Buying a puppy is a big commitment and a decision that will affect, at the very least, the next decade of your life. There are lots of things to consider, and thinking about these things far in advance will help you choose the right dog for you. It will also help your new pup settle into its new life and forever home. To make sure you are Tailwise, here are our Top Seven Things to Consider Before Buying a Dog.
What breed suits your lifestyle?
If you have just started your journey down the puppy purchasing route it is important that you do your research. First up is deciding on the right breed for you. There are 1000’s to choose from and it can feel a little intimidating to begin with. As a good starting point, ask yourself a few questions which will help determine which dog is right for you. ‘How big is your home?’ ‘Do you have any outdoor space?’ ‘How much time do you have to dedicate to your dog?’ ‘Will the dog be sharing its home with young children and other pets?’ These questions can help whittle down the breeds to a short list. One of the key factors that needs to be considered is the temperament. Some dogs are traditionally friendly and outgoing while others display a more protective guard dog demeanour. Depending on your needs, the temperament is an important factor to consider when buying a dog. The size of the full-grown dog is also vital information. What starts off as ten inches in height may end up the size of a small horse! Know your breed thoroughly before making the purchase on that cute, fluffy pup.
Do you have enough time for a puppy?
Time is an extremely important factor. You should take into consideration the time and dedication your puppy needs for basic training, socialisation, vet visits and exercise. It’s a sad fact that many puppies end up in rescue centres purely because people underestimated the demands of a new dog. A dog’s adult behaviour is heavily influenced by what it learns as a puppy, so the more time you can invest in the early months the happier and healthier your pup will be. On top of the essential needs, puppies demand love and attention to help them settle into their new homes and families too. So be sure time is set aside for play. At the very start it is paramount that you get the right balance between attention and quiet time, ensuring your puppy gets used to being left on its own. Think about your holiday time too. Do you like to disappear on long summer holidays? If so, make sure you know what you are going to do with your dog over these periods.
Is your home environment suited to the dog you want?
Where do you live? Are you in an apartment with limited outdoor space, or do you own a country retreat with acres of land for your new dog to roam around? Either way, make sure the breed you have chosen suits your living environment. Another factor to consider is who lives in the house or flat with you. Some breeds cope better with young children, and other pets. Ask your breeder what socialisation training your new puppy has had, and do your research on the desired breed. Inner city living often means that dog owners work during the day and employ a dog walker to exercise the pup. While this is fine for most breeds, make sure you do some familiarisation training to ensure your puppy is happy with a stranger coming into your home.
Can you actually afford a dog?
This is no secret: Dogs are expensive! From regular vet visits, food and toys, to pet insurance- the costs quickly rack up. Before embarking on the journey as a dog owner check your finances are in order and do a quick calculation based on the number of years your dog is expected to live for against your other outgoings. Keeping a dog healthy will be help reduce certain costs but there is no getting away with this — all dogs, regardless of breed, size or age, need an inventory of supplies.
A few items you can expect to spend big on are:
- Beds or bedding
- Toys for inside and outside
- Collar and leash
- Periodic vaccinations and other health care
- Food and water bowls
- Grooming supplies
- Crates for traveling
Are you allowed to keep pets and is your home puppy proof?
If you do not own your home always make sure you ask permission from your landlord before making the purchase. Also, make sure you consider your long-term plan. On average, city dwellers who rent move every two years. A dog likes habit and it may be more difficult for you to find another rented place with a dog in tow. Is your rented home puppy proof? If not, will your landlord be happy for you to make the required changes to ensure your home is safe to bring in a puppy?
If you do own your home, then there are a few items that need to be thought about before the puppy moves in. Is your garden secure? Are cables and electrics covered? Anything can be a chew toy for a new pup so make sure expensive items of furniture are well protected!
Should you buy or adopt?
So, you have decided that a puppy is definitely for you. The next question is where do you purchase a puppy from? There are two options, so decide if you want to purchase from a breeder or would prefer to rescue from a home or shelter. If you decide you want to purchase from a breeder then the whole process can take as long as six months, possibly longer. This is perfectly normal. Buying from a reputable breeder can help reduce the risks of buying a dog that is predisposed to genetic defects. In theory, breeding two healthy specimens with up-to-date medical records should produce a healthy pup. A responsible breeder also provides complete transparency of breed and medical history. This is vital information and helps to ensure you know exactly what you are purchasing.
The other options is, of course, adopting. If you are not set on a particular breed then head to your local rescue centre and speak to the centre staff about your living environment and needs. The staff will be able to help advise on which dog is right for you and, following a home visit and interview, the pup will be yours. Medical records won’t usually be available so you will be taking more of a risk with an adopted dog, however, your rescue centre will provide as much information and training on how to care for your new furry friend as possible. Purchasing a rescued puppy/dog is generally cheaper than buying direct from a breeder too. At the end of the day, whether you choose to buy a dog from a registered breeder or adopt, is a personal choice based on your own criteria, experience with dogs and budget.
Are you a responsible owner?
The biggest aspect you need to consider before buying a puppy is YOU. Are you ready for the commitment? Can you act responsibly and promise to protect this puppy for the next 10 years at least. Being a dog owner is a wonderful experience but one that comes at a price. This dog will majorly influence almost every decision you make moving forward. From where you are going to live to how long you take for your annual holiday. This dog will need feeding, loving and exercising for many years and therefore will also impact on your social life. Are you willing to give up that ad hoc after work pint, or the impromptu city break with your friends? Of course, all of this is still possible but the logistics of pet care will need to be thoroughly thought through. You will need to be prepared to pick up your dog’s mess in public and teach it how to deal with others in public.
Owning a dog is much like having a child, this little ball of fluff will look to you for protection, love and safety but in return, of course, you will gain a loyal, loving companion- for life.