Dog Care
Your Go-To Guide to Picking a Puppy

Your Go-To Guide to Picking a Puppy

Picking a puppy can be an overwhelming task. With so many breeds, temperaments, and personalities to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start? This blog post will provide you with the key steps on how to pick your next best friend!

Your Go-To Guide to Picking a Puppy

Choosing the right canine for your household is very important. Will the dog get along with the kids? Will the dog get along with other animals in the household? Does the dog have a good disposition? These are some of the questions you might ask when deciding what kind of dog you want. 

Your Go-To Guide to Picking a Puppy

A puppy is not just a pet – it’s a lifetime commitment. It will be with you for about 15 years, so you want to make sure that the one you pick fits your lifestyle and goals. Picking out a perfect match can take time; but these tips should help guide you in making this big decision.

The most important thing in choosing a new pet is knowing exactly how much responsibility you’re ready to take on. There will always be challenges; it’s up to you whether they become hurdles or stepping stones for growth as an individual (and dog owner). Give yourself enough time to think about all aspects and get advice from friends who have recently gone through puppyhood.

What do you want?

Are you looking for a purebred or mixed breed or just a plain old mutt? Mixed breeds can be more affordable, whereas purebred can be quite expensive. Don’t dismiss the mutt option either from the local pound. Mutts can be just as lovable, energetic, and loyal as the other breeds.

If you are looking for a purebred pup, do your research.

Find out what kind of dogs come from that bloodline and if there are any health concerns or behavioral issues that might be associated with it.  

When you get a purebred dog, you have a guaranteed set of expectations. You have predictable Physical Traits. You will know what to look out for traditionally, and what perks you can expect. You can usually count on a purebred pet to have a certain set of Behavior and Temperament also.

That is why we went for an Australian Shepherd – the intelligence, size, and loyalty. Boy, did we ever score big!

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picking a puppy

Here are the benefits of choosing a shelter-shelter dog:

You might assume that if you buy your dog from a breeder or a pet store that the dog is healthier and will be a better pet than if you get it at a shelter. But that’s not true. When you get a puppy or adult dog from a store or through a private seller, you don’t have any idea about the condition of the dog at the time you buy it.

Many pet stores get their animals from breeders in conditions that aren’t healthy for the animal. Illnesses and diseases are often covered up in order to make the sale. You have to go on the word of a person who wants to sell the animal to make money.

Some of these health issues may not show up until you’ve bonded with the pet, or until it’s too late to get your money back. When money is placed at a greater importance than finding a loving home for the dog, you could be buying an animal that simply won’t integrate well into your life – or one that has a serious health problem.

Some people assume that when a dog is adopted from a shelter, it’s a walking advertisement for health issues. They fear getting a pet that’s sick, one that has some kind of expensive issue to deal with, or has behavioral problems.

But a shelter is not a revolving door operation. When a dog is first handed over to an animal shelter, it’s not immediately released for adoption. Instead, the dog has to remain there while a whole gamut of tests is run.

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It’s not put up for adoption until these tests are completed. Known medical issues are addressed first. Sometimes when dogs are handed over to the shelter, it’s clear they need medical attention.

They might be dealing with something like mange or, in the case of abandoned dogs found on the streets, the animal might have matted fur. It might also have fleas or skin conditions.

The shelter has trained staff including veterinarians who will check for heartworms, intestinal parasites, malnourishment, and skin disorders or issues. It also studies the dog’s behavior.

If a dog has any problems with its teeth, the shelter will make sure that the dog gets those problems addressed and healed. While the dog is at the shelter, he’ll be vaccinated.

Some shelters will also go ahead and microchip a pet. The dog will also get spayed or neutered while it’s at the shelter. Any major issues that can be corrected like suturing up wounds or setting broken bones are also fixed.

The cost of these fees is not all transferred to the person adopting the pet. If you had to pay for everything the shelter does yourself, it could easily cost over a thousand dollars.

The dog will also be groomed while he’s at the shelter. When you get a dog from a source such as a breeder or pet store, you may not get all the information that you need about the pet in order to be able to provide him with the best care.

Sometimes health conditions are deliberately hidden. But a shelter dog comes to you with his health history. You’ll know what the breed of dog is and whether or not it’s a purebred or a mixed breed.

The shelter won’t try and hide it if the dog does have any health problems that were noted in the animal’s chart when he was first checked in. You’ll be told of any issues that will be ongoing for the pet.

So you’ll know from the start what you’re getting into. Another perk about adopting a shelter dog is that many of them are already housebroken. So you won’t have to go through the stages of teaching your dog how to go to the bathroom outside. Even if the dog isn’t yet housetrained, you’ll know that ahead of time.

picking a puppy

Picking a Puppy: How Big?

If you need more help, think about the size of the dog you want. Puppies are either classified as small or medium-sized dogs. You may also have a preference for hair length and color. Consider your living environment carefully before choosing – some breeds thrive in apartments while others will require acreage to themselves!

Size matters. Think about how big or small the dog is that you want. Do you have room for the pup to run and play or will it be cooped up because you don’t go outside a lot? If so, do you have a room where the pup can run free?

Did you know I have an Etsy Store coming for Aussies and Service Dog fun things?

Choosing Between a Male and Female Dog

Some dog owners claim that males are typically more aggressive and destructive, particularly in small spaces. Female dogs are said to be easier to train and more affectionate.

Depending on the dog breed, these stereotypes may be true or not. Choosing a female dog means either taking the initiative to spay, or deal with the issue of the dog being in heat. Failure to take action for doggie birth control means that you’re constantly trying to find homes for cute litters of puppies.

Female dogs don’t have menopause, so unlike the human female, dogs can have puppies practically all their lives. You’ll spend weeks every year trying to guard your female from males who can catch the scent from blocks away. On the other hand, if you have a pure-bred dog that you want to breed, then having a female dog can become a financial advantage.

Male dogs insist on marking their territory, whether it’s around your house or in the yard. They do this by urinating on their “spot” so they can find it again.  You can try to train a dog not to mark his territory, but you’re asking him to go against his instincts.

If you have another male dog in the house, expect a battle for who rules the house, particularly if both want to be alpha dogs. Even a smaller male dog will challenge or irritate the larger male – just to prove who was in the house first.

Dogs of opposite genders tend to get along better than dogs of the same gender. While female dogs are not as vicious toward each other as male dogs, some females don’t want to share their space with another dog.

Female dogs are generally easier to house train than male dogs, although that can vary by breed and by the skill of the dog trainer. Male dogs are seen as more lively and active, but certain breeds are “high strung” in both males and females.

Ask the average person shopping for a dog and you’ll find many are looking for a female dog. They probably believe the notion that female dogs are less aggressive and easier to train.

However, they forget that female dogs can be highly temperamental. Breeders tend to favor male dogs as an easier pet to manage.  Gender isn’t the only predictor (or even a good predictor) of how a dog will behave.

Breeds that are known to be calm and tolerant, tend to be that way whether male or female. Other breeds that are feisty, nippy, and difficult to handle are that way for males and females. 

Since there’s no scientific evidence that predicts the characteristics of males compared with females, then the decision about dog gender is essentially subjective. Chances are your memories of a childhood pet or a friend’s pet that you wish you had are what’s influencing your choice now.

Maybe you recall the gentle female Collie who lovingly cared for litter after litter of puppies as the ideal dog. Or you think about the rough and tumble large male dog that could run hard, play tirelessly and keep up with the most inquisitive children. If that’s what leads you to decide whether a male or female is the best dog to have, then go with your feelings. For you, that will be the right choice.

picking a puppy

Check their personality

Personality for a puppy develops around seven weeks of age. Spend a little time picking and choosing your dog, and you both will reap the rewards. Make sure you can hold the puppy and cuddle him. Drop a book during a quiet moment and see if the pup runs and hides. Get on your hands and knees and play with the puppy to see if he responds in kind or is aggressive toward you.

A pup that is friendly will wiggle with delight when you pick him up. He may lick your face, nuzzle you in the neck and follow any commands given to him. Even a dog who isn’t interested can be lured out by throwing treats for them to chase after or little toys they can carry around. If he’s not very responsive try another breed – one that has more of an affinity toward people-pleasing behaviors as opposed to bossing everyone else around.

Picking a Puppy: Take your time

Selecting a puppy is an emotional decision, but it pays to keep these points in mind before you make your final decision. Once you’re armed with the right knowledge, you’ll be able to pick that perfect puppy that the whole family will enjoy and love. There are several places to start your search. Asking friends or your vet are good places to start. Also, you can contact your local shelter or ASPCA for their selection of animals. There is also a website that can help in your search – www.petfinder.com.

While you wait

We whipped up a fun dog printable pack for you to help get the kids excited about your new addition AND help kill the time that has to pass before you bring your fur baby home.

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