Choosing a new family member can be a really exciting time however it can be a little nerve-wracking too! After all, a puppy can be an 18 year commitment! So how do you make sure you choose the ‘right’ puppy for you?
Personally my ‘puppy’ has just turned one; I can vividly remember walking the ‘choose the puppy road’ and finding and dodging a LOT of potholes!
Unfortunately I see many clients who have unintentionally come across some ‘pot holes’ and sadly some have even fallen in. As a professional trainer this is devastating as the heartache is so easily prevented!
The following are the main reasons I see for incompatibility between the home and the puppy:
1- Lack of research. Even if you have had the breed previously each puppy has its own personality. It is important this puppy’s personality matches your wants and needs.
2- Not waiting for the right puppy or purchasing on impulse. Waiting can be difficult, especially if you have had a recent loss. Many rescue agencies have fostering programs that can help fill this void. The wait will be worth it!
3- Lack of preparation. Ensuring that you and your home are prepared for the arrival of the puppy; lack of sleep, toilet training, providing extra meals throughout the day, large investment of time socialising and training, etc. A puppy is a BIG time and life investment!
Prepare, prepare, prepare! So how do you set yourself up for success? Write a list of wants and needs and stick to them! Remember to not only write the list for your current stage of life, but also consider how your life may change; will you have children, move out of home….??? After all a lot can happen during a dog’s lifespan;
The following was my checklist:
• Temperament/personality: I needed a puppy suitable to work with me. This meant that I needed a certain temperament; confident and calm with a high work ethic.
• I have teenage children, other dogs, cats and a rabbit so the dog must be able to cope with a ‘full house’: meet the companionship needs of my children, be confident enough to fit in with my current dogs and not be stimulated by smaller fast moving animals.
• I live with a shift worker who comes and goes so the dog must be able to cope with an unpredictable routine.
• Energy level / exercise needs: I needed a dog who could participate in my chosen dog sport of Agility. This meant that I needed a dog that was both structurally suited and was keen to play, could be energetic and willing explore and try new things.
• Size: I wanted a small to medium size dog.
• Gender: Due to the sexes of my current dogs, I wanted a female.
• Coat: I am happy grooming however don’t like long coats.
• I needed to be able to meet both parents to assess their temperaments as many behaviours are genetic.
• The puppies had to be raised in the family home and be well socialised whilst at the breeders.
Ready to go! So you have a checklist, have researched and decided that you are prepared and ready, now where do you get your puppy from? Let me break it down for you:
1- Registered breeder. These are people who specialise in pure bred dogs and are members of a governing body who regulate and give guidelines. They can vary greatly in techniques used in breeding and puppy raising so research is essential. The governing body in Western Australia is Dogs West.
2- Unregistered breeder/backyard breeder. These are people who are not regulated or licenced to breed. Again they can vary greatly so research is essential.
3- Rescue agency. These agencies source their animals from pound, public surrender and as homeless, strays or abandoned. Many of these dogs’ breeds and histories are unknown.
4- Pet shops. These animals are generally sourced from large unregulated commercial breeders commonly referred to as puppy farms or mills. In many cases puppies are removed from their mothers and litter siblings far too young and undergo high amounts of unnecessary stress.
5- Internet. There are many registered breeders on the internet however there are also many suppliers who are puppy farms/mills. This industry can be a landmine so please feel free to contact us for guidance.
Many trainers (Kalmpets included) have a ‘preferred breeders list’ which contains a list of ethical and responsible breeders. We can also help when it comes to choosing the perfect dog for you. Please contact us and we can guide you in the right direction.
And finally the following is a short list of things to avoid:
1- Siblings! Yes it can be tempting to purchase or adopt 2 siblings however this is not only double the workload but also means you will be having 2 dogs going through the same stage of development at the same time. This can lead to many problem behaviours!
2- Do not purchase a puppy to ‘fix’ your existing dogs behaviour. Dogs learn through social mirroring which means that there is a high chance that your puppy could learn the behaviour from your existing dog!
3- Do not purchase a dog on impulse. There will always be others!
4- Picking the puppy because you felt sorry for it. It is very easy to be drawn to the puppy that is shy, poorly or the ‘runt’ however choosing a ‘middle of the road’ and robust puppy is possibly the better option.
5- Take the puppy prior to 8 weeks of age. Developmentally it is very important that a puppy remains with its litter until 8 weeks of age.
Contact us to start your puppies education and socialisation so we can get you off to the best start!
Kalmpets Head Trainer