Monday, 9 March 2015

Questions to ask before getting a puppy

Posted by Rosie

There are plenty of articles on the internet about what questions you should ask a breeder/rescue centre if you are thinking about getting a puppy from them.  But what about questions prospective puppy owners should be asking themselves before getting their first canine pet?  These should always be the first steps you should go through and when you are happy with your answers you can start looking around for your puppy.  Once you have found the puppy you think you want then you can ask the breeders/rescue centre all the necessary questions about this puppy.   

Questions to ask yourself before getting a puppy


1.  Is everyone in your family ready for the responsibility of a dog?

Can you fit a dog into what could already be a busy lifestyle?  Puppies need a huge amount of care and can be likened to having a newborn baby in the house.  Even when this stage is over a dog will need a walk twice a day, every day, what-ever the weather.  Is everyone happy with this?  And what happens when you go on holiday or even out for the day?  What will you do with your dog then?  Are children ready to accept new rules regarding your puppy?


2.  Have you somewhere local for good dog walks?

Ideally you need a range of walks to keep your puppy stimulated and to keep you from getting bored heading round the same walk day after day.


One of our many dog walks

3.  Do you know what is involved in training a puppy?

Do you have both the knowledge and the time to train a puppy?  You could always go to puppy classes so it's a good idea to check if there are any locally.   Do you also know how to socialise your puppy with other dogs, other pets (especially cats) and children, if you have them?  Are your children able to accept that the puppy is not a toy? 

4.  What about when the puppy is ill?

Do you think you would recognise when your puppy is ill and are you sure you can afford the vet bills and/or insurance?  Did you know that some insurers refuse to cover dogs over a certain age or only with significant increases in the premiums  and many policies have a limit on how much they will pay out?  Improvements in veterinary care have been huge recently but treatment can be very expensive.  And when the time comes will you be able to make that final decision?  Oh and remember, your insurance won't pay for castration/spaying.

5.  Do you know what and how much to feed?

Many dogs now suffer with being overweight and have bad teeth due to being fed the wrong diet.  It might also be worth sitting down and calculating how much it will cost to feed a dog ... you may be surprised how much it is per year.


NOT the ideal way to feed your dog!


6.  Are you immensely proud of your magazine-perfect house/garden?

Because, quite simply, a puppy will not have the same view and will see both your house and garden as a great play place with all sorts of toys furniture/plants etc as well as quite possibly chew, dig and relocate things all over the place.


7.  Have you somewhere safe and quiet for the puppy to escape to for quiet time when it all gets too much for it?

Puppies and dogs need a bolt hole, somewhere that is totally their own where they can retreat when things all get too much for them.  This is especially important if you have young children in the house or other pets who must all respect the puppy's need for it's own space sometimes.


Dog corner at Eco-Gites of Lenault (when we had 4 visiting dogs to stay!)

8  Are you OK with poo and wee ... ?

... because you are gong to get up close and personal with a lot of this over the coming years. And puke!  Do you know how to house train a puppy and are you prepared to scoop poop for the rest of your dog's life?


9.  Are you able to make yourself into the Alpha Male?

And do you even know what this means?  Basically every single dog you see from a Great Dane to a Miniature Poodle is 99% wolf.  Wolves are pack animals and each has their place in the pack with everyone being answerable to the Alpha Male.  With your puppy YOU need to be that Alpha Male.

10.  Do you know what questions you should be asking the breeder/rescue centre?

Once you are happy with all the above points and you have found what you think is your ideal puppy,  there are plenty of questions you need to ask before buying.  Please do search "questions to ask a dog breeder before buying a puppy" for further information and do not buy without first being sure of what you are buying.  Do you know the different needs and of different breeds ie:- terriers WILL dig, collies WILL herd and require lots of metal stimulation, dachshunds aren't good at agility etc.  (Thanks JT for this last one).  Be wise and do not buy the first puppy you see just because it is so cute.


Consider volunteering or fostering a dog first

After answering these questions you may realise you have things you need to learn before getting a puppy.  How about volunteering at a local rescue centre to gain more experience?  You could also foster dogs and there are many dog fostering schemes you can work with.  In both cases you'll have plenty of support and can ask all the questions you need to. 

Finally, you need to accept that you will make mistakes with your puppy and it's life with you will be far from the perfect image portrayed by the media!  But if you are confident with what you are doing you will get over these setbacks and give your dog the fabulous home it deserves.  In return you will have a friend for life!




27 comments :

  1. I would tick the like button if you had one ! Would perhaps add research breeds and their needs ie:- terriers WILL dig, collies WILL herd and require lots of metal stimulation, dachshunds aren't good at agility etc... Laters JT xx

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    1. Of course and I have taken the liberty of adding this point to the post. Merci my friend. But I am sure Connie would have been very good at agility had she tried ;)

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  2. Very good article and sensible points to consider before getting a puppy, although I do have to say I don't agree with point 9 the Alpha Male as we use Positive Reinforcement Training with clickers and treats and not the old fashioned and out dated wolf pack Dominance Training where dogs are forced to behave and made to do things. I prefer to let the dog work out for its self it's rewarding to them to do the right thing.

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    1. What I am trying to say is that YOU must be the boss of your dog, not the other way round. I would never use repeated force or punishment to train a dog but I will always train it to do as I ask which will involve the use of treats and occasional chastisement when needed. Dogs must never be the boss and a new owner needs to know how to achieve this.

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    2. I apologise for the misunderstanding, but by using the words Alpha, Wolf and Pack all words not used in training nowadays, unless you're a certain TV personality promoting the use of dominance, electric collars, prong collars and kicking, it's an easy mistake to make as I don't know you personally . Again I apologise and as I said before, it's a very good post with sensible points raised before getting a puppy.

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    3. No need to apologise Dawn and I think we probably have a similar approach to training dogs. However I do think it is important that people do understand that ALL dogs are in fact 99% wolf and a number of dogs together (whether in the same house or meeting in the park for example) can very soon fall in to ancient ingrained pack tendencies but if you are "dominant" to your dog(s) then you are much better able to avert potential problems. Even alone a cute looking dog can be a killer. At the weekend I visited a friend to find her10 month old looking Jack Russell x Schitsu in the process of savaging one of her chickens that subsequently died in my arms. She did nothing to stop the dog nor in any way try to show that it had done wrong. She is not the boss of the dog and I fear other chickens could possibly suffer the same fate. Let's hope it is not a child next time.

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    4. I too have always used the term Alpha to simply mean 'leader' or 'parent' or 'boss' and then that idiot on TV goes and changes the terminology to mean 'bully' or id......erhem, other words I had best not use here.

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    5. Poor chicken, I'd fear for the rest too, fingers crossed she does some training soon, before it gets into a habit and gets out of hand or shell lose all her chickens :(

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  3. Great points. I've always had dogs, grown up with them as a child and now have my own. We have only ever had 3 pups in my life so far as we usually have strays that literally walk into our lives. Currently I have a collie cross and a terrier, love them, my best pals and I'll do a post about them for next week :)

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    1. I've had a puppy, a one year old who had spent all her puppyhood in kennels, a poorly trained 5 month old and a 2 year old with oodles of energy. All came with different issues and we worked out way through them ... although we are yet to crack letting Harry off the lead safely!

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  4. All very valid points to consider! So many times we hear of people getting a puppy as a gift or on a whim, treating it more like property and not a living being that needs love and attention similar to a human child. I think volunteering and fostering first is a great way to get a family acclimated to having a dog and seeing if it's right for them. It breaks my heart to hear of dogs being left in their cages 10 hours/day because the family is out at work. Most of us don't have tons of cash to hire a dog sitter or to drop the dog off at doggy daycare (upwards of $500/month in NYC), so considering one's lifestyle is really important. My dog, who I got as a puppy, has enriched my life in so many ways and I was wholly ready for her -- considered all your points and more in the 6 years leading up to me being ready for her. She's a dog that loves to be with people and luckily I'm a bit of a homebody so it works out well. ;-) Great post!

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    1. Thank you Diane. We have always been very lucky in that we either work from home or could take dog(s) to work with us. Dagny looks lovely and I hope I can get to meet her one day.

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  5. Great tips! I did giggle at the picture of your dog with it's head in a bag of food :-) x #animaltales

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    1. We use the bags to light the fire and it was a sort of ritual of Poppy's to check the bags were empty before they got burnt. Usually she was happy just to watch us tip out the dregs and eat what fell out but left to her own devises ....

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  6. Great tips! Having a dog is a huge responsibility. Most times I think I have more than one child! Btw, I've linked-in an old post. I wanted to introduce you guys to Mutt, our dog before Doc. Hope it's okay. #animaltales.

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    1. That's fine - I would love to have met Mutt. What a gorgeous dog.

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  7. So many important points. I don't have any pets because I know the cost and work involved in having them. I'll stick to feeding my garden birds and stroking all the neighbourhood cats for the time being!

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    1. Firkin says you can come and stroke him any time!

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  8. I was prepared for the poo and the wee but the puke? Not so much! My last dog was hardly sick but Stella almost made an Olympic sport of it! I think a lot of it was down to her being of a nervous disposition being a rescue whereas I brought the last one up from a puppy.

    Had to have a wry smile at the 'alpha' discussion having written in my own Woof Wednesday earlier that Caesar's way is not the way!

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    1. I think I may add something extra in the post above about Caeasr and his ways. I had never heard of him until now and I never meant to imply that punishment was the way to train a dog.

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  9. Ash the Dog says - What a Paw-some post!!!
    The Mother says - What a great and well-informed post. Getting a puppy is exactly like bringing a newborn baby into the home. We've had puppies and we've had rescue dogs and the preparation and before and during is immense. The rewards, though, are ten-fold. I would also add the question of always see mum with the puppy before you buy. Loved your photos too - you are so lucky with such gorgeous doggies :) #animaltales

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    1. Good point if you get to the point of deciding a puppy is right for you.

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  10. Great post Rosie! We're hoping to get a puppy in next year or two and I'll be training my kids how to take care of it! I still remember when my former gorgeous dog was a puppy (she lived to 17 1/2). One thing we made sure when we first brought her home was that she was never left alone in the house for the first few weeks. I was lucky as my Mum would pick her up and take care of her with her dogs when I was at work. When she became a bit older we gradually started leaving her for short periods of time alone but not when she was teeny.

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    1. That's a very good point, Kriss, to not leave puppies alone ... as is training your children to know how to care for and treat a puppy.

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  11. Great post Rosie. Taking the step of becoming a dog owner is a big one. As cute as puppies are, they are hard work and time consuming, but time spent training and teaching a puppy, is time well spent as that's the only way you'll get a nice dog for a pet.

    Veterinary bills can be expensive and when a dog is sick it is time consuming. One of our dogs has been on medication for Kalazar for eight years now and heart medicine for the past two years. She has to have medicine everyday morning and night without fail, which is a big responsibility.

    Showing dogs whose boss is important too or you can end up with a problematic and unbalanced dog.

    My lot think I'm bonkers as I weigh all the dogs dry food, but it's the only way to be able to monitor what they're eating...Which can also alert me when a dog is not feeling too good.

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    1. Poppy, our lovely Lab, who we lost on New Year's Eve racked up vet's bills over £1000 within a few months of coming to us as she needed expensive tests to work out why she kept wetting herself ... and then a lifetime on Propalin to stop her being incontinent. Luckily insurance paid for the tests and Propalin in the UK, but not in France. Saari came to us from a refuge and within 3 days was in the vets with life threatening Parvo Virus which she must have contracted in the refuge and was not protected having only had her first set of jabs. Luckily French vets are less expensive that UK ones but her treatment was still expensive.

      Yes, dogs can be very expensive.

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  12. My son is desperate for a dog. I'm really not. I keep pushing the date of getting it back (currently it's something like 'when he can do the looking after himself' so not for about another ten years) because to be honest I consider a dog to be a toddler that never grows up, which is sot of my idea of hell. Or at least my I idea of hell when you live in a city like us.

    I'm afraid I'm a cat person. Can you tell?

    Anyway, good questions. I shall keep using them every time the question comes up.

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