If you are thinking about buying a dog or puppy the first thing to do is to realise the commitment you are going to have to make to look after it properly.
Once you've made the decision to become a pet owner, there are several possible places you can get a new puppy or an adult dog from:
- A neighbour, relative or friend - good idea as you probably know a lot about the background conditions and care of the animal. BUT see Guidelines below.
- A registered breeder - generally a good idea - if anyone knows how to breed and rear a puppy properly a registered breeder should. Still, see Guidelines below.
- An unregistered breeder - careful - do they really know what they are doing ? Are they just in it for the money. See Guidelines below.
- A pet shop (small private concern) - not a bad idea if the puppy has genuinely come from a good source and the pet shop is clean, well run and practices good basic hygiene - see Guidelines below.
- A pet store (large chain) - not a bad idea if the Pet Store is well run, clean, practices good hygiene and they can give assurances about the origin of the animal. See Guidelines below.
- An animal rescue/welfare society. Seems like a good idea because you can "save" a poor unwanted soul which might be "put down" if it isn't claimed. Seems like a good idea because you can give a poor unwanted animal a nice home and the tender loving care that it hasn't had before. BE CAREFUL. Although millions of dogs are re-housed from such facilities every year, and millions of owners are happy with their new companions ... the rescue societies can not often guarantee the origins of the animals, nor their health status, nor their behavioural traits. You can inherit a BIG problem by adopting a stray animal. See the Guidelines below.
- A stray you found on the street. No, never adopt a stray that you find on the street. You should report a stray dog to the local Police, Dog Warden or Animal Rescue/Welfare Association. Dogs are legal entities and a "stray" may have a conscientious owner who is desperate to get their pet back. If it is a genuine stray you may be able to adopt it after efforts to find the owner have failed. BUT see the Guidelines below.
Here are some guidelines to follow before you buy a puppy or an adult dog. As a general rule you should buy a puppy unless you are prepared to try to change existing behavioural traits that adult dogs usually have.
If you follow these guidelines you should reduce the chances of disappointment with your new companion.
a) Consider your situation first
- Do not buy a new dog unless you are sure that the one you get will suit your life style, that you can afford to look after it properly, and that you have the time to commit to it.
- Never buy on impulse - for example, when you see a miserable puppy in a shop window don't rush in and buy it.
b) The premises
It is important to be satisfied about the health standards of the establishment that you are buying the dog from:
- The most important single guideline is this: whenever possible buy from a source that has been recommended to you by an independent person - a friend, neighbour, or member of the family. Someone whose judgment you can trust.
- Satisfy yourself that the premises are clean and tidy. Are the animal's kennels, cages, or pens clean? Ask to inspect behind the scenes.
- Are the animals themselves clean?
- Is there fresh, clean water available?
- Are animals from different sources kept separately (advisable) or are they mixed together (not desirable as this increases the likelihood of exposure to disease)?
- If you have not been given a personal recommendation about the establishment - ask them to give you the names of three reference sites where you will get a positive endorsement.
- Satisfy yourself that the establishment is a registered facility and that it satisfies all local registration requirements.
c) The animal
Buying a sick animal is the worst possible start for you and for your new companion. There are plenty of healthy dogs looking for a new home. Think THREE times about the possible consequences before you commit to buying a pet that is ill. This is particularly true if you are going to introduce the animal into a household with young children. They will be heartbroken if you have to take the animal back because of illness or bad behaviour.
- Never buy a dog that looks ill, or severely underweight or overweight.
- Insist that the vendor has the dog checked and gets a clean bill of health from a veterinarian before you buy it.
- Whether buying a new puppy or an adult dog make sure:
a) It has been recently wormed.
b) It's current vaccination status is up to date.
c) It has been treated for fleas and other ectoparasites (eg ticks or lice).
d) Adult dogs should be properly house-trained and have no serious behavioural traits such as aggression or destructive behaviour.
The vendor should be able to provide certificates and other documentation to prove that everything has been done properly.
WHEN IN DOUBT - DO NOT BUY !