Blue Cross rehomes unwanted and abandoned pets, including dogs and puppies, every year, so we would always encourage anyone looking to add a dog of any age to their family to visit a rehoming centre first.
But we know many people to buy a puppy for many different reasons, so we’ve put together a top guide to help you avoid common puppy pitfalls and make the best decision for your family.
Where do I start?
Is a puppy right for me, right now?
Puppies are infant mammals, and as such they need a lot of care and attention. This may sound obvious, but some people underestimate just how needy puppies are. They are also pretty much a blank canvas, which means they are totally reliant on their owners for guidance on how to live in human society. Before you commit, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you around for most of the day? Or if not, can you easily make arrangements for someone trustworthy to be there when you are not? If you work in a job where you will be away from the house 9.00am to 5.00pm without being able to take your pet with you or find someone who can spend time with the puppy during the day, we would really recommend reconsidering whether this is the best time for you to get one. Dogs are social animals and don’t like being alone.
- Can you afford it? The average pup will set you back anywhere between £400 and £1,400 upfront. Dogs need to eat, they will need to visit a vet if they become sick or injured and for annual check-ups and vaccinations – we highly recommend getting pet insurance for your dog, they’ll need to be cared for if you go away and they can’t join you, they need toys to keep them mentally stimulated, a collar and tag. The costs of dog ownership add up, so do your sums.
- Do you like a challenge? There aren’t many things cuter than a puppy, which is a good job as it does help the frustration quickly subside when they’ve gone to the loo on your carpet… Puppies are brand new to the world and they don’t know right from wrong. You’ll need to teach them every single thing you want them to know. They need positive encouragement and patience to help them learn how to be a good member of the household. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding!
- Will you be a responsible dog owner? There are laws governing dog ownership, and there are also things you can do to help make sure your pet is a good member of the community. You’ll need to train your puppy to behave around people and other animals, pick up after them, and make sure they are never out of control or allowed to harm anyone.
- Is everyone in your family keen? If one person has serious doubts, please talk about this with each other first before diving in to puppy ownership. Owning a puppy is hard work and they learn faster if everyone has the same house rules and uses the same words and actions for training, so everyone needs to be committed. If you can’t resolve the issue, right now probably isn’t the best time.
- What breed or crossbreed is best for you? Dogs were developed to have different jobs, so some suit some lifestyles better than others. If you’d like a cuddle monster who isn’t bothered about long walks, consider a greyhound. If you’re an outdoorsy type who loves hiking and is interested in agility or other brain games, try a collie or spaniel type. Avoid active, intelligent, working breeds like huskies if you’d prefer a quick trip round the block twice a day – they will get bored, which can lead to problems.
- Would an older dog suit you better? Puppies aren’t for everyone, and there are so many benefits to getting an adult dog from a charity like Blue Cross. We give each dog a behavioural and veterinary assessment, so we can find you a great personality match for your family. Many older dogs don’t need housetraining and many already have good manners around people. We also give free behavioural support for the dog’s whole life. Plus, you’ll be giving a much-needed home to an unwanted pet.
If you are ready, congratulations! Having a dog as part of the family is one of the most rewarding, amusing and joyful things you can do (even if it is hard work!).
The best thing you can do for your new puppy and your family is to make sure you give your new pet the best start in life, and that begins with choosing a trustworthy and caring breeder who has the pup’s interests at heart.