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Choosing the Right Puppy for You

Choosing the Right Puppy for You

[endif]--So… you've decided to bring a new puppy into your life…

You have some important decisions to make before you pick out that little furball.

Though it’s very tempting to pick out the first little one that bounds up to you, please take some time, do some research and pick the right breed, then the right breeder and finally the right furbaby for you and your family.

Choosing a puppy to add to your family is an important, long-term decision. You need to do everything you can to be sure and get it right? Here are some tips and ideas to help you along...

FYI: Though you can find your new pup before it is ready to leave its mom, do not be tempted to take it home before it is 8 weeks and eating well on its own. That 8 week mark is the ideal time to pick your puppy. Before this time your puppy needs to be with his/her mother and siblings for proper development and to start learning socialization.

The Right Breed

Google the breeds you are interested in or get a book to read on different breeds. Think about what you and your family like to do and how a dog will fit in to your lifestyle. For instance, do you want a dog to hike with or maybe play Frisbee at the park? Perhaps you want a lap dog that will quietly keep you company on short walks. Do you have small children to interact with?

Call your Veterinarian to find out if they have any thoughts about a particular breed, or know of any problems you should look out for.

Do some research to determine if there are any specific breed ailments you need to be aware of. Certain breeds are prone to various genetic physical and mental problems such as cleft palate, blindness, deafness and hip dysplasia.

Sometimes a dog obedience trainer can give you valuable insight into a dog breed they have worked with.

The Right Breeder

Choosing a reputable puppy breeder is a critical step towards purchasing a great lifelong companion. Good breeders breed wonderful, hardy specimens of their chosen breed and are a font of helpful information.

On your visit to a breeder, the overall appearance and cleanliness is your first glimpse of how a pup has been raised. Beware dirty, small pens—simply turn around and continue your search elsewhere.

Is there a waiting list to purchase puppies from this breeder? It's a good sign if people are prepared to wait in line for their puppies.

Are the pups raised indoors with plenty of human interaction, at least at the start? Your breeder performs the all-important role of beginning the socialization process, housetraining and some basic obedience training…well before you will be able to take the puppy home.

Have a look at the mother (dam) and father (if possible) of the puppies before you choose one. Do you like the look? This is what your puppy will grow to be.

Ask how often the puppies are handled. The pups should also be very comfortable with being handled by people of all shapes and sizes.

Ask all kinds of questions—don't hold back. A good breeder will be happy for you to ask just about anything. Ask about the puppy’s food requirements, their socialization process, the shot schedule, housetraining and anything else you can think of.

Put your trust in a good breeder when choosing a dog. They know their breed and that puppy. Listen to their advice and recommendations.

The breeder will provide you with basic instructions regarding your puppy. Things like health care advice (vaccinations, worming), feeding schedule information and ongoing support.

Finally, it’s time to play with puppies!

First, just quietly observe the litter. Look out for things like how the pups interact with each other. You want an active, playful pup, but not one that is too dominant or overbearing with his/her litter-mates.

Next, do a general health check of each puppy. They should be nice and round - not fat, and certainly not skinny. Have a close look at the pups’ eyes, ears, gums, teeth and wiggle butt. You want to see bright eyes, clean ears, pink gums (watch the sharp baby teeth!), a shiny and clean coat, and no sign of any discharge or debris.

Look for a confident little pup who bounces up to you and your family with head held high and tail wagging with excitement.

When you've narrowed it down to one or two puppies that you like, check their hearing like this—with the puppy facing the other way playing with another member of your family drop a set of keys on the ground or stamp your foot. The puppy should react immediately, even be a little startled by the noise and then ideally he/she will come over to investigate.

How’s the pup’s energy level? Is it quiet and relaxed or a blur of energy? It’s important that the pup fit your family’s lifestyle. Energy levels will vary a great deal between individual pups, even between pups in the same litter. After spending some time with the puppies you can make a judgment yourself, or the breeder will give you some insight.

Pick the puppy up, hug him and cradle him. It’s OK if he squeals and wriggles for a moment, but he should settle down and peer back at you after a moment or two.

Now, touch the puppies all over their bodies including paws, mouth and ears to monitor the reaction. A puppy that has been handled from an early age won't have any problem with you doing this.

Be sure and take the pup in for a vet checkup and get acquainted visit within 24-72 hours. Be vigilant during this visit as the vet’s waiting room can be full of germs that can make your pup sick.*

*Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Puppy shots may not have taken affect yet—depending on mama’s immune system and how long the pups have discontinued nursing, age of pup, timing of shots, etc.—so do not let your pup associate with strange dogs or be in strange places until it is about 12-14 weeks old and has had a series of puppy shots to be sure it is covered.

Taking these steps one-by-one will ensure you end up with a healthy, well-adjusted and happy companion so…