There are many things to consider as a potential dog owner. It is a great responsibility owning and training a dog to ensure that they become a well rounded member of society.
It is important to choose a dog that fits in with your lifestyle. Each breed has their own characteristics and needs which need to be taken into account. For example a Border Collie requires a lot more exercise than a Chihuahua.
Consider the following points:
- Can I make a lifelong commitment to owning a dog?
- Can I afford to look after a dog and cover any veterinary or insurance costs?
- Do I have the time to train a dog responsibly and exercise it every day?
- Am I at home enough to make sure a dog wouldn’t get lonely?
If you have answered ‘no’ to any of the above questions you should think carefully before owning a dog.
Where to get a puppy from?
If you are looking to purchase a puppy from a breeder you should always make sure you look for a responsible breeder who will allow you to see the mother and puppies in their home environment. Breeders should be able to give you all the information you require about the puppies and their parentage. You should ask for written details of vaccination, worming and flea treatments and also details of your puppy’s current feeding regime. Never buy a puppy from a puppy farm or from a place where little effort has been made to handle or socialise the puppies. Socialisation should be well under way by the time the puppies are ready to leave their mother.
Welfare organisations and rescue centres always have dogs and puppies needing loving homes and this can be a very rewarding experience. You should always expect a home visit if you do decide to rehome a ‘rescue’ dog as it is the priority of the organisations to ensure that the dogs are rehomed to caring and suitable homes.
Puppies should be available for new homes at 8 weeks of age as this allows their mother to have completed her training of her litter such as teaching bite inhibition and other canine communications.
Bringing your puppy home
Please remember that it is a very stressful time for your puppy when they leave their family and go to a new home. You must allow time for your puppy to adjust. It can be helpful to have a blanket or an item of clothing from their old home which the puppy can have with them as this will have comforting smells from their mum and litter mates.
It can also be helpful to ask your veterinary practice about dog appeasing pheromone products.
These are available in various forms ranging from diffusers to collars. The aim of the synthetic pheromone is to mimic the pheromones produced by their mum from the area around her mammary glands during lactation. This has a comforting effect on her puppies as they associate it with warmth, feeding and comfort. It increases the bond between mum and puppy and therefore increases the puppy’s confidence to enable them to start to explore their environment and feel at home.
Collecting your puppy and taking them home will be a challenging and unnerving experience for them and you do not want to create a negative or fearful effect which may cause behavioural problems.
It can help to plug in a diffuser a few days before your puppy arrives, ideally near where your puppy will sleep. This will help the pheromone to reach an effective level within the home.
The car journey to their new home can also be a frightening experience and this is often the first car journey they would have experienced. The pheromone spray, if sprayed on a blanket in the car 15 minutes before needed may help increase your puppy’s security and comfort. The spray can also be used in your puppy’s bed to help them feel comforted at night.
Collars are also available which release the pheromone product into the air when warmed by body heat. This can be useful to use when introducing your puppy to new experiences.