Britain is a nation of pet owners and dog lovers. It was estimated last year that there were 9 million dogs in the UK and that 44% of all households own a pet. Many dog owners suggest that summer is the ideal time for getting a puppy with the longer and warmer days making it easier to exercise and housebreak your puppy. It is also a time when many families are on off from work or school so people can be at home to look after the dog.
Families often decide to purchase a dog without giving the big decision the proper thought and consideration it needs. Research from The Dogs Trust estimated that 130,000 dogs come into UK rehoming charities each year.
Dr. Steph Wenban, Paws.com’s vet and pet wellbeing specialist, offers the following advice for people looking to get a puppy:
1. Does a puppy suit your life? Similar to a baby, a puppy can be hard work! Training will take time and patience, as well as building up to leaving your puppy alone. Are you able to take some leave from work to put in the initial time to help your puppy settle? Once settled, are you able to take your dog with you to work or arrange company in the day? It is recommended that adult dogs are left alone for a maximum of 3-4 hours.
2. Can you afford a puppy? The estimated monthly cost of owning a dog is around £95 for smaller breeds and £154 for larger breeds – which equates to around £21,000 over your dog’s lifetime. Expect this amount to be higher if using services such as day care, kennels or grooming. It is also a good idea to plan in case your dog has an accident or becomes unwell – if deciding on insurance, is the level of cover enough for your needs? Or could you afford to pay for the treatment if required?
3. Choose a breed which suits your lifestyle. Be sure to research the needs of difference breeds, if they are prone to any health conditions and if there are any tests for these conditions. This will help you make the most appropriate choice of both breed and puppy.
4. Research puppies available. Do you want to get your puppy from a rescue centre or a breeder? Are there any health concerns or testing from the parents? Now is a good time to start looking around as there may need to join a waiting list
5. Dig deeper about the puppies
. Once you have selected a litter, be sure to ask lots of questions! For example,
• Are there any health concerns with the puppies?
• Have they been vet checked?
• Have the puppies had any flea or worming treatments?
• Are they well socialised? Any responsible breeder should be happy to answer all of these.
6. Arrange to visit . Call ahead and arrange a time to visit your puppy. Look at the environment, is it clean? Are the puppies socialised and playful? Pay attention to the health and smell of the puppies, look for signs of vomiting or diarrhoea. If the puppies are younger this should ideally be the first visit of a few. If the puppy is older and at an age ready to leave – consider leaving your wallet at home to avoid an impulse purchase!
7. Meet the Mother and Father. Always see the puppies together interacting and suckling with their mother – some puppy farms will go lengths to even stage a ‘fake mum’. The mother should be paying an active interest in the puppies, look bright, healthy and have swollen teats full of milk. Pay attention to the personalities of the parents and ask about any health concerns. If you are unable to meet the father, you should be able to contact the owners by phone.
8. Health records . Legally, all puppies should be microchipped by 8 weeks of age (unless you are given medical history with an exemption from a vet) – so check you have the paperwork to change this into your new details. Ask for records of your puppy having had a vet check as well as any flea / worming treatments and depending on their age, a vaccination card.
9. What is the puppy coming home with? Ideally pups should go home with some food to avoid sudden changes in diet, a scented blanket or piece of clothing can help them find comfort in the first few nights. Some breeders will also provide 4 weeks free insurance.
10. The future. Most breeders will hold your puppy to accommodate holidays or prior commitments, but it is a good idea to check what happens if your circumstances change. Some responsible breeders provide a contract to guarantee you can return the puppy to them if you are ever in need to rehome.