Puppies certainly know how to draw in the crowds. People immediately fall in love with their cute little faces, soft fur and playful ways, making it all too easy for the potential owner to select the wrong companion. You must, therefore, be more objective when choosing a puppy, by considering your environment, lifestyle, other family members (particularly children under five) and your expectations of dog ownership. Making the right decision at this stage could make all the difference between providing your puppy with a lifetime of happiness and it ending up in a shelter somewhere because you are unable to cope.
Another dilemma faced by first time dog owners is whether to opt for a pedigree or a crossbreed. If you purchase a pedigree puppy it is obviously going to make it easier for you to gauge the eventual size of the dog and its temperament – although nothing can ever be completely guaranteed! A crossbreed, on the other hand, is going to be more of a challenge in that department.
Wherever you go to choose a puppy, you must try to find out as much about it and its background as possible. Whether the puppy is part of a litter or on its own, you must spend as much time with it as you can; see whether it comes willingly towards you, hears sounds easily and is alert and inquisitive. Spending this quality time with a puppy will enable you to see how well it interacts with you and other members of the family.
Other areas to consider are the type of coat the puppy has, as this will tell you how much grooming will be required and how frequently the coat will shed. You will also need to perform your own visual health checks to be sure everything meets with your requirements:
- Nose should be cool and wet with no discharge
- Ears should be clean and clear with no discharge.
- Eyes should be clear and bright with no discharge.
- Teeth should be strong and white.
- Gums should be pink and healthy.
- There should be no signs of breathing problems or coughing.
- Coat should be shiny with no sign of infestations, bald areas or redness.
- The puppy should be nice and solid, with no ribs protruding and no potbelly (as this can indicate the presence of roundworms).
These checks cannot replace a proper health check performed by a veterinary surgeon, but they will go a long way to helping you come to the right decision.
As well as making rewarding companions for adults and children, a warm and loving home is also essential for a dog’s health and well-being. So even though there are so many adorable puppies out there to choose from, you must remember to choose wisely and not let your heart rule your head!