To many, the holidays seems like a great time to add a dog to the family. Before you go off to find the perfect dog, take some time to do your research. You should understand several things before buying a dog.
First, know that a dog is an added time commitment and financial responsibility. Do you have time to potty train a puppy? A puppy needs to go outside every couples of hours for the first few months! Will you have the time and money to take the dog to obedience classes? These classes are very important to having a well-socialized dog, especially if you plan to take your dog to public places. Do you have the money set aside to pay for routine and emergency veterinary care? Pets are not cheap and in the event of an emergency can cost over $1000.
Second, please consider who will be the primary caregiver of your new dog. While your kids may initially be excited to help take care of it, the primary responsibility needs to be on the adults in the household.
Last, consider your home. Do you have a yard that can be fenced? All dogs need some sort of containment to keep them safe, and chaining them up is not recommended. Think about the inside of your home. Are you ready for the mess of fur, slobber, and possible accidents in your home? Do you have space for a kennel in the house? Dogs are not meant to live outdoors, and if the idea of having one in your house makes you cringe then maybe a dog is not right for you.
Resources can be found on the Internet, at the library, or through your local veterinarian or dog obedience school. Two Internet sites that have a “breed selector” features are www.purina.com and www.petfinder.com. They ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle and what you want in a dog, and then return a list of appropriate breeds.
Once you decide on a breed, consider attending a local dog show or training center to observe the breed. Research any special problems, including the breed’s temperament, especially if you have children.
You can obtain the names of responsible breeders at dog show, or online at the National Breed Club sites. There are also a variety of mixed breed dogs that need homes. Shelters, rescue groups, and www.petfinder.com always have dogs in need of homes.
Please avoid pet stores and breeders that mix breeds and then state that it is the “newest breed.” A reputable breeder will want to get to know you to assure their puppy is going to a good home. They will also inform you about medical issues you may see in the breed and will be honest if they feel that their puppies are not right for you.
Be careful when inquiring on newspaper advertisements. Although many reputable breeders do advertise there, many non-reputable ones do too.
Buy a puppy from someone who allows you to see where it was raised and to see its parents. It is not unusual if the puppy’s father is not on the premises, but you should be able to see the mother in person and pictures of the father.
A responsible breeder will not sell pups less than 8 weeks old. Puppies learn a lot from their mother and siblings during those first weeks. Those who leave too early are likely to have socialization and aggression issues.
You should also find a veterinarian before bringing your dog home. Reputable breeders usually will give the pup its first set of shots and a deworming medication, but it is very important to schedule a vet appointment within a few days of getting a new dog to ensure it is healthy.
We suggest contacting your veterinarian for additional suggestions and information on adding a dog to your family. With the proper preparation, dog ownership can be fun and rewarding.