The number one thing to do before picking out a new puppy is to decide whether you and your family are adequately prepared to add a pet to your household. Puppies are a huge responsibility and expense and the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. Puppies will require 3-4 sets of vaccines depending on the age the vaccines are started. Vaccines are not optional in the care of your puppy just as monthly heartworm prevention, flea control, etc. are not optional. Once your puppy reaches six months of age, he or she will need to be neutered or spayed. These are just the basics of care. One must consider unforeseen illnesses, injuries, etc. as other additional costs. Opting for pet insurance is a good way to help deflect some of these costs. PetPlan is a very reputable company to look into for pet insurance.
The next step is to decide on a size. Do you want a toy, medium, large or giant breed? Keep in mind that the larger the pet, the larger the expenses will be in general. All medications are dispensed by weight and more medication equals more money. Step three is to decide on which breed class to choose from. Do you want a Toy, Terrier, Sporting, Hound, Working, Non-sporting or Herding dog? For thousands of years dogs have been bred for very specific purposes. Even today, dogs from each breed still carry many of the characteristics for which they were bred. Sometimes these characteristics are undesirable in a home situation. By choosing the breed carefully, a lot of difficult situations can be avoided. For instance, Labrador Retrievers are very high energy dogs and require a job to be truly happy. They become destructive to themselves and to their environment if ample opportunity for exercise is not given. They need more than just a backyard, they need to explore and be engaged.
The next decision is where to obtain your puppy. The most logical choice is to obtain a puppy from a rescue or shelter. It’s amazing how many times a purebred puppy (if that is what is desired) can be found going this route. If, however, obtaining a puppy through a breeder is desired, there are many things to consider. First, refuse to meet the breeder in a parking lot or anywhere off-site. It is a red flag if a breeder will not allow you to come to their facility. Pictures are not enough to be able to assess the parents and the environment. A breeder that engages in breeding more than one breed is also a red flag. It takes a lot of time and dedication to focus on improving breed standards within a given dog breed. Avoid Craigslist and the newspaper. Check out the breeder’s contract for misspelled words, outlandish recommendations on feeding, vaccinating, etc. Having a veterinarian review it before purchasing the puppy is a great idea. Any good breeder would also have already had the puppies checked out by their veterinarian. Regardless, the puppy should be checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible. There should be something in the contract regarding a time frame for this to be done and also a full refund offered if there is a problem with the puppy discovered during its first visit.
Picking out the puppy is the fun part! The most important thing is to temperament test the puppy. First, observe how all the puppies interact with each other in the group. You do not want the shy puppy that is hiding in the corner, but you also don’t want the most aggressive puppy in the litter who is dominating all the other puppies. The puppy that approaches you inquisitively, but happily is the puppy you want. It’s also a good idea to bring a squeaky toy with you to test the hearing of the group. You can also see which one of the puppies is the most frightened by the noise. This could indicate excessive shyness and this puppy should be avoided. Once you have it narrowed down to just a few, temperament test each one individually. A really good test is to gently cradle the puppy on their backs like a baby. It is normal for the puppy to lightly struggle but a puppy that growls, excessively wiggles, or tries to bite is the puppy to avoid. Touch the puppy’s ears, feet, rump, tail, and open their mouths to assess their response. Going through this process will help you pick out the puppy that will be the best fit for your family. Along with all the extra expenses for a crate, leash, collar, veterinary care, etc., make sure you budget in the costs of puppy classes. Hopefully your pet will be with you a very long time. Puppy classes are a great way to bond with your new puppy and to teach them the manners they will need to possess to make it a long and HAPPY relationship.