog care. We recommend you have these or some other authoritative reference source available. Do not attempt to be your own veterinarian! All dogs should be regularly examined by a veterinarian and inoculated against the major infectious canine diseases. Pet health insurance offers options for coverage toward these essential items, as well as toward preventative costs.
All dog owners must be aware of their responsibilities to their neighbors, both those who live in the area immediately around their residence and their neighbors in the broader sense of the community as a whole. Dogs, for all the pleasure they are, can be a nuisance to your neighbors if not trained. Remember, excessive barking can be annoying. And, always keep your dog on a leash or inside a fenced yard when exercising. Remember to pick up after your dog. Forestall problems for yourself and your dog and all dog lovers by being a good neighbor.
One way to make your dog a good neighbor is through obedience training. A poorly behaved dog is a problem for everyone. Nothing is more frustrating than attempting to corral a dog that will not "come" when you call. A well trained dog is not only a pleasure to own, he is a goodwill ambassador for the entire canine community. A well-behaved dog is the result of the dog's owner being willing to work with the dog regularly in a systematic manner. Obedience classes are available in most communities. Time spent training your dog is time well spent.