by Karin Landsberg
Picking a puppy is not as easy as one might think – there are all sorts of things that new owners will need to take into consideration before making the best choice. We’ve put together some guidelines to help with making the right decision.
It might seem like a silly thing to think about, but it’s a very important question from a practicality point of view. How much time do you have to spend grooming the dog? Is your house and garden suited to the size dog you’re considering? Does shedding bother you? Do you want a big or a small dog? When visiting the breeder, ask for proof of vaccinations and hip dysplasia scoring. As a prospective owner you have the right to insist on this information as it will impact on your dog’s life.
Exercise and stimulation:
People often make the mistake of thinking that smaller dogs are easier because they require less exercise! As anyone who’s ever owned a Jack Russell terrier will tell you, that is not true. If you’re a couch potato, getting an active dog will only result in disaster, so be honest about the level of daily exercise you are prepared to give the dog – and don’t get a dog of a specific energy level because you are intending to take up jogging – FIRST start jogging, THEN get the dog! Interestingly, studies have shown that dogs that live in flats are better behaved socially than dogs living on large properties – the reason for this is if your dog is a “flat dog”, you have to take it out to eliminate often so they get to see the outside world more often. Even though some breeds are known for their trainability, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that a highly trainable dog requires oodles of time to prevent boredom which can lead to behaviour problems.
Rule number one here is find out what your breed’s function is. If it has been bred to dig up moles, no amount of training is going to get that out of the dog! If you’re an avid gardener, you need to avoid breeds that has been selected for hunting rodents. That means it’s not a good idea to get a terrier or a dachshund unless you can live with the fact that there may be some alternative landscaping happening! Most of the retriever group (Labradors etc) and German Shepherds can be very mouthy (a problem with young children) and will need to be given toys to stop the mouthing. Border Collies will herd everything in sight, so be aware of this if you have children about! Bull Mastiffs and Boerboels can slobber alot and most people only find that out once the dog is an adult. Smaller dogs tend to bark a lot more than bigger dogs.
Time’s a big factor and must be taken into consideration when deciding on getting a pup. Puppies need to learn how to behave appropriately in a social situation, so puppy classes are a must. Invest in the next ten to fifteen years with your dog and attend a puppy class before your pup is 14 weeks old. Adult training happens from 5 months onward but GOOD socialization classes are a must. If you’re not sure about a good puppy class in your area, have a look at the ThinkingPets puppy schools list to find one close to you.http://www.thinkingpets.com/