The decision to add a new member to your family is a huge decision and is not one that should be taken lightly. The fact that it is a puppy, and not a human being does not reduce or take away the importance in any way.
It is easy to walk past a pet shop and fall in love with the first pup you see, but choosing a puppy should be more than loving what you see. It should be about choosing a companion to spend many years with.
What to do before you Choose a Puppy
Before making the life changing choice to adopt a new puppy, you will need to go through a checklist of pointers to make sure that you and your family are in fact ready to take on a new member and the added responsibility that is sure to come with this decision.
Some of these pointers will include:
- Children – If you have children, especially small kids, you need to make sure that they are capable of handling animals appropriately. You will also need to make sure that the pup of your choice is good with kids. Should you choose a breed of dog that tends to be a little aggressive at times, it is best to keep your children out of harm's way.
- Other dogs – If you already have dogs, you need to make sure that they will accept the new member of the family.
- Job – If you have a full time job that demands your attention for many hours a day, it is better to keep the puppy search for when you have more time on your hands as caring for a pup takes a lot of time and effort.
- Vet bills – Ensuring that your pup is healthy will cost a pretty penny at times as veterinary bills can become quite problematic. If you have a female dog, you may choose to spay her, which will also cost a few pennies!
- Breeder vs pet shop – You will need to decide whether you are going to look for your companion at a pet shop or at a dog breeder. Should you choose a dog breeder, you will have more time to evaluate and observe the pups before making your decision.
Observing Before Choosing
If you choose to adopt a puppy from a breeder, you will have the advantage to observe the puppies in the litter before choosing the right pooch for you. There is a wide variety of things to look out for when observing the pups, including:
- Make sure that the puppies in the litter are curious when you arrive to see them. They should be upbeat and at ease with their litter mates. Should a pup shy away from you, you should take caution to rather not choose a pup from this litter as they can become very anti-social as adults.
- Do not buy the largest or smallest puppy in the litter. Try to stay within the average size of the overall litter size.
- Make sure that the breeder you deal with knows what he or she is doing. Breeders should be really passionate about the overall well-being of the puppy, and should know about any dog health problems that the puppy might have, its demeanor of the puppies, and all such critical information.
- Pick up each puppy in the litter. Should the puppy be squeamish, it is a clear sign that he or she does not wish to be cuddled.
- Give the puppy a rub on its ears and paws to watch its reaction.
- Make sure that the puppy is in good health. They should have shiny coats and wet noses as well as good vision.
Taking Your Puppy Home
Taking a puppy away from his mother and fellow doggies may be quite overwhelming on such a small body. As there will be a great deal of excitement and commotion when the new addition arrives, it is best to keep your pup as calm as possible. If you have other dogs, it will take them a while to get used to the new set of paws. If you have kids, they might get over excited and scare the pup.
- Make sure that your new puppy has a spot to call his own. Doing so will bring a sense of security over the pup and may build his confidence in the new environment.
- Make sure that the pup has his own bowl to eat and drink out of. It is best to keep the same brand of dog food the breeder used. You can then gradually introduce him to home-cooked dog food or raw dog foods should you wish to do so.
- As the puppy will not be house trained yet, you need to prepare yourself for the occasional "wet puddle". Make sure that you introduce the option of potty training at a very early age, thus making them more independent.
- Puppies are very curios creatures and can get up to a lot of trouble if you aren't looking. Make sure that the pup has an adult's supervision, preventing any accidents that may result in a time-out for your puppy.
- If is best to stay at home with your puppy for the first few weeks of him coming home. Traveling with your pup may confuse him as to where his home is and could make it difficult for him to adapt to his new surroundings.
- It is beneficial to buy a soft toy for your pup to keep him or her company. Interacting with this toy can help your puppy adjust to his new surroundings as he or she would be used to interacting with the other littermates.