For many of us, taking on a puppy or dog is the only time we will get to choose our family. If you are taking on a puppy you could be signing up for a 15-year commitment which is why you really, really want to take a long, hard think about what the creature you are going to bring into your life. Who do you want to bring into your family home?
A puppy’s presence will change the dynamic of your family, it will bring joy that you didn’t know possible but it will also create stress you never knew and there are some things that I wish people knew before buying a puppy.
1. Puppy farmers, puppy dealers and awful puppy breeders are everywhere
They have become clever at hiding in plain sight, they are part of organisations that you trust and they are there to make money. That is their only function. They do not care about the health, the welfare, or the upbringing of a puppy, nor the damage that a poorly bred dog could do to a family. They will find ways to convince you, they will lie to you and trick you which is why you have to go into looking for a puppy by seeking independent advice.
A licensed breeder means absolutely nothing in my opinion, it just means that the council knows about them. I’ve known a ‘licensed breeder’ to have around 300 breeding bitches, that is a puppy farm. I urge you to do your research.
2. A badly bred, badly socialised, badly raised puppy will impact your life in ways you never dreamt possible
Whether that is veterinary bills, death, behavioural issues that impact your family and their ability to live with a dog, the knock on impact of taking on a dodgy, poorly researched puppy is gigantic. Do not convince yourself otherwise.
3. Be realistic
Much of the time we work in ‘ideals’ such as ‘I’ll run with the dog at the weekend’ – forgetting that there are five other days of the week where you won’t be able to run with the dog. But if we look at that as a percentage, it suggests that for the majority of the time you don’t actually want to live with a dog that requires a big daily walk or even run, as not fulfilling this basic need will end in upset, frustration and tears for you, and exasperation for a dog.
When you are considering your puppy, the type that you choose is critical. Think realistically about your life and the breed of dog that will fit into it; it’s unrealistic to expect the wrong breed of dog to fit into your life seamlessly.
4. When you call a breeder, if you are asked to choose by colour and gender then you should hang up immediately
Choosing a puppy is far, far more complicated than that. And anyone who says otherwise is not someone you want to be buying a dog from.
5. The Covid Pandemic has set dogs back by many years
It allowed literally thousands of puppies to be farmed and flogged with no checking, no due diligence and many hideous breeders are still using Covid as a reason for not allowing visitors. Do not accept it. Do not consider it. You need to meet your dog in person before deciding if they are the right fit for you.
6. Do your research with @PuppyLoveCampaigns
There is a brilliant puppy farm campaigner on Instagram called @puppylovecampaigns and here you can be alerted to the actual names of breeders, the kennels still trading, the grim lies that they are weaving. If you are considering getting a puppy I would urge you to follow them and trawl through their information, it may just save you from taking on the biggest mistake of your life.
7. You need to feel convinced that the dog you met at the breeder’s home is the mother
You need to like her, think her personality is amazing before you even consider taking a dog of hers home. You need to ask about the father, be given contact details to be able to discuss the father’s personality and breeding. You need to see health check and test paperwork and then you need to be able to verify it by calling up the relevant vets or places where tests took place. You need to turn into a detective to make sure that what you are being told is the actual truth.
8. You should be bringing your puppy home at 8 weeks
To live with you, to learn about your home, about your family, your job, your set up and your situation. By missing out on that 8-12/13wk period you may end up with issues in later life.
9. Bringing a puppy home can and will be stressful
It will feel overwhelming too, but if you have a well-bred dog and carefully selected puppy it should also feel joyful. It is a rollercoaster of emotion but if you have made the right choices and decisions, it will work out beautifully in the end.
10. Don’t get obsessed with where your dog sleeps
I see new owners doing it all the time, feeling pressured to do a certain thing when it actually makes them more work, makes it harder for everyone and really unenjoyable in those early days. A puppy is not designed to simply leave its litter and exist alone, so lower your expectations and just focus on helping your new puppy feel loved, safe and secure. From there, everything else can flow.
The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read by Louise Glazebrook is out now. Buy it here.