Dogs and Puppies | A guide to responsible buying & adopting

2 months ago | Alix

Whether you’ve been planning to welcome a new four-legged friend into your family for some time, or you’ve recently decided to begin your research, the contents of this guide aim to support you in understanding the key aspects and commitments that come with purchasing or adopting a new puppy, or older dog. We’ve broken this guide down into five easy to navigate sections, allowing you to get all of the information you could need, in an easy to follow and informative way. In this guide we will cover topics such as:

 

 

Pre-purchase Considerations

Purchasing a dog or puppy is a sizable commitment and must be approached with the same careful consideration that would typically go into other financial commitments or investments, such as a home or car. There are a variety of questions you must ask yourself in the process of deciding whether introducing a pet into your home is a responsibility you can uphold. 

It is important that you will have the ability to meet your dog’s needs, providing them with support, care and love to last a lifetime. You may desperately want to own a dog, or believe you have the potential to be a brilliant dog owner, but if you cannot meet the needs and requirements of a dog due to your current lifestyle, now may not be the time to explore this long term responsibility, as it simply wouldn’t be fair on them. 

Firstly, it’s necessary that a conversation takes place with all members of your family or household, regarding welcoming a puppy or adult dog into your home. Owning a puppy can be hard work at times, so it is best to ensure that everybody is on the same page. It will help if members of the household can stick to using the same language, house rules and training commands to avoid confusion. It’ll also be much easier for a puppy to adapt to their new home if everybody is committed to raising them, potentially including shared responsibilities. 

It must be understood that a buying dog or puppy isn’t limited to a one time purchase. You must be able to afford to care for them for the duration of their lifetime, which depending on the breed and any pre-existing or developing health conditions, can average 12-15 years. Owning a puppy means it will be your responsibility to guide them through life as well as provide them with the necessary things to support their needs, meaning that you will also need to consider the financial aspect of owning a dog. 

 

Some of the necessary purchases you will need to make immediately and overtime will be:

  • Food/treats. These should be the correct type to nurture their growth and development. The type of food you feed your dog can vary with age and may need to be specialised in order to support potential health conditions. If this is the case, you should always seek veterinary advice to ensure you are supporting the health and wellbeing of your four-legged friend. For a new puppy, you may find it beneficial to ask their breeder if there is a specific dog food that they would recommend or for the details of the food they have been providing. 
  • You will need to purchase individual food and water bowls, which should be easily accessible to your dog. 
  • A collar (with a tag attached displaying your address) and a durable lead. 
  • A variety of toys to support and maintain mental stimulation and prevent your dog from growing bored. 
  • Bedding and/or a dog crate. An appropriately sized crate can be more efficient for a puppy, as it will allow them to establish a sleeping space and provide you a safe area to place them within when they are not supervised. 
  • Waste disposal bags for picking up after your dog when out walking, or going to the bathroom in any outside space at home. 
  • Pet insurance. 
  • Paying for services at grooming salons. 
  • Training or behavioural classes. 
  • Regular veterinary consultations and check-ups, which may result in needing to purchase specialised medication or food. This can extend into covering the costs that come with unexpected veterinary surgeries or aid as a result of illnesses or incidents that may be beyond your own control. 

There are a variety of other factors that should be considered when deciding whether your household will be able to maintain caring for a dog for the entirety of their lifetime. One such consideration is space. You must assess whether your home has sufficient space to support your dog once they are fully grown. The space that you have to offer will be a determining factor when deciding upon the size of dog you will get. 

For example, it would be inappropriate to own a large dog in a small flat based in the city, with no garden or local greenspace. The amount of space that a dog is confined to can have a large effect on how comfortable they are, especially if they are a larger dog with lots of energy.

You must also question whether your general lifestyle can comfortably incorporate a puppy or adult dog. If you are working full time and cannot find suitable company for your dog during the day or when you are away from home, now may not be the time to introduce a pet to your household. Leaving a dog at home on their own regularly can result in the development of behavioural problems. Dogs are very social animals, and similarly to humans, can feel lonely at times and therefore rely on having people at home to give them attention and support. 

This need for human contact is especially necessary for puppies, having been removed from the familiarity of their mother and siblings and moved to a completely new environment, they will require higher levels of attention and comfort during what can be a stressful and scary transitional period. 

Whilst some every day dog related tasks may seem simple and small, some can have the potential become time consuming or feel like a chore. You will need to question if you have the time for everyday responsibilities such as feeding, walking, training and bathing your dog. You will also need to be flexible in terms of your availability and time, especially if faced with a scenario that could require you to rush to an emergency veterinarian should the need arise.

A dog happily walking

It is important that you are able to provide your dog with a routine. Daily requirements such as taking your dog for a walk can have a large impact if neglected, potentially causing your dog to become bored and gain weight, which can also affect their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Whilst to some it may be a silly consideration, if you are wanting to introduce a puppy into your family, you will need to be comfortable with cleaning up after them, both in public and at home. It is normal for your puppy to have a few bathroom related accidents at home before they are fully able to grasp potty training, so you should be prepared for this.

Overall, puppies are a big responsibility for a variety of reasons, but especially because they are completely reliant and dependent on your guidance. It is up to you to teach them right from wrong, and guide them in learning what you will and won't allow them to do in their new home. This way they will understand the rules that you put in place, sticking to them even when unsupervised. Your puppy will look to you to keep them safe in what is essentially a brand new world to them.

Of course, bare in mind that you do not have to purchase a puppy. It can be just as enjoyable and fulfilling to welcome an adult dog into your life. In some cases, an adult dog can be a better introduction to dog ownership for a variety of reasons. An adult dog should be out of that manic puppy phase that requires your full attention. Adult dogs typically have a better understanding of basic training and obedience within the home or in public environments. They should also be more familiar with general household noises and smells, therefore not as frightened or in need of guidance within their new home. 

 

Responsible Buying

Before we move on to the next section, let’s briefly touch on puppy farming, what it is and how to recognise the potential warning signs of ingenuine breeders. 

Puppy farming is the act of breeding puppies for the sole purpose of profit. The condition in which these breeders keep their dogs can sometimes be unsafe, small, neglected spaces. Puppy farmers don’t typically care about the health of the puppies they are producing in the long run, as long as they can live long enough to withstand the viewing and transaction period.

Oftentimes, being brought up in an environment such as this can cause an extreme amount of stress upon the puppies and their mother, resulting in potential behavioural issues due to a lack of socialisation and handling. Puppies that are produced via puppy farming may also face a variety of health concerns, as their breeders will typically neglect veterinary treatments, necessary vaccinations and worming. 

Whilst we will try to inform you of the potential signs of puppy farming throughout this guide, here are some of early warning signs that you should keep in consideration during the early stages of communication with potential breeders. 

Warning signs can include:

  • Avoiding or declining your request to view the mother of the litter alongside her puppies, instead asking to meet you somewhere other than their birthplace or home. This could imply that the puppies are produced at a puppy farm opposed to a genuine home environment. 
  • Not having, or refusing to supply you with the correct paperwork or evidence of any veterinary health checks, vaccinations or micro chipping certificates. 
  • Actively avoiding questioning or refusing to share with you information that you may request to know about the puppies. If the breeder does answer questions you direct towards them, they may respond with general and basic information, which could be a sign that they don't understand the technicalities of the breed they are producing, among other things. They may even neglect concerns you have about the puppies, citing them as being general issues related to the breed with no further explanation or recognition of potential health concerns. 
  • Refusing to provide you with proof of their breeding licence can be a sign of an ingenuine breeder. Many breeders are required by law to apply and be accepted for a breeding licence. Their eligibility for this rests upon the amount of litters they produce per year and if the individual intends to sell the puppies. 

Whilst it can be tough to do, you should always walk away if you suspect a breeder of puppy farming. You may want to purchase a puppy in hopes of saving them, but doing so won’t save any future puppies that are produced and kept in the same manner. If you pay for a puppy bred from a puppy farm, you are funding the breeders ability to continue illegally breeding in this way. Some of the best steps you can take in combating puppy farming are reporting an ad if it seems ingenuine or causes concern, reporting welfare issues or breeding licence breaches to the appropriate authorities as well as calling the police if you are a directly witness of any animal cruelty.

 

The research you should carry out prior to viewing a dog 

Doing your research and educating yourself prior to viewing a dog, means that you can manage your expectations, as well as avoid any awkward situations where you may feel as though you are being pressured to take a dog, even if you don’t want to or aren’t comfortable. Making an informed decision is always far better than making a rushed decision that could be wrong for you, but is too late to amend. 

A good starting point is to get thinking of some questions you would like to ask the breeder that you are planning to contact. Speaking to them ahead of time, over the phone or via email can be a practical way to discuss their breeding practice and the health history of the puppies and their parents without being hypnotised by sweet puppy eyes and wagging tails.

 

You should also be able to comfortably answer questions that the breeder may have for you, regarding your overall lifestyle and living space. A good breeder will question these things to ensure that you are the right fit for one of their puppies, this will reassure them that you can provide a safe and happy home environment. 

Some of the key questions you should consider asking are:

  • Are you a licenced breeder and do you have proof or evidence of this licence? As previously mentioned, breeders that produce a certain amount of litters per year and go on to sell those puppies require a license, so asking the breeder this question and visibly seeing proof can reassure you that they are experienced in following the proper breeding practices and procedures and that they are a recognised, registered breeder. 
  • Have the parents of the litter been screened for health conditions that most commonly affect the breed and do you have evidence of this? Some conditions only affect certain breeds of dog, therefore it is important that the parents of the litter are individually tested for potential breed related conditions, as well as other, more general ones. Knowing in advance if the parents of the litter have conditions that could potentially be passed down to their puppies will influence your purchase decision. It is always worth doing some research and understanding any relevant or common health conditions ahead of time, so that you can get a better idea which breeds may require some extra care and management. 
  • Will I be able to view the puppies alongside their mother at their birthplace? Whilst this question may seem picky and specific to some, having the ability to view a litter of puppies interacting with their mother, at their place of birth can be a useful indication of the kind of care that they have received, especially depending on how the mother and puppies respond to the breeders presence. This natural interaction can also give you an idea of the temperament the puppies may grow to have. 
  • Will I be able to visit more than once before bringing the puppy home? Following from the last question, there should be no reason why a trusted breeder would decline a request to view the litter more than once at their place of birth. If a breeder suggests that you meet them away from their home, it could be a sign that the puppies you are intending to view have been produced via puppy farming. Being able to visit potential puppies, alongside their mother (and father if possible) more than once will reassure you that the breeder is genuine and that the puppies are being raised in a safe environment.

These are just some of the key questions you should be thinking about researching and asking, but there are still many relevant questions you could ask before making a firm decision. You should never be embarrassed or hesitant about asking as many questions as you feel necessary as being certain and fully informed before making a lifelong commitment such as this is of the utmost importance. 

Young puppy with mother

Another talking point worth visiting revolves around the mother of the puppies, including how old she is and how many litters she has produced. It is recommended by The Kennel Club that female dogs should not breed if they are under the age of one, nor should she continue to breed if she is over the age of eight. She should also only produce up to four litters within her lifetime. Exceeding these recommendations can be a welfare concern and impact her overall health. This could also be a sign that the mother of the litter is being used for puppy farming. 

Another notable thing to remember is that puppies shouldn't be removed from the care of their mother until they are at a  minimum of eight weeks old, as it is only at seven weeks old that they are fully weaned off of consuming their mothers milk. Some breeders may make the decision to keep a puppy in their care for a longer period of time if they believe it will be beneficial for their overall health and development. 

Remember, if you suspect a breeder of producing litters via puppy farming or are a witness to any animal cruelty, you should always walk away and report this to the appropriate authorities. 

So, if you have asked the appropriate questions and feel as though you are informed and trust the breeder you have been communicating with, you can comfortably move along to the next step of the process - visiting the puppies personally!

 

Considerations when viewing a dog

Remember, you can never ask too many questions when considering the commitment of introducing a new dog or puppy into your life, so it's smart idea to keep a list of any further questions you may have for in-person visits, this way you can feel fully assured that you are making the right decision and that the breeder in question is genuine. On this note, viewing the puppies in person can make it considerably harder for breeders that aren't genuine to avoid questions or hide things, especially now that you are clued up on the warning signs of puppy farming.

An example of this could be the breeder exclaiming that the puppies are fully weaned off of their mothers milk, which usually takes place around the seven weeks old mark, but if you can visibly see this interaction taking place between the puppy and mother, you may begin to question if the breeder is being honest about the age of the puppies, among other things. 

Of course, it is understandably easy to get hypnotised by those sweet puppy dog eyes, but there are other things that are important to assess before coming to your final decision. 

  • Firstly, what does the home environment of the puppies really look like now that you are viewing it in person? Are they in a suitable, clean and safe environment, provided with the things that they require like food and water, as well as toys to keep their growing minds stimulated? Personally seeing the environment that the puppies have been raised in can reassure you that they are being cared for appropriately. 
  • Do the puppies appear to be developing, happy and healthy? Young puppies should be alert and responsive to the sounds you are making towards them - making gentle movements and noise should test their hearing and sight. The puppies should also be a healthy weight for their age, not too large, but not too frail. 
  • As well as the puppies, does the mother (and father if available to see) appear to be happy and healthy? It can be good to have an interaction with the mother and father of the litter to get a better idea of the temperament that the puppies may develop. 
  • Have the puppies had their regular veterinary checks? Have they received worming treatments and their first vaccinations? The puppies should have had regular veterinary checks to identify any potential health concerns. It is common for puppies to be born with worms, usually passed in utero or through their mothers' milk, therefore it is necessary that they have been wormed consistently to keep this under control and that they should have had their first vaccinations before being taken to their new homes. 
  • Are the puppies visibly comfortable around new people? Young puppies should be familiar and comfortable with being handled. Socialising puppies is the responsibility of the breeder as well as making sure that they are used to typical household noises and smells.  

If you feel comfortable and certain that the puppies are happy and healthy, having been bred in a safe and well looked after environment, you can begin to think about choosing your puppy from the available litter, but just like the other parts of the process, there are still things to consider when it comes to this decision. 

Two puppies playing

You should aim to go with a puppy that can somewhat confidently approach you, but that doesn't play too aggressively with their littermates. Bare in mind that the appearance and gender of the puppy you choose isn’t the biggest deciding factor, your focus should be more heavily directed towards their temperament. It is good to be aware that female dogs who aren’t spayed will experience being ‘in season’ twice a year. During this time they will bleed and their scent will attract unneutered male dogs, which can result in unexpected litters if you aren’t watchful. 

To avoid any disappointment, now is a good time to question if the breeder has an existing contract of sale placed upon the puppies. A contract will typically state the responsibility that both yourself and the breeder have to uphold. These can have a variety of requirements, such as getting the puppy neutered or spayed at the appropriate age, sending updates if the pup has to be rehomed or may prevent them from being a show dog. View any contracts that the breeder presents you with carefully and with the utmost consideration, making sure you agree with the points presented before signing. A copy of this document should be available for both parties.

 

Purchasing a dog 

Now we move on to the purchase of your four legged friend! Of course, this process can differ from breeder to breeder, but most of these experiences have similarities. Oftentimes, certain breeders may ask that a non-refundable deposit is paid in advance, allowing you to secure the puppy of your choice and avoid time wasters. Most breeders will not expect you to pay this deposit before viewing, but if it is requested that you do, this could be a warning that the breeder you are in contact with is ingenuine.

At dogs and puppies, we advise that you never pay a deposit until you have viewed the puppy and learnt of their health background (including the mother/father of the litter). Ensure that you are provided with, or request written confirmation or receipt of this deposit, along with the conditions of this transaction.

Puppies that are priced unreasonably high or questionably low could be a sign of potential puppy farming. Purchasing a puppy isn’t about getting a bargain, but the asking price of any pet should be a reflection of their breeding, health and overall condition. Remember that if you do not feel comfortable at any point whether it be viewing the puppies or discussing the payment, you should walk away. 

We recommend that you stick to paying the full balance of the transaction on the same day that the puppy will be coming home with you. Regardless of when this transaction takes place, you must ensure again that you receive a clearly signed and dated receipt as proof of this purchase, as well as all related paperwork, such as certificates of veterinary checks and microchip details. You should also gather any information regarding previous worming or flea treatment dates, so that you can continue this routine if necessary.

You may also want to ask the breeder what food they have been providing for the puppies, as well as any recommendations they may have that can help to make this transitional period as easy as possible for both yourself and your new puppy. The breeder might gift you with some useful beginners equipment or provide you a toy or item that carries the familiar and comforting scent of their mother or littermates, to help them to settle in.

 

Caring for your new dog

And so, the time has come for you to finally bring your new family member home. You may be unsure where to start, so here are a few pointers to help you start the process! It may be best to take some time away from a busy work schedule or the general bustle of everyday life to spend some time with your new pup! They will need consistent supervision, attention and guidance. Investing in this quality time with your new puppy will allow the bond and trust that you share in one another to strengthen and grow. 

It is vital that you remain calm and patient in dealing with your puppy during this time. Remember, they have just left their most familiar surroundings, mother and littermates, so being placed in a brand new environment with new noises and smells will likely be slightly stressful and scary, but this won't be the case forever! 

Whilst the excitement of bringing a new puppy home can be infectious for all members of the family, you can keep your new puppy feeling safe and comfortable by keeping noise to a minimum and by avoiding too much fuss and handling. Allowing your puppy to explore at their own pace, with your quiet guidance and supervision will allow them to settle in slowly. At this time, it is best to keep exploration to a minimum, such as in just one or two rooms to avoid overwhelming a young puppy. 

Typically, dogs thrive when exposed to routine, so a good way to introduce your puppy to this can include simple things, such as keeping their food and water bowl, as well as their bed/crate and toys in the same area of the house. This will allow them to become familiar with finding things they may want or need at their own leisure, also helping to raise their confidence in being independent at their new home. 

A puppy exploring in the garden

Similarly, it would be beneficial to stick to the same area of outside space when taking your puppy to the toilet, doing so can aid the potty training process, as well as improve their confidence when it comes to venturing outside of the house. Like most experiences with your new puppy, this should be done under close supervision, ensuring they remain in sight and safe. 

Similar to babies, puppies don’t necessarily have a designated time to sleep and will choose to rest whenever they feel the need to. This will typically result in small naps throughout the day and needing to be taken outside to go to the bathroom after waking up. If your puppy is sleeping during the day, take care not to wake or bother them, as doing so won’t provide them or you a better night’s sleep in the evening. 

On that same note, you can expect to be woken up a few times during the first initial nights of your puppy acclimating to their new home. Again, approach this with care and patience. You can attempt to establish a nighttime routine of sorts with your four legged friend, shaping their understanding of when to settle down. keeping their bed/crate in the same spot and guiding them to this area when it is time to settle down will help this process, allowing them to establish that this is where they will need to go when wanting to sleep or settle down for the evening. 

Dog’s have a very strong sense of smell, so being introduced to a household full of new smells could be overwhelming. If your puppy is having a tough time getting settled, it can be beneficial to try to emulate the feeling of being with their mother and littermates, within their crate/bed. This can be achieved by providing them with something that may have the scent of their mother on it, such as a pillow or shirt, received from the breeder. If this isn't something you have access to, you can mimic the comfort of the puppy’s mother by making their sleeping space cosy with blankets, toys and a hot water bottle, nestled beneath the layers of blanket, if you choose to do this, you must make sure that the hot water bottle in use is safe - not too hot and unable to be directly accessed by the puppy.

Small adjustments such as this will hopefully make the first few nights in their new environment much easier to process and will provide them with some reassurance. At night time, you should aim to leave your puppy in their bed/crate without bothering them. Whilst it can be hard to ignore them if they are whining or whimpering, you must allow them to do this undisturbed, as giving them attention whilst they are making noise or causing a fuss will further encourage this behaviour. You are able check on them once they have stopped whining, but they should still remain undisturbed. You should be prepared to take your new pup for regular bathroom visits during the night, if they aren’t provided with a pad to go to the bathroom on.

Now is a good time to discuss and agree upon training rules with the members of your household, as you will need to begin to put them to practice. If everyone is on the same page and is able to consistently show the puppy what is and isn't allowed, (eg. being on furniture) with no confusion between you, your puppy will be able to establish these rules much faster. 

Puppy playing

Whilst your puppy requires lots of careful attention during the early stages of settling into their forever home, it is necessary that you slowly introduce them to being left on their own, once you feel it is safe to do so - but only for for a few hours at a time. This will help to curb any anxieties that may arise from being left alone in the future, as well as avoid any separation anxiety or potential behavioural problems. 

Bringing a new puppy home is the start of an exciting and rewarding adventure, and it isn't too hard to keep a puppy feeling safe and happy in their new environment - but you should continue to approach this transitional time with encouragement and patience. Your puppy will soon begin to settle in and become more and more familiar with their surroundings, gradually requiring less supervision and guidance. 

Whilst there is still plenty to learn and more adventures to be had, once your new puppy has fully settled in, you can begin to enjoy years of bonding and learning with your new best friend!

Alix

Author : Alix

Number of post: 1

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