Because the decision to bring a puppy into your home is a decision that will last for the life of the dog, it’s important to determine whether the timing is right. Is your home life suited to dog ownership? Also, how will you find the best place to adopt or buy your puppy? Lets take each decision step by step.
Just because a child asks for a puppy for Christmas or on his birthday, it doesn’t necessarily mean the timing is right or that there is a capable individual who will take responsibility for the puppy’s welfare. Will the dog be alone for 8 or more hours a day? In this case it will difficult to housebreak, socialize and exercise this puppy. Is your home dog friendly? Does your landlord, apartment building, or condo complex allow dogs? Are you as much in favor of a puppy as the one who initiated the search, and do you understand the commitment, related expenses and training requirements involved? Is your child is the only one who wants a dog and the assumption is being made that he or she will do everything that is required? The answers to these questions are extremely revealing and important. It is very important that everyone involved in making the puppy purchase knows that the puppy needs to be cared for its entire life. Veterinarian bills will have to be paid for and accommodations have to be suitable.
Also important to consider, just because a child walks over to a particular puppy and chooses it, doesn’t mean that particular dog will be the right fit for your family for the long-term. Shedding, exercise, size and temperament vary tremendously and are important considerations when choosing a breed. If the decision to buy a dog is impulsively made by a child he or she probably has no idea what the cute puppy he sees today will be like to live with as an adult. For example a Yorkshire Terrier, playful Maltese, tiny toy poodle, or fluffy Pomeranian although very appealing to a young child because they are so small, are not well suited to living in homes with young children. These tiny breeds are fragile and can’t tolerate excessive handling, poking, or chasing and can be easily injured. Although a young child might do well with guinea pigs for example, doesn’t mean he or she is mature enough to handle a tiny puppy. Puppies do not automatically land on their feet when they fall out of a child’s arms or off a bed or sofa. This situation can lead to a severe injury or even an aggressive puppy who nips or snaps to avoid rough handling.
On the other hand a frisky Golden Retriever, Boxer, English Mastiff, Bernese, or sturdy Labrador Retriever can often be very good companions for young children. These breeds enjoy games and outside play in a fenced yard. It should be noted that although these and other breeds can make good companions for children they grow quickly, can be very rambunctious, and chew for several months making them good pets only if they are raised with responsible training. There are also many medium-sized breeds that are well suited for family life such as Boston terriers, Pugs, Cavaliers, Westies, and Cockapoos to name a few. If allergies are an issue, some of the breeds to consider are Poodles, Shih Tzus, Bichons or Soft Coated Wheaten terriers.
After considering whether or not your current home life is suitable for a new puppy the decision of where to find your new puppy can be overwhelming. Rescue organizations are a good option especially if specific breed selection or age are not of the utmost importance. If you have specific reasons for wanting a particular breed or a young puppy rather than an older dog, good breeders and even good stores can be considered.
There are good and bad breeders as well as good and bad stores. This variation in quality and reputation is true in every industry and it is no different with puppies. Home breeders are not required to be licensed inspected or trained. The challenge is to find a compassionate breeder with experience, knowledge and a good aftercare program that provides warranties and protections if an illness or problem occurs. It is never advisable to purchase from a breeder sight unseen over the internet! This is extremely risky as websites are not regulated breeders don’t have to be licensed to sell on the internet and buyers are often very disappointed. They may purchase a sickly puppy from a poor, so-called breeder, or their money can be lost in an elaborate scam with a phony website or ad. Personal referrals to a breeder or store are the safest ways to find a puppy.
A Pet Shop that has a long track record, good health warranties, and a good rating by the Better Business Bureau (which can be checked on BBB.com) is often a great source and has many advantages for the customer. Most states require that every store have a veterinarian oversee the care of the puppies and administer vaccinations. You can contact the stores veterinarian to ask questions about the store before you make your purchase. A good pet store will have a varied selection of breeds to choose from and knowledgeable staff who can explain the characteristics and requirements of many breeds to help find a good match for you and your family. Pet stores are usually required to be inspected and licensed by the state. Many states also have additional requirements, such as mandating that puppies be purchased only from licensed and inspected breeders. Stores also have to provide adequate health care and living conditions to maintain their licensing. Better stores will add additional warranties to the states minimum requirements.
The bottom line is that wherever you choose your new puppy, the people you are purchasing the puppy from should be experienced, knowledgeable and sensitive to your needs. They should be able to provide complete vaccination records, registration papers for purebred dogs, feeding recommendations, and basic training advice. Ideally they should have basic products available to help you set up at home with your new puppy. They should be able to offer health warranties in the event of a congenital illness resulting in early death, or an immediate illness requiring treatment shortly after purchase. They should also be available to you by phone or in person for future questions or assistance. In general they should be the sort of people or place that you would feel comfortable referring to other people!