Picking Your New Pet
dog trainer offers advice on selecting pet, breeder
Selecting a pet for your family is a major life decision. And as with any major life decision, it warrants some planning, family discussion, and thoughtfulness. Here’s a quick guide to get you on your way.
Things to think about when selecting a dog
• Most important: Make sure if you have children, you pick a breed of dog that is good with kids. Temperament is the most important, so pick a breed of dog that is conducive to your lifestyle.
• Are you active, and do you have room for a large dog to run daily?
• Do you want a dog that sheds? If not, grooming is expensive and needs to be done every three months – and that can be costly depending on the breed of dog.
• Big dogs are harder to walk.
• Some dogs drool.
• Protective breeds can be aggressive.
• Puppies are a lot of work – housebreaking, crying at night, vet bills for shots, obedience training – so would an adult dog be better fit than a puppy?
Where to find your new family member
• Pick a good breeder who is reputable by looking at referrals from a veterinarian, a kennel club in your area, or maybe a trusted friend. Make sure you visit the kennel and look at the conditions: Is it clean? Is the staff knowledgeable? Look at the sire and dam (mom and dad): Are they friendly? If you cannot see the dam, buyers beware!
• Do not buy from a puppy mill (someone with many different breeds). Pet stores often buy from puppy mills! No quality breeder will meet you on the highway or halfway.
• Resist impulse buying. Instead, have the patience to make a responsible choice. Responsible breeders usually have a waiting list of puppy buyers. They rarely have a sign out front or newspaper advertisements.
• Never pick out your puppy until it’s seven weeks of age. They are too young to leave before seven weeks.
• Make sure both parents have hip clearances and other necessary clearances for your breed. (Your pre-buying research should help guide you.)
• Most breeders have contracts. Look them over. Is the breeder willing to provide you with references and numbers of other people who have purchased puppies from them?
For families, I highly recommend golden retrievers, Labradors, collies, beagles, springers, standard poodles, cocker spaniels, and cavalier King Charles spaniels, just to name a few. The American Kennel club has a great breed book to look at all the different breeds and decide what’s right for you!