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- Selecting a Dog
Before the New Puppy: What You Should Know
So you want to buy yourself a cute new friend. Well, what a coincidence, I did too! I ended up choosing a Yorkipoo, a mix between a Yorkshire Terrier and a toy or small Poodle. Let me tell you, she’s a handful. Her “breed” is said to be stubborn. As I write this, she’s jumped onto the couch and is doing her level best to chew up my earphones. “No” only deters her for a few seconds at a time. If only I’d known what I was getting into.
I’ve learned a lot raising my little bundle of hell. (Though at only five months, she’s still got plenty of hell-raising to do.) Here are some of the things I’ve learned that I believe may be helpful to those thinking of making the commitment.
I’ve always heard, “Don’t get a Dalmatian if you don’t want to walk it twice a day.” That’s not always true, but, like every saying, it does have a kernel of truth. Yorkies are said to be larger than life and to have Napoleon complexes worse than Napoleon himself. This is my second dog with Yorkie blood and I can say, without a doubt, that they do think they’re much bigger than they actually are. You have to know what you want before choosing a breed. Do you want an apartment lapdog? A hypo-allergenic, non-shedding type of friend? A jogging partner? A dog that’s good with kids? Research the breed so you can at least have an idea of what you want to get.
The American Kennel Club is the website you’ll want to choose to see all the AKC registered breeds available.
Rescue or Buy?
This answer’s different for everyone. I bought a puppy because I’d just lost the dog I’d had for eleven years. She had been a Yorkshire Terrier and, during her lifetime, I found out that I loved the breed. Of course, Yorkies’ are popular so they rarely need rescuing (the ones that do have medical expenses that I can’t afford). Also, they’re quite expensive to buy. So, I ended up settling on a less-expensive mixed breed. I’m glad I did since now I can’t imagine life without my little ankle biter in it.
There are many different ways to find a puppy for sale. But the best way may be to find a reputable breeder. Puppy stores, especially small ones in malls, have been known to buy their puppies from puppy mills. My cousin bought a Pomeranian from a local store and ended up with an irreparably sick puppy that she couldn’t afford to keep.
When you visit a breeder:
- You have the benefit of picking from several of the same type of puppy
- You can pick and choose based on personality
- Responsible breeders can be found though official websites (such as the American Fox Terrier Club’s site)
Still, even with a breeder, it’s important to research and to visit the location your puppy was born in to make sure the area is clean and the parents of the animals look healthy. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) can show you the common scams and pitfalls of both normal and online pet buying.
Adoption is the second avenue to take. Now, major pet store chains do have adoption days, but I’ve gone that route before. You buy the puppy for way more money than a shelter would charge, you get home, and the puppy is sick, which of course, they didn’t tell you. The better way to go about it might be to visit your local shelter or to find a pound puppy from these websites:Petfinder or Adopt a Pet.
When you visit an adoption center:
- You’re rescuing a dog that could be put down if not chosen
- You’ll pay less than you will for a purebred/puppy store dog
- If old enough, the puppy will already be spayed/neutered and current on vaccinations
Where do you Stand on the Adoption/Buy Issue?
After choosing your new puppy, you’ll need to do some things to get ready for it. Not all of these suggestions are obvious, so bear with me.
Visit Your Puppy
There’s nothing more important than making sure the puppy you’ve chosen is the right one for you. Does it pass the Puppy Test? The Test is where you cradle the dog in your arms or attempt to turn it over onto its back. If the puppy kicks like a maniac, then… Well, when did you steal my dog!?
Just kidding. You can tell a lot about how calm, or high-energy, a puppy is from interacting with them beforehand.
Buy a Puppy Pen and Crate
I know, I know. I thought it at first too. I won’t need that! I’ll just cuddle her, watch her, or crate her. No in-between. But the fact is, puppies don’t always want to be held. And you have housework to do, or dinner to fix, or a million other things that can’t be done while holding a squirming bundle in your arms. Keeping a puppy contained when you can’t monitor them isn’t cruel, it’s necessary.
A pen will give the puppy somewhere to relax in the daytime. A crate will give it somewhere secure to sleep at night or when you need to work. As an added bonus, both of those items are fairly easy-to-clean.
Note: Never put training pads inside your new pen alongside a puppy bed. The puppy may be puppy pad trained, but that doesn’t mean they won’t drag the bed onto their designated pee spot. It may be better just to use an old towel.
Find Out What Type of Food They’re Used to Eating
A puppy will adjust to its new environment better when their food stays the same. Trust me. Dogs are creatures of habit. I’ve had enough dogs refuse to eat new food (simply because it’s new) that I’ve learned to make the experience a gradual process instead of a jarring transition.
However, you should also make sure the food is specially made for puppies. Puppy food has an overabundance of calories and nutrients to help them grow, while dog food has less of that because it’s aimed at maintaining proper nutrition in an already full-sized animal.
Don’t Skimp on the Puppy Toys
I don’t mean price-wise. Price doesn’t matter. I mean that when I brought my puppy home, I learned that she got bored of her toys easily. She hopped from one to another quickly. Sometimes she tried to play with two at once. I found out that it’s best to have a wide variety of toys for your puppy to play with. Some examples are: toy tires, stuffed animals, balls, Frisbees, and/or teething rings. Which brings me to my next category.
Teething is Inevitable
Your puppy will bite and teeth. And at first, it’s really cute. Then it starts to hurt. Puppies don’t automatically know that their bite hurts you. They have to learn that. So, patience, training (and sometimes a spray bottle) are key. Teething toys and treats can also be a good idea to buy beforehand.
Get a list of Vaccines
See if you can get a list of vaccines that lists what your puppy’s already had. You’ll need the list so your veterinarian can get an accurate read on what your puppy still needs to have done.
Research Vet Plans
To take your puppy to the groomer or a dog park, you’ll need proof that they’ve been vaccinated, so you can’t skimp on this either, no matter how expensive the whole adventure is starting to get. And, yes, I was very surprised at how expensive puppies can get once you take everything into account. But there is a saving grace that I didn’t know in the beginning. And that is that most veterinarians have some kind of Puppy Plan in place. What this means is that instead of paying individually for vaccines and spaying/neutering, you can pay for it in a bundle (for less money). My Yorkiepoo cost about $500.00 after all was said and done, but the payments were split up into monthly increments.
Pick Out a Name
I know it doesn’t feel like it. But probably the last thing on your list is picking out a name. If one doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t stress it. Get to know your puppy for a few days, and look around for unique dog names, before deciding. I should have gone with Sutton… Oh well.
Is That All?
And that’s really all there is to it. Getting ready for a puppy is just a matter of making a list and checking it twice. You won’t get everything right the first puppy, or the second, but eventually experience and taking the time to do some quality research will prepare you for your newest best friend.