First Timers Guide to Buying a Pet Dog

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Planning to buy a first dog is exciting for the whole family. Adding this new family member can be a life-long commitment that nobody took into consideration. A family discussion should be held to decide whether or not everyone is ready to accept the new responsibilities for a 10 to 20 year period.

Once everyone is in accord, there are some other basic things to consider.

Cost-How much money is budgeted for a puppy or dog? The price of a pure breed or cross breed dog is not the same. Regular veterinary care has to be put into the budget. Food for the pets will add cost. Some equipment purchases may have to be made such as cages, sleeping cushions, and collars.

Size-The size of a puppy or dog has to be decided. Does the family want a big or small dog? What size dog will fit the family’s living environment? The frame size of animals when they become adults has to be considered.

Hair-There are hair issues that arise with the breed of a chosen dog. Short hair does require less maintenance. Long hair dogs must be groomed regularly. The chosen type of dog will likely depend upon the size and hair choices.

Gender-Male and female dogs have different temperaments. Male dogs will mark territory in every corner of their environment. Dogs can be trained not to mark territory. Female dogs have a period two times each year.

Do some research before choosing the dog’s gender, hair, and size. Do not make assumptions. Choose and study types of dogs that fit your lifestyle criteria.

The United States Humane Society offers these five buying tips.

1. Consider Adoption. One of the best ways to help prevent puppy mills is to adopt rather than buy dogs for sale. There are dozens of dogs in animal shelters. Many are purebreds waiting for a home. Rescue groups deal with dogs that are breed specific. “Hybrid” or “designer dogs as Puggles and Labradoodles are included. Mixed breed dogs make wonderful pets.

Landlord or moving issues are the most common reasons that people relinquish their pets. That means rescue groups and shelters have family-ready pets that have ended up homeless for reasons not related to bad behavior.

The cost of pets adopted from rescue groups and shelters is typically less than dogs for sale. If the price of vaccinations, neuter/spay surgery, and other extras that are included in adoption fees is taken into consideration, adopted dogs are less expensive than “free” pets.

New pets from most rescue groups and shelters fit right into the family because thorough behavioral analysis is done on each pet. That dramatically improves the chances of finding a pet compatible with a family. The rescue groups and shelters also offer advice on developing relationships with your pet.

2. Find and visit a responsible breeder’s premises. A healthy and loving environment is provided for canine companions by responsible breeders. See for yourself the way puppies and their parents are housed and raised.

Just because a customer has cash does not mean a responsible breeder is going to make a sale. If the breeder does not exercise some caution before selling a dog, there is a chance unsuspecting people are buying a puppy from a puppy mill or from someone whose only interest is making a little money because the dog has “papers.” Puppies with temperament problems and poor health that is not immediately recognized is the result.

Responsible breeders do the things on this checklist.

• Allows visits and willingly shows all areas where breeding dogs and puppies spend time. The areas are well-maintained, spacious, and clean.

• Dogs do not retreat from visitors. They appear healthy, clean, and lively.

• Breeding dogs are treated as pets. They are not continually confined to cages, dirty, crowded, or overpopulated.

• Only a few, or perhaps only one, types of dogs are bred. The breeder is knowledgeable about the special requirements of the breed(s).

• The space provided for dogs, meets the needs of the breed. Small dogs will be housed in a homelike environment. Sporting dogs will have the necessary space to exercise, etc. (Input for specific needs of the breed can be provided by nation breed clubs.)

• Puppies are not always available. A list is kept of people interested in the next available litter. The breeder refers people to other breed clubs or responsible breeders.

• Enrichment, exercise, socialization, and toys are provided that satisfy both physical and psychological needs of a particular breed.

• Encourages spending time with puppies’ parents, at least the mother, when visiting

• Maintains individual veterinary visit records and has a working relationship with at least one local veterinarian. More is better.

• Potential developmental and genetic problem details, that are inherent to the breed, are explained. Provides documentation that a puppy’s ancestors have undergone professional evaluation through breeding. (Valid testing protocols are available that include genetic disease testing.)

• Guidance for the training and care of a puppy is offered. Assistance availability is possible when the puppy is taken home.

• Provides references from people who have purchased puppies previously

• Responsible breeders are often involved in clubs at the local, state, or national level that specialize in a specific breed. They may also compete in conformation events, agility and tracking trials, and obedience trials with the dogs.

• Must meet the person or people purchasing a dog. No pet store or internet sales to unknown buyers are made.

• Multiple visits are encouraged. All family members are met.

• Allows time for a written contract, guaranteeing the health of a puppy, to be read thoroughly

• Does not insist on using a specific veterinarian

Responsible breeders require the following from people to whom they sell puppies.

• They want an explanation as to why a dog is wanted.

• They will ask who will be responsible for training and daily care of the pup. An inquiry about where the dog is scheduled to spend most of its time will be made. Any “rules” established for the puppy will be discussed. An example would be whether or not the pet will be able to get on the furniture.

• Proof from a condominium board or landlord that a dog can be kept in a rented facility, is requested.

• New owners will be asked for veterinary references if other pets belong to the family.

• An agreement to have the puppy spayed or neutered must be signed.

• The contract will also state, that should an owner be unable to take care of the pet at any time, it will be returned to the breeder.

Take the checklist along when visiting breeders. The other buying tips have to do with avoidance of puppy mill puppies.

3. Pet stores commonly claim puppy mill dogs are not sold there. They claim the puppies come from breeders. ‘Breeders’ is an elusive term that could be interpreted as a puppy mill.

4. Website advertisement, that claims puppies are “family” or “home” raised, is not necessarily true and should be treated just like pet store sales.

5. Do not be tempted to “rescue” puppies from puppy mills. Good intentions simply make space for another puppy at the mill.

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