by Martin Barrow, DVM
The Right Match
What is your lifestyle? Are you active and interested in dog training or agility? Will the puppy be alone for more than four hours at a time? If so, can you arrange for someone to visit and take the puppy outside to go to the toilet and play a game. Will your life change in the near future? If so, will a dog still fit into your schedule? Have you got children? What will suit your circumstances best, having a bitch or a dog? Try also to do as much research as possible about the breed you are interested in. You can get information and advice from breed books, the Kennel Club, the internet, or by visiting dog shows and talking to breeders.
Do you have the time and patience a puppy needs?
A puppy requires quality time with you for games, training and grooming. It’s helpful to observe how your child interacts with a relatives’ or friends’ dog. It is important that younger members of the family are gentle, respectful and sensible with dogs.
Can you provide the mental and physical stimulation a dog needs?
On average a dog needs at least 40-60 minutes daily exercise through walks and games. Certain breeds will need considerably more time than this. By being aware of the natural breed tendencies you can find ways of allowing the dog to express itself, which will then ensure you have a contented canine. Can you afford it? Expenses include: food, veterinary bills, insurance, toys and grooming requirements. As a general guide, the bigger the dog, the bigger the bill!
Have you had a dog before?
Even if you have, it could be a good idea to read a puppy book to update your knowledge and prepare yourself for the different puppy stages. Consider taking your puppy to training classes or look for socialisation classes in your area that provide opportunities for your puppy to interact with other canines and people. This will ensure it grows up to become a sociable, well balanced and outgoing dog that is welcome everywhere.
Do you have space?
Having a small house does not have to be a problem so long as your dog gets sufficient mental stimulation — games, activity toys, training, as well as regular long walks.
Pure bred or mongrel?
Cross breeds can be some of the healthiest dogs but be aware of the puppy’s parentage. The dog you will end up with will have characteristics of its parents. All pure breed puppies have traits (both mental and physical) that are unique to that particular breed. The dog it eventually becomes, however, is also very much dependant on the environment and experiences it has as it’s growing up. Also, consider other pets in the household — will they get along? Will they teach your new, impressionable puppy good or bad habits?
Where does the puppy come from?
View the breeding establishment. If the puppies have been reared in a home environment, it will make the transition from the breeder to your home easier. Be aware of hereditary conditions of your chosen breed Check the medical history of the puppy’s mother and father. With large breeds, for example, check for hip scoring. Finally, best of luck finding your puppy.
If you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact one of the team at Moreton Hall Veterinary Centre on 01284 747000.