Are you thinking about getting a puppy? If you have children that love the idea of a cute and fluffy puppy, or simply want a dog that is going to bond and have a long life with you, then getting a puppy can seem ideal. However, puppies are far more demanding than adult dogs at the start. They need your attention and help throughout the day (and some of the night) so planning a time when you can focus on your puppy’s needs (like school holidays or times when you may be working from home) is ideal. If you haven’t the time to spare then considering an older dog who will already be house trained and less likely to behave destructively may be an easier fit for your household.
Choosing the right puppy is important as your puppy needs to match your lifestyle and activity plans – the Kennel Club breed selector is a good tool to help recommend approriate breeds: (www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/findabreed).
Then look at specific breeds to identify which will match your lifestyle. For example, some breeds will love being taken on daily long walks, whilst others prefer social activities and some may need to be tired out with short bursts of very high energy. In fact for most dogs, simply being let out in the garden won’t be enough, they need to be taken out to be stimulated by the environment outside as well as exercised. For young families there are some breeds which are safer than others and more tolerant with children (for example Labradors or Boxers), but it’s worth remembering that no dog should ever be left unsupervised with young children even if a family pet.
Be aware of breed characteristics and inherited diseases when looking for your puppy. For instance, terriers are renowned lawn diggers and harder to train than spaniels which are very trainable but can have extreme energy drives and need high levels of activity every day. Most breed-specific inheritable diseases like mitral valve disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels or kidney problems in Dalmatians are being bred out but it is worth researching the risks and talking to breed clubs about these before buying your puppy.
Finding a good breeder is also important to ensure your puppy has been bred well and therefore is less likely to have any preventable heritable conditions and is typical of the breed in temperament and looks. Start your search with the Kennel Club registration list and breed clubs to find a breeder near to you. Finding a breeder early will also ensure you have a good choice of the litter and can choose the puppy that you like the look of. It can be hard to pick one out of a litter, but good natured, friendly puppies who are naturally curious and explorative are ideal.
Rescue centres also rehome puppies, so if you are less particular about breed they will often have puppies that will need a good home as well. However you will need to be prepared to take a puppy on at shorter notice so getting your home ready and schedule worked out beforehand will be important.