So you’re thinking of getting your first puppy?

Photo: Paul+photos=moody
Photo: Paul+photos=moody

Puppies are cute there’s no question. The real question is are you ready for your first one? I think the answer to this one is the same as having kids…you might think you are but you have no idea what’s in store. We read a lot before you got our puppy but there’s tons of things they don’t tell you about such as you dog might not really know how to play (we actually had to teach our puppy to play rather than just try to bite and shake our pants instead). Your puppy might not be bothered by their collar or leash but they have zero interest in going for a walk….and so on. If this doesn’t deter you then great! The next question is where do you find that cute fuzzy ball of fur?
Most people realize that it’s probably not a good idea puppies on buy and sell website (you might be supporting  a puppy mill or backyard breeder). So that leaves rescues groups/shelters or breeders and I’ll discuss both.

Adopting

There are many, many abandoned/stray/unwanted dogs (even puppies) that are available from rescues/shelters. I personally prefer organizations that foster the dogs rather than have them in a shelter environment especially if you adopting an older puppy. Dogs in shelters don’t act “normal” and who would blame them, it’s a very high stress environment. A foster allows them to act more normal, introduce them to basic training in many cases (housebreaking etc depending on the age of the pup) and can hopefully provide some insight into the quirks of the pup (and to be clear all dogs have quirks no matter where you get them….just like people). Breed specific rescues are even better because they can help ensure you are prepared for the challenges and have lots of experience with that particular breed. Finally, not only are you saving a life but they are usually cheaper than breeders (of course money shouldn’t be the only consideration).

Breeders

There are lots of breeders out there but how do you find one that’s reputable? First, find out of they test for common issues in that breed. Many breeds are prone to hip/elbow displasia, eye or heart problems that have a genetic basis. Therefore, responsible breeders should be testing all their dogs before breeding and be able to provide proof if asked. Most will also show/work/do breed surveys to ensure the dogs they are producing are in line with the standards for that breed.

Ask how they raise their puppies. Are they handled from birth? Do they do any socialization prior to the puppies going home etc?

Next, arrange a visit with the breeder to see what their facilities are like and meet some of their dogs. Are they clean and the dogs reasonably friendly?

Finally, see if you can find out from other people what their experiences with a particular breeder were. This can be tricky but a good place to start is breed specific forums such as germanshepherds.com or goldenretrieverforum.com.

Getting a puppy is a big decision so it’s important to do you research.

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