This will be a covered in numerous parts because there are many options when it comes to finding your New Puppy, or new to you dog.
By now, you should have a rough idea of the dog you are seeking for your family. Did you decide you want a little lap dog to follow you around the house, a medium-sized sporting dog to go on your epic 10 mile runs, or a giant teddy bear of a dog to sleep at your feet all day? Matching a dog’s energy, size, and personality to your family dynamic will ensure he will become a permanent member of your pack. Some common options for finding your new pet are Pet Stores, oops litters, Reputable Breeders, Shelters and Rescue Groups.
OPTION 1: Local Pet Store
A local Pet Store appears like a great option to find your New Puppy because they have several breeds to choose from, usually come with a health guarantee and they are conveniently located in just about every location. This is where the pros run out in my mind. Pet Stores deal with moving a product and the more they move the more profit they make.
- Where did the dog come from? Since Pet Stores need to move a lot of product (dogs), they need a
Photo of the living conditions in a Puppy Mill (click for a larger image)
steady supply of young puppies. Do these puppies come from a large puppy mill or dog factory where dogs are breed constantly and kept in tight living conditions? More litters equals more money for the puppy mill.
- Long term health and genetic disorders: Many test exist today that can test for genetic disorders in adog. I responsible dog breeder would no longer breed a dog if the parents tested positive for certain genetic markers. A Puppy Mill will have little or no interest in these test as they can be expensive and many of the health issues will not show up for many years in the future. According to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Hip Dysplasia cases increases by 75% when both parents were Dysplastic dogs. If at all possible, it is always a good idea to interact with at least one if not both of the parents to ensure they are well-adjusted and healthy.
- Improper handling and socializing: The early stages of a puppy, much like the early stages of a human baby, are extremely important to shape the dog’s personality and behaviors. Puppies will need frequent human attention and be exposed to new things to challenge them. Living in a 2×3 glass cage all day is not the proper environment to socialize an animal. Many pet store dogs will have an up hill battle when it comes to house training and crate training. They are expected to urinate and defecate in the same place they eat and sleep. A dog, by nature, does not wish to defecate in the same area that it sleeps but will continue to do so once this has become a learned behavior.
- Cost: You would think since you do not get to see the parents, testing for genetic disorders, or any sort of puppy socializing that they would have a lower purchase price. The exact opposite is usually true. Pet Store Pets are commonly price upwards and even north of $1000 dollars. For this price, you could seek out a reputable breeder that will show the parents are healthy, show testing for common disorders of the breed and provide support after you take your new puppy home. A reputable breeder will care for and love each puppy and it is common to sign a contract that states you will return the dog if you are ever unable or unwilling to care for the dog. You could also seek out a shelter or rescue group for much cheaper than purchasing from a Pet Store (more on these options in upcoming Parts).
- They do little to ensure the puppy is placed in a good home. You would imagine that if someone was willing to pay over $1000 for a dog that would provide excellent care for the dog. This is simply not true in many cases. Expensive purebreds can be found at every shelter and Rescue Group.
I hope you learned a little about the pros…and mostly cons of obtaining your new puppy from a Pet Store. I know it is very difficult to not take them home because they appear so pitiful in that glass cage but you must consider the long-term effects. You may be saving that one dog from an abused life but you are providing funds to puppy mills and pets stores to continue operations. If the customer’s look elsewhere and the business is no longer profitable they will stop breeding.
(Part 2: The Oops Litter)
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right dog for you and your family. And with all of the different breeds to choose from it can seem daunting trying to figure out which breed might be best suited to your needs. You may also discover that your dream dog is not necessarily the best breed for you. I personally love huskies. I think they are absolutely beautiful and have always wanted one. However, I know I would be miserable since they require quite a bit of grooming and a lot of exercise. I’ll admit it – I want my dog to be a total couch potato!
So before you rush out and get a dog, here are some things to consider first:
1) What size dog are you wanting?
2) What sort of residence do you live in? (ie. An apartment, a single house, a farm, etc.)
3) What size yard do you have?
4) Have you ever owned a dog before? How comfortable would you feel controlling a more dominating dog?
5) Are you looking for a purebred or hybrid dog?
6) Age of youngest child, if any?
7) How much time do you have to groom your dog?
8) Do you need a breed considered good for allergy sufferers?
9) How much time will you be able to spend exercising your dog?
10) What kind of protection ability do you want your dog to have?
11) Do you own other pets?
12) How trainable would you like your dog to be?
There are many quizzes to help narrow down which breed(s) might be best suited to your needs. Dogs really are just like people, in that each one has a distinct personality. So no two dogs from the same breed will be exactly alike, but knowing a bit about the breed will help give you an idea as to what you can expect and how much time and energy may be required to care for your dog. It’s also important to decide if you want a puppy or an adult dog. Puppies are cute, but they are also a handful and they don’t stay tiny for long. You may also want to consider adopting a rescue dog. There are many dogs in need of a good home and a second chance. Look forward to a future write up on how to get your new puppy or new to you dog from a Rescue or Shelter.
You feel in love with his big eyes, playful attitude and puppy breath. Now it is time to bring Puppy home and introduce him to the family. According to the Humane Society’s 2011 pet survey; nearly 11% of U.S. households own 2 or more dogs and 17% of households own 2 or more cats. Many households will also have dogs and cats in the same home.
Introducing your new family member correctly is very important for the safety of your new pet and the safety of your current pets. Rush the meet and great and it may be difficult to recover from a traumatic introduction. I know you are excited about your new puppy and you are sure your dog/cat must be dying to meet the new little guy…but that is doubtful. Your pet may see the new addition as a threat to his place in the family pack and may lash out.
The first thing you want to do is to keep them in separate areas of the house. You can let them sniff at toys and bedding so they know someone new as entered the home. You will want to keep this up for several days so they can learn this stranger is not out to hurt them.
The first Face-to-Face meeting should be in a calm setting (small children should be put down…for a nap, not the other one). Both dogs should have a leash attached in the event that either get out of line.
If your puppy has had a couple rounds of shots and is clear to go on public outings you should have the first introduction away from home on neutral ground. Allow them to sniff at each other and don’t be surprised if puppy wants to take a little nibble on the bigger dog. After a few minutes of controlled socializing, separate them again. You do not want to stress them out. An older dog may not enjoy all that puppy energy all at once.
One of the best ways to help them bond is frequent long walks (distance will depend on the age and size of your dogs). This will help them to function as a pack and a lot of energy and focus will be used on all the sights, sounds, and smells they encounter during the walks. The majority of behavioral issues can be attributed to boredom and excess energy. A tired dog is a good dog. Do these short meetings several times a day and learn how to read your dog’s body language.
DBL (Doggie Body Language translator)
- Tucked Tail – fearful and stressed
- Wagging Tail – happy and playful
- Rigid Body – focused and may be aggressive
- Snarl (showing teeth) – can be playful or aggressive, pay attention to the rest of the body
- Sniffing – just saying hello
- Barking/nipping – barking /nipping can mean many things and it is important to read the rest of the body language and even the tone of the bark
If one of your animals become aggressive it is important to correct the behavior immediately (this is where the leash comes in handy). You do not want to chase down the dog or have to get in the middle of a dog fight. Pull back on the leash to separate them and correct with a loud “NO”. You may need to separate and try again if they become too excited. This process may take days or it may take weeks and in some rare cases can take months.
The real key is to take it slow. They will learn to love each other or at least learn to tolerate each other. You should never leave a new dog alone with your old pet until they can be 100% trusted. A cat should always have a section of the house as an escape from puppy. Take it slow and with a little patience your new puppy will find his place with your family.
Congratulations on your new addition to the family, or soon to be addition. Puppies are so much fun and deceptively cute; but remember they are cute for a reason. They can destroy your shoes, your furniture and your house. They will keep you up at night, pee in your bed, steal your food and nibble on your ears if you give them a chance.
We are here to help make your new addition a beloved family member…instead of a loathed destroyer of lives.