When you’ve made the decision to adopt a puppy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. It’s very important that you choose your puppy carefully though. That means you won’t be choosing based on sheer cuteness, but on many factors that will affect how that puppy fits into your family as it ages. Take advice from an experienced dog trainer to choose the right puppy for you and your life style.
Before You Adopt a Puppy
First and foremost, make sure it is actually time to adopt a puppy. Wanting a dog and having a dog are two very different things. If you want to maintain harmony in your household, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have enough space for a dog?
- Do you have enough money and time for a new puppy or would an adult dog be a better choice?
- Where will you find a dog boarder when you travel?
- Are you ready to deal with the destruction and mischief a puppy can bring?
- If you have other pets, what will you do to ensure they all get along?
- Will the rest of your family be comfortable with the responsibilities a new puppy brings?
- If you rent, what breeds will your landlord accept?
Choosing the Right Type of Puppy
Once you’ve answered all the questions leading up to getting a puppy, it’s time to consider the type. There’s a lot more to it than picking a breed or puppy based solely on looks. For example, do you want a:
- Mixed breed or purebred? A lot of people opt for purebred puppies because it’s easier to predict what they’ll look like and how they’ll behave as they age. If you do your homework and purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder, they should also be able to give you lots of insight into the temperament and health of the individual puppies they are placing. That said, a mixed breed puppy with the right training can be a great companion and may not develop some of the genetic health problems seen in purebreds.
- Large or small? Small dogs seem to have a lot more energy but usually do fine in a smaller home or apartment. Large breeds grow and age more quickly. Therefore, they generally have more growth oriented health problems and shorter life spans than small breeds. They also tend to need more space – both in the house and in the yard.
- Male or female? Males are often larger and when left unneutered tend to get into fights more often and roam. Females, when left unspayed, will come into season for about three weeks twice each year which brings its own host of problems. Better yet, plan on getting your puppy spayed or neutered at the appropriate age. Altered dogs live longer, healthier lives.
- Puppy or a full grown dog? If you thought you wanted a puppy, consider all the training, destruction, and vet bills that come with that age group. A full grown dog has already gone through these stages, but they may have picked up some bad habits along the way, causing a need for retraining.
Choosing the Best Puppy in the Litter
If you’re buying a dog from a breeder and selecting from an entire litter, don’t immediately go for the puppy that jumps all over you. While they may seem excited to become your new pet, they may also have a tendency to be overly energetic and pushy. When choosing from a litter, you’d be wise to:
- Get to know all the puppies by spending time and playing with them.
- Avoid extreme behaviors such as super energetic and aggressive or very shy and fearful.
- Evaluate their health by assessing their energy level, eyes, coat, and body condition in general. You’ll want to choose a puppy that is well rested, alert, has bright, clear eyes, breathes quietly, has an attractive coat, and has just a bit of baby fat over the rib cage.
- Observe how the puppy interacts with the other dogs and animals, not just you or other people. Especially if you have other animals at home, this can be a critical factor in your choice. A dog that plays well with others and is curious, but not aggressive, with people and other dogs and animals will be easier to socialize and train later on.
For more information on selecting a puppy, take a look at these resources: