The pandemic has seen a surge in dog ownership. According to the Pets Food Association 3.5 million households have acquired a new pet in the last 12 months.
In many ways, there has been no better time to introduce a furry friend as a new family member. There has been plenty of stay at home time for most of us. One thing a new arrival requires, to settle and undergo initial training. There are some major downsides to these figures. A percentage of pets may suffer the negative consequences as we return to “normal”. Not used to been left alone and lack of socialisation to name a couple. Sadly there will be the abandonments as well. Like any Christmas period, the sudden rise in acquisitions over the pandemic will have similar outcomes.
That is by no means a ‘no’ to getting a new pet though. Animals are great to have around and play a vital role in the family unit. We have no idea what we would do without our dog and cat.
Thinking of getting a pup? In this blog I am going to outline some of the process, what to do, look out for and have in place.
Finding the right dog for you.
The research period. The fun bit. Read, watch and ask as many questions as you can. If you like the look of a dog, stop and ask the owner about the breed. There is an extensive selection of dogs out there. Choosing a breed, type of dog, pedigree or cross, male or female, new pup or rescue dog takes time. Allow for this, there is never any hurry. A dog is for life and you want to be certain of your choice before committing.
Things to think about include;
- Where do you live? Town or country, house or flat. Do you have a garden, park or open space? Where will you exercise, toilet and find space with your dog?
- The family unit. Live alone or with partner? Are there any children in the house? If so, how old, how many?
- Your age? Young or old? Able to walk long distances or not?
- Finances. Buying a dog isn’t cheap. Keeping one can be expensive. Feeding, vet bills, annual vaccinations, worming, anti-ticking, de-fleeing and insurance soon mount up. It isn’t always the case but rule of thumb, the larger the breed the more cost in their upkeep. This is also true for Pedigree breeds.
- Time. Getting a dog is like having a child. A lot of time has to be invested, especially in the initial months. Do you work? If so, how many hours in the day are you away? Work locally and able to make it home for lunch? Is there anyone in the family who can? A very young dog shouldn’t be left alone for more than a couple of hours. Even fully grown and used to being left, 5 to 6 hours should be the most.
Finding your pooch.
The calendar organised, family and friends prepared and pre-warned. The time has come to find the pup. You’ve decided on the type and size of dog that suits you and your situation. If your choice is to take on a rescue dog from an organisation such as Blue Cross, then brilliant. This is always a worthwhile thing to do. There are hundreds of dogs out there looking for new homes and love. Any charity such as blue cross will help match you with an appropriate companion. For this blog though I will advise you on what can be a complicated process of buying a new pup.
There are many places to look but start with the Kennel Club. Obviously there’s also the internet and socials. Look in magazines like ’Town and Country’, ‘Country Life’ and any general dog magazines. You’re looking for a legitimate breeder that is registered with their council and the Kennel Club. It might be necessary to travel some distance and you want to be prepared to do this a few times. Don’t buy after only one viewing.
Sadly, there are a lot of rouge breeders out there. For example, puppy farms and breeding from stolen dogs is a common practice. If the breeder is registered and is willing to invest time with you, are transparent about the dog and its history. Plus also willing to see you at least a couple of times, some weeks apart. Then these are good signs. A good breeder will also have the welfare of the pups they’re selling as their priority. They should be asking you questions as well. Have you owned dogs/pets before etc,. Also, any breeder should give a new owner some grace period after the sale. An opportunity to return the puppy. Ask about this and if ‘yes’ this is definitely a good sign. They are often in a position to find another buyer if for whatever the reason, the puppy doesn’t suit.
This part of the process can take some time but it is worth being comfortable with where you buy.
Found a possible puppy, now?
You’ve found the breeder and often have been given the expected birth date. Sometimes your luck might be in and the pups are born and some are still for sale. Any puppy has to be 14 weeks or older before been allowed to a new family. Now is the time to set up the first meet.
So exciting. Don’t be pushed into a buy though, either by the seller or your own emotions. The meeting should take place in the home/barn/place where the puppies were born. Don’t meet anyone at a motorway services etc. The mother of the pups should also be there. Spend some time with her, she will give a good impression of what the pups will grow to be like. Don’t rush this meeting. The breeder should allow you plenty of time to see the pups and Mum and to ask as many questions as you want. They should also give evidence of registrations, vaccinations (1st dose) given, worming, HIP Scores, pedigree certificates and pedigree history etc.
If you are wanting a boy, these tend to sell first. Ask which are the boys and girls and observe the puppies closely. Which are confident? Which ones seem dominant in the litter? Which are shy? Which are big and which are small. With all these, ideally you are looking for one in the middle ground. The character in the litter may well be easy to spot. Follow your gut a little here. If you feel particularly endeared to one, then put in a reserve with the breeder. They may need a small amount of the payment as a deposit at this point. You can’t take the pup anyway by law, so arrange another visit. A week or two before the pick up date. Take a photograph of the intended pup as well. This can be useful so you recognise a particular marking etc next time you visit. knowing you are viewing the same dog.
It is unlikely that you will meet the father. Often breeding is done via a lone out. If you are buying a pedigree, the breeder should have photographs of the father dog. Plus HIP scores, and copies of the pedigree certificates. A history or family tree of the fathers line can sometimes be available.
Second meeting and Picking up
You have had some time. The home should be ready. Bedding sorted, toys and food waiting, chew hazards removed and the dog cage at the ready.
Dog cage??? These are small crates and are a great idea. I’ve always used one for new dogs as they act as a safe space for the puppy. It’s where you put their bed and allow them to take comfort in this area. It’s their space, so do not get into the cage with them. Apart from when travelling, I generally keep the door to the cage open, allowing the pup to come and go as it pleases.
The day has come to meet the potential pup for the second time. If the timing is right and the pup is of age, this may be the day you bring him/her back home. I advise to always go with a friend for the pick up. Pup will likely need some comforting on the way home while someone else does the driving! Bubbling with excitement. Enjoy this day.
Take this chance to scrutinise the potential puppy again. If happy then paperwork.
You should receive some of the following from the breeder;
- The health book, with 1st vaccination marked.
- A worming and de-fleeing certificate.
- If buying a pedigree, then the Pedigree certificate. This will have their Pedigree name and birth details
- HIP scores. These are markers for genetic health of hip joints. The lower the score, the better.
- Any other scores that may specific to the particular breed. Eye/hearing tests etc
- A Weight tally of the puppy from birth.
- Any microchip details. The breeder may not have done this but some will.
- Their contact details and any return policy they may use. Study this.
- Information about some of the next steps as owners you need to take. Insurance, registration at vets, booster vaccinations and timings.
- The breeder should be associated with organisations like the Kennel Club. If so you may be able to get 4 weeks free insurance and some valuable information.
- They may give you some blanket etc which smells of Mum. This can help smooth and comfort what can only be a slightly disturbing transition for the pup.
- Some food that the pup is presently eating. This allows you to gradually switch what they eat.
- Any payment receipts. You will also sign that you have adopted the pup.
You’re on your way home with the new addition. There will be some wining and pyning. Plenty of reassurance and calmness needed. I have brought the cage for this first transit but inevitably pup is on the lap for this first journey home.
I’ll write a future blog about introducing a new pup to the home. In the immediate days there are a few things that you will need to do.
The final steps
- Register him/her with your local vets. They may ask to see the pup for an initial health check and any micro chip or registration that needs to be done.
- Arrange any insurance. This is not a requirement at the moment but may become so. Insurance is expensive, or at least can rapidly become so. Make sure to study any policy in detail. If you don’t want to go down the insurance road, set up an account and make monthly payments to this. As a cover for any future vet bills etc.
- Join a puppy training club. This is the best way to introduce your dog to humans and other dogs. Socialise them as early as you can, once they’ve had the initial vaccinations.
Have a lot of fun and enjoy every minute of your dog. There will be challenges ahead. But with calmness, perseverance and the help that is out there, you will prevail. Be the boss with plenty of rewarding of good behaviour. Good luck
Some additional helpful sites.
- Kennel Club Uk
- British Veterinary Association
- Brooklynthedog (Instagram, loads of training packs available)
- DogFather Graeme Hall (Instagram – dog training)
Feel free to visit our shop MyTopDog for those dog essentials you need
DOG TREAT CHEW BALL – Stuff with treats and this ball makes for hours of fun for your dog. Not only does this toy relieve boredom, the flexible rubber, textured grooves and gentle spikes act together to clean their teeth and massage the gums. Over time, this improves your dog’s general oral health.
FUN & REWARDING – These puzzles help aid mental development and positively reduce anxiety in dogs by encouraging their foraging instinct. Not an IQ test for your dog, just a lot of fun.
STYLE WITH COMFORT – Look smart for any new season. We love this traditional styled collar. With breathable comfort padding and durable material bringing the trad into the present day.