We all know that having a pet is like having another, furrier, member of the family. So the decision on whether to get a puppy is massive. It’s always crucial to plan ahead and really consider how the new arrival will fit into your lifestyle and budget in the long term. Don’t just jump into buying that cute little puppy you’ve just seen, however tempting it is!
The first thing to consider is which breed (or crossbreed) to opt for. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and although each individual is different, their breed can predict their expected lifestyle needs and behaviour to a certain extent. Things to consider include their needs for exercise, stimulation, grooming and average life expectancy, among others. The Kennel Club can be a useful source of information on breed characteristics.
Once you have decided on which breed will suit your lifestyle the best, it is time to find a breeder. The Kennel Club have an Assured Breeder scheme to encourage good breeding practices. Some dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to certain diseases, and there are health schemes for some of these conditions. It is important to check to see if the puppy’s parents have been screened for any of these conditions where applicable. When it comes to choosing your puppy, you must visit it in the presence of its mother at least once. This would ideally be in a home environment, rather than a kennel situation. The puppies and mother should all look clean, have a nice shiny coat, and be lively, playful and friendly. The breeder should be open to answering any queries you have, and good breeders should also be keen to find out a bit more about you, to ensure that their puppies are being placed in a good home. If you are not happy, do not buy the puppy as this only encourages disreputable breeding practices. Puppy farms are not always obvious at first glance.
Also consider whether actually getting a puppy is the best thing for you, or whether you would prefer rehoming a rescue dog. Rescue and rehoming centres often house puppies as well as adult dogs. Some of these dogs may already have health or behaviour issues, so it is important to be fully informed before taking them on. Also, rehoming an adult dog often means that you avoid the initial training issues that you may have with puppies. Many rescue dogs make fantastic dogs and it is very rewarding to help get them out of a kennel environment and back into a home. Don’t be surprised if the rescue centre asks for a contribution towards their costs. These dogs may have had quite a lot of care before being ready for rehoming.
Puppies tend to be rehomed from 8 weeks of age. Once you have your new arrival, it’s always sensible to bring them in for a health check with one of our vets, just to make sure everything is okay. Bring any paperwork that you have been given with you so that we can see if they have had any medications already, such as flea and worm treatments. Our vets will be able to give you advice on a preventative health care plan for the future. It is usually wise to initially feed the same food as the breeder until the puppy has settled in, before gradually weaning over to a high quality puppy food of your choice. We do stock excellent puppy foods in the practice and are always happy to give dietary advice; if you are unsure, just give us a call!
It is important to socialise your puppy when it is young so that they grow up to be a well-adjusted pet. However, they should only come into contact with fully vaccinated dogs until they have completed their vaccination course. We also offer free puppy parties at the practice between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks. They are a great way for puppies to get used to socialising with other dogs in a safe and controlled environment. They also allow the puppies to get used to coming in to the vets when they are well, and we generally find our puppy party graduates come in to see us very enthusiastically as they grow into adults! Parties take place at the practice every other Wednesday at 5.30 and last approximately 45 minutes. Check out our Facebook page for loads of pictures from our puppy parties. It is also good to consider taking your puppy to training classes as well trained dogs are happy dogs!