Have you been contemplating adding a new puppy to your family? Are you thinking about getting a dog like the one you grew up with, or are you drawn to a particular breed because you think they’re cool? We have seen and heard it all when it comes to puppies:
Puppies, in general, can be frustrating, but when you have a puppy that is not the right fit for your family, these frustrations are amplified! We put together some key points to think about when choosing a puppy.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
It is so easy to fall in love with the “cutest” puppy. You know what I’m talking about, the one with the little white paws or the spot around their eye. Never choose a puppy simply by looking at pictures. The “cutest” one in the litter will not always be the best fit for your family.
When choosing a new puppy, remember that a puppy turns into a full-grown adult dog in 2 years. Genetics play a huge factor in a dog’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. We encourage you to research the breed you are interested in before making this lifetime commitment. What was that breed initially bred for, and can you provide the enrichment it needs to fulfill some of the ancestral traits? If not, you might be left with an adult dog you have no control over or a dog with a significant behavioral problem.
Temperaments to match
Within every litter of puppies, there are different temperaments and personality traits. Find the puppy that best suits you and your family. Are you hoping for a social butterfly that can one day be a therapy dog? The shy dog in the back of the pen who doesn’t want to interact with you might not be the right dog for you. Do you want a dog that enjoys playing but also enjoys being lazy at times? The puppy at the front of the pen who is non-stop jumping on you and biting at your hands for 30 minutes will likely not enjoy those lazy days or downtime.
Potential health risks
You may not be thinking about this now, but in a few short years, it may become a concern. What health risks might that litter of puppies have to face? Some breeds have a higher risk of having cancer or heart issues in their later stages of life. Will you be battling kidney disease or collapsed trachea problems? Knowing what you MIGHT be in for will help you choose the right puppy for you and your family. Can you financially support a major health concern that requires regular trips to the vet or daily medication? If you are set on a particular pup and everything lines up except health risks, then we recommend getting pet insurance early on so you will be covered if you get bad news.
Know the history
We will start by saying that we support both rescues and breeders. We work weekly with a local shelter and do behavioral evaluations, temperament testing, and light training with shelter dogs. When picking out the perfect pup, we recommend meeting the mom and dad dog when possible. When choosing a pup from a shelter, you likely won’t have the opportunity to meet the parents and that’s okay. But understand that sometimes temperaments from the parents are instilled in those puppies. If you are getting your puppy from a breeder and they tell you that they can’t introduce you to the mom, then you might be dealing with some aggression or other behavioral problems that might have been passed down to the pups. What were the first 8 weeks of life like for that puppy? Proper exposure to different things like sights, sounds, textures, and smells along with proper socialization during those first 8 weeks is critical in puppy development.
If you find that you got a puppy that seems more than you can handle, please find yourself a trainer early. The old wives tail that says “he’ll grow out of it, he’s still a puppy” does not apply to most puppies. Believe it or not, what puppies learn early on typically becomes the rule for themselves as adults. So that puppy who is constantly pulling on the leash at 5 months old will more than likely still pull on the leash when they are 2 years old without proper training. The only difference is that he or she is much bigger and stronger at that point.