Everything You Need To Know About Getting A Dog

Everything You Need To Know About Getting A Dog

There’s nothing more exciting than welcoming a new member into the family home – especially if they’re fluffy and can chase their own tail. Yes, getting a dog is a big step, and it can be hard to know whether you’re making the right decision if you’re not sure what you should be looking for. We spoke to the experts and asked them what we should be considering when picking out a new companion, from adopted dogs to breeder pups…


Make Sure Your Puppy Is Old Enough
“Typically, you can adopt a puppy from eight weeks, but most professional breeders recommend waiting until 12 weeks. This will give the puppy time to get through the ‘fear stage’ which takes place from eight to 11 weeks, when a puppy is most likely to develop lifelong fears. Staying with their mother during this time allows them have a good role model, helping them to grow up happy and confident.” – Experts at Dogfest.com
Make Sure The Breeder Is Licensed
“You should always buy puppies from licensed breeders. Make sure you see the puppy’s mother, where it has been living, and check if it has been exposed to other animals or children. The puppy should have been wormed and had at least one round of vaccinations – puppies should be vaccinated at six to nine weeks of age and then again at ten to 12 week. They become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. You’ll need to do this if the breeder hasn’t.
“When picking a puppy, make sure it has clean eyes and ears, no signs of illness and appears sociable and active. Don’t buy a puppy if it appears unwell, antisocial or shows signs of significant anxiety or any aggression – this could lead to problems later down the line.” – Dogfest.com
Ask Plenty Of Questions
As David McNaught from Dogs Trust explains, there are a number of questions you can ask when buying a puppy. These include:

Can I see the puppies with their mum? It’s absolutely essential to see the puppies with their mother. Some unscrupulous people claiming to be breeders might in fact be dealers who have bought the pups in. They’re likely to be poorly bred, might be ill, and are usually too young to leave their exhausted, poorly-treated mothers. If they survive, these puppies rarely make good pets, and you’ll be fuelling this cruel trade where money is the priority and welfare of the dog is ignored.

How old are the puppies? They must be at least eight weeks old to leave their mother.

Are the puppies weaned? At seven weeks they should be fully weaned. If they’re not, they could be younger than the breeder claimed.

Can I return the puppy if there are any health problems? You should take your new puppy to a vet for a health check within 48 hours. A good breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him or her.

Is the puppy Kennel Club registered? If so, make sure you’re given the registration certificate and pedigree when you pick up your puppy. You should also get some free health insurance for the first few weeks.

Is the Puppy microchipped? It’s a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register their own details prior to sale. The microchip must be registered to the breeder and it’s considered an offence if they offer to chip and register directly into your name.
Ensure The Breeder Checks You’re Right For The Puppy, Too
“The breeder should take an interest in you and your lifestyle and ask questions to ensure you’re able to offer a suitable home. The breeder should ask about your home, lifestyle and your experiences owning a dog. They may even ask to visit your home before or after you buy your puppy – these are all signs of a responsible breeder. You don’t have to provide paperwork to most breeders.” Dogfest.com
Check How Many Litters The Mother Has Had
“It’s against the law to breed a bitch more than six times in her lifetime. If the breeder breeds frequently they’re required to have a licence. A good breeder will not breed from a bitch on two consecutive seasons and will only allow their bitches to have three to four litters during its breeding life. Ideally, the breeder won’t breed from a bitch under two years old or over eight years of age.” Dogs Trust
Get The Right Paperwork
“If purchasing a puppy, you must make sure all relevant paperwork is available for inspection when visiting the puppy. This includes the pedigree and registration papers, hereditary screening papers of the parents (for example, hereditary eye disease or hip dysplasia if appropriate to the breed).”  – Dogs Trust

“Your dog purchase from a breeder should include a receipt for your payment, a formal contract or bill of sale, formal breed paperwork for a pedigree puppy and proof of vaccination/veterinary paperwork if they’ve had health checks.” Dogfest.com


Be Aware Of Past Traumas
“Depending on the problems you inherit with a rehomed dog, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll need a little specialist help from an experienced trainer or behaviourist. Choosing a rehome dog isn’t necessarily easier or harder than a puppy, it’s just that the challenges and rewards are different.

“Puppies, on the other hand, are cute but they are hard work, make no mistake. I’ve lost count of the number of clients who liken it to having a baby. That said, if you have the time and are prepared to put in the effort, there’s nothing like the lifelong bond that develops between an owner and a dog who arrived as a tiny puppy.” – Graeme Hall, Head Trainer at The Dogfather, offering one-to-one dog training sessions and behaviour consultations across the UK


All Dogs Require Training
“All dogs, like children, need at the very least to know how to behave nicely. We don’t all want to win Crufts’ obedience next year, but we do all want a well-behaved dog. Training forms a big part of that.” The Dogfather
“You should start training your puppy from day one. Establishing rules and boundaries early on will prevent problems when the dog is fully grown. If you encourage your puppy to jump up or allow them on furniture, fully expect them to do that as a fully-grown adult.” Dogfest.com
And Training Can Take A While…
“I’m inclined to say it takes forever. Whether you’re human or canine, learning never really stops. Lack of practice is the biggest cause of bad behaviour creeping back in. To teach a puppy the basics – sit, down, stay – should only take a few weeks, but it varies enormously depending on the age of the dog, the breed, how smart your individual dog is and, to a large extent, how good you or your trainer are.
“My golden rule? Be sure that what you’re doing is the right thing. Get some advice if you need it and then keep consistently doing those things. Being both persistent and consistent is what gets results.” The Dogfather

Choose A Breed That Suits Your Lifestyle
“Choose a breed depending on your lifestyle – size is an obvious place to start. A Great Dane in a studio flat is clearly not a match made in heaven. Less obvious, perhaps, is the energy level of your chosen breed: how active are they? And how active are you? Do you need a breed that’s known for being good with children, or other pets? Does your chosen breed have a track record for good health? These are things to think about.” The Dogfather

Be Aware That Some Dogs Are Prone To Certain Behaviours
“While there are always exceptions to the rule, breeds certainly do have their own characteristics. Labradors are famously easygoing but they can be champion chewers as puppies. Some breeds are known for being especially ‘barky’. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your circumstances. Personally, I really don’t want a dog that barks very much, but for many clients a dog that raises the alarm when a stranger approaches the house is a good thing. Make sure you do your research.” The Dogfather


Be Prepared
As Dogfest.com says, getting a new puppy is an exciting time, but you don’t need to break the bank when you bring them home. Essentials include:

Leads: You should have a long lead and a short lead. The long lead helps you train a puppy when you are in open spaces and gives them freedom while keeping them safe as they learn to come when called. A short lead is used in most other situations, such as on walks.

A collar with ID tag: This should feature your name and phone number.

A bed or crate: Crate training can be a brilliant way of giving you and your dog peace of mind by giving them somewhere to retreat to. It’s very important you crate train your puppy. If you have a car, you should also have a crate for your puppy in the back.

Food and water bowls: Plus the right type of dog food for their needs (check with the breeder or adoption centre if they require a specialist diet).

Chew toys: These are essential for growing puppies who will be teething.

Frisbee or tennis balls: Chase play can be a fantastic way to tire out your new puppy.

Treats: These are vital for training, which you should start from day one. The smellier the better!
Ensure They’re Vaccinated
“Regular vaccinations are essential for the health of your dog. Some vets now charge a one-off fee to cover the lifetime vaccinations of your dog, so it’s advised that dog owners look for this type of scheme locally. To reduce the price of vaccinations, some vets have ‘loyalty card’-type schemes, where you can get free vaccinations during National Vaccination Month.” Dogs Trust
Get Your Dog Spayed Or Neutered
“Letting your dog have puppies is incredibly expensive and these days there is no guarantee you’ll be able to find new homes for them. Complications during pregnancy and birth aren’t covered by pet insurance, so think about neutering. Neutering can also have preventative health benefits for both males and females, so can save you a lot of money in the long run.” Dogs Trust

“Female dogs can be spayed from around six months old and there’s no benefit to waiting until they’ve had their first season. Some of the health benefits of spaying are actually reduced if you wait until your dog has had a season, however some larger breeds can develop other problems if they are neutered too early, so you should discuss this with your vet.

“Male dogs can be neutered from six to seven months old although the exact age varies depending on their breed, so speak to your vet – but don’t leave it too late otherwise the benefits associated with castration start to reduce. The cost of castration or spaying a dog can vary a lot depending on the type of dog you have so it’s best to check with your vet.” – BlueCross.com  
Be Aware Of The Long-Term Cost
“This depends on the individual dog, however the PDSA says that on average, you can expect your dog to cost around £6,500 - £17,000 over its lifetime: up to £12k on small dogs; up to £13k on medium dogs; and up to £17 on large dog breeds.”Dogs Trust

For more advice and information, visit DogsTrust.org.uk

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