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How to Choose a New Puppy

Updated on July 20, 2009

Introduction

We all love puppies! They are so adorable and cute. They run up to us and jump on us, lavishing love with their wet tongues. Sure they may piddle in the corner but we can work on that. Why not go out and pick one up tonight! Your spouse and kids will love it! Ahhh, the loyalty that comes from dogs; unlike cats with their stinky litter boxes, aloof attitude and general feline fickleness.

Whoops. You are heading for a possible disaster. Will that newly adopted puppy come home with diseases? Five months from now, will you be able to afford to pay for all of that d -o - g food? Now that the neighbors are complaining, will you make the changes necessary or have to give it away? You're at work, you know. Will your spouse walk it throughout the day or will you have to rush home during your lunch break for the next 14 years?

Bringing a puppy into your house is a very emotional and uplifting experience, but like a marriage, some thought needs to go into the short and long-term relationship and needs, or you may end up with a big problem on your hands.

What You Need

Before you begin looking for a new puppy, plan to do some reflection and research for at least one month. This will prevent you from making a quick decision that you may regret. Start with an assessment of your lifestyle and needs. Do you need a smaller dog for your living situation or a large one like in "Marley and Me." Who is going to watch, walk, and train this puppy? If it's going to be you, then are you really up to all of the commitment of time and money? If it's someone else, they need to be part of this conversation.

What are your family's goals in the next year? A puppy needs a lot of attention for the first 12 months. How about five years from now? Will someone be going off to college? Will you be moving or travelling to a job that's further away? Now is the time to make your best guess, not after getting the puppy in the house.

Finally, what type of personality are you looking for? Frisky or adorable in their older years, or loyal and protective?

Local Ordinances

Having narrowed down the type of personality and physical size, it's time for a call to your local Homeowners Association. You don't want to have to take the puppy back to its original owner, or to take it to a shelter because you forgot to ask about dogs in your subdivision or community. Do you have to dispose of waste in a certain way or walk them in certain places? Now is the time to find out the answers.


Research Breeds and Needs

There is a lot of information online about dogs and breeds, but there is no greater authority or description then a book on dog breeds. Pick up a few and start taking notes. Which breeds fit your family's physical needs? Which dogs have the wrong type of personality for you? Do they need certain types of medical care or nutritional supplements? This is the longest and most important step when selecting a new puppy. Take your time and learn about the physical needs of the breeds that you're zeroing in on.  Once you've narrowed down your list to 1-3 breeds, it's time to have some fun!

Puppyproof

Make sure that you purchase some of the basic supplies before the puppy comes home. You can always return or exchange products if you need to during the first week: water and food dishes, toys, beds, baggies, fencing, etc.

Where are you going to have the puppy sleep? Puppy-proof common areas so that your new found love won't begin a bad habit of pooping in a comfy corner or chewing on your favorite sandals.

Set up a routine for walking and feeding before the puppy comes home. It's easier to change plans then make them up as you go.

Puppy poll

Who will walk your puppy?

See results

Where oh Where to Look?

Your puppy will find you wherever you go. So think about it. If you really need a certain type of dog, it will cost you. Purebreds cost hundreds of dollars, but you will get what you pay for. Take a look at lists of registered breeders and contact them.

Be careful if you look in the local newspaper or "trader" because you will find a variety of "breeders" out there. If you are after a mixed-breed or want to rescue a dog, a shelter is the best place to go. Take your time and if you think you've found one, go back a couple of times with your family to help make the decision.

Observe

It's so hard to be biased around puppies. They are so fun to watch and play with, a lot like your own kids! But just like children grow up to be teenagers, so your puppy will grow up to be a dog. You do have a choice when selecting one, so be very observant when you meet the breeder or owner. Ask to see their paperwork if they are true breeders, don't take their word for it. Observe the area they live in, the condition of their yard and house, and their personality. To get a true understanding of your puppy, you need to understand where the puppy is currently growing up, and decide if this is negatively impacting the puppy's growth.

Secondly, observe where the puppy is playing, running, eating, and defecating. The area should be free from dangerous environmental factors (roads, other animals). The puppy's eating area should be separate from their defecating area. The area should be under the watchful eye of the breeder/owner.

Finally, try to analyze the puppy's personality by watching how it interacts with people, and his/her brothers and sisters. Each dog is unique and just because it is running around doesn't mean that it will ever stop. A hyper puppy may become a hyper dog. A quiet puppy may never attach itself to anyone. Or, your puppy may be like mine and walk out the front door towards the car as if to say, "I'm the one, let's get going!"

My Favorite Puppy - Mine!

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