Where Do I Find A Puppy? (Already have a puppy? Scroll Down!)
They are all so cute, it is hard to know where to look. My first rule is stay out of pet shops and do not buy on-line! These places are stocked by "puppy mills". These are breeding factories where dogs and puppies are kept in deplorable conditions, sold to the first person with money, and no consideration is given the health or quality of the dogs being created or to the care or suitability for that puppy in its' new home. The dog has to be healthy enough to arrive at it's destination, that is it! The puppies prices are marked down until they sell, and when they get "too old" to sell as cute little puppies, the story does not often have a happy ending.
Quality breeders rarely advertise. They do not have to because people are referred to them by happy owners, veterinarians and other professionals. Fancy on-line ads or newspaper ads are a red flag to me. Yet the price will often be the same for the puppies regardless of the effort the breeder has put into raising them!
When you look for a puppy you want to meet the parents of the puppies, at least the mother. You want to see where the puppies are housed. You want to put your hands on the puppies and play with them. You want to be able to see the paperwork from the veterinarian that gives the parents and the puppies their health clearances.
A quality breeder should be competing their dog in something, be it obedience, confirmation, agility, anything that shows that the breeder is out there promoting her dogs and trying to be better. Ask the breeder why they breed dogs. The answer should involve love of the breed and bettering the breed. Money should never be part of the answer. Quality breeders rarely make any significant money if they are doing it right.
The parents should have had the appropriate health tests done for the genetic issues of the breed. Every breed has some pre-disposed health issue. For example, Labs are prone to bad hips and elbows, I would want to see OFA results (nationally certified hip and elbow x-rays) on the parents. Every single breed has some genetic disease that is common for their breed. Any breeder who tells you otherwise does not care about you or your puppy's long term well-being. Do your research and know what your preferred breed is prone to.
Speaking of research, please make sure that you know what the adult version of your breed is like. ALL puppies are adorable, but this does not mean that all breeds have the same disposition, energy level, exercise requirements or grooming requirements as adults. A full grown Saint Bernard puppy produces a significant amount of hair, drool and poop but does not have a lot of energy or require a lot of exercise. A full grown Jack Russell Terrier does not produce much of those but has more energy than most people can endure. It is critical that you know what you will end up with for the health, happiness and sanity of you and your dog for the next fifteen years. My favorite way to do this is to call a breed rescue of your considered breed and ask them what the most common reasons are for people surrendering adults to them. The information can be very eye opening and let you know early on what to expect and train for.
Rescue groups can have wonderful puppies, too. You will not get to meet the parents, but you will save a life. Most puppies who come from a rescue will come with various medical needs already taken care of. You will most likely need to sign a contract and be interviewed. It can feel like a lot, but please remember that the folks running the rescue see sad stories every day and are trying to prevent their puppies from being another one!
Costs of Having a Puppy:
The costs may not be obvious to a new owner at first, but they quickly become apparent. Not realizing how expensive good puppy care can be is no excuse for not providing basic care. In the first 6 months of ownership you can expect to spend well over TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. This may or may NOT include purchase price! Proper veterinary care is a must, it is not optional!
Purchase/adoption cost: Varies absolutely anywhere from Free to $2,000
Vet visits (at least 3 for vaccines and supplies): $100-$200 EACH visit MINIMUM
Spay/neuter (varies on size of dog): $200-$600
Toys: Your limit!
Obedience classes: $175 per session
High Quality Food (varies greatly by quality and size of dog): ~$40-$80 per month
Unexpected boarding in a kennel: ~$25 per day
Unexpected veterinary emergencies (puppies eat stupid things!): Any amount is possible
Please be prepared. Also, consider hiring a professional to help you pick out your puppy. This may help save you hundreds of dollars and lots of heartache in the long run.
From the age of 8 to 16 weeks a puppy is like a little sponge. It is the age where natural inquisitiveness is at its peak. After the age of 16 weeks most puppies enter a fear period. This is the age where a mother dog would stop keeping a constant eye on her puppies. The puppies are no longer safe to bound up to every object with the knowledge that they have mom as a back up!
As the puppy parents it is our job to expose the puppy to the world during this time. Puppies who do not get exposed to things during this crucial time have a higher chance of having fearful or aggressive reactions to new experiences later in life.
For instance, if a puppy has many good experiences with children early in life and then meets a scary child later on, the puppy is more likely to think that is just a weird child. If the puppy meets no children and then meets a scary child, they are more likely to think that all children are scary.
The more things a puppy encounters and finds to be non-scary as a pup, the more stable they will be as an adult dog being faced with a new or strange situation. That socialization history will pay off in the long run. I can not over-emphasize the importance of early socialization enough!
Any person, place or situation you would like your adult dog to be comfortable with, try to expose them as often as possible as a puppy. Make those exposures fun and safe.
Nipping/Mouthing And Jumping Help:
First things first, nipping, mouthing and jumping are perfectly normal puppy behaviors! They are exacerbated by excitement. A puppy may sit beautifully until someone plays (or speaks!) with them. It is a game and designed to engage in more play.
When I encounter a puppy who engages in mouthing or jumping, the puppy "disappears". I pay zero attention to the puppy. This is done by learning to "Be a Tree" for a leaping or nipping puppy. Cross your arms over your chest, bring your eyes to the sky, and stand perfectly still and quiet. Once the puppy stops biting or jumping you can pay quiet attention to the puppy, or give a treat.
If the puppy is very persistent about jumping, you can remove yourself from the area until the puppy calms down. I also make it a habit to pop a desired toy in the mouth before touching them. If the puppy spits the toy out, stop patting and pop the toy back in. Repeat as needed!
For a persistent puppy, I would not encourage you to engage in rowdy play with your puppy until calming skills are well underway. There are many exercises that we employ to help with this frustrating behavior.
Potty Training Help:
rate your puppy or tether them to you EVERY TIME you can not keep your eyes glued to your puppy! This means you can not be doing the dishes or paying bills while your puppy romps.
Take your puppy to the same location through the same door every trip outside. We want them to form a habit. Dogs thrive on routine.
Take them on leash so you can be right there to reward the moment they are correct! Even if you have a lovely fenced yard, use a leash for now. Your dog will have plenty of years to enjoy that yard.
Stand in one spot for 3 minutes and do not speak to your puppy. If your puppy does not go to the bathroom they are to come inside and go to their crate for 20 minutes, then repeat until the puppy goes.
Make sure to bring extra special treats outside and give the puppy the treat as soon as they finish going to the bathroom. Many people make the mistake of treating after they come inside, this only rewards the puppy for coming inside!
Do not waste your time punishing your puppy if he makes a mistake. Punish yourself for not watching your puppy! Seriously, punishing the puppy will only scare him and make him afraid to go to the bathroom in front of you. Not good in below zero temperatures in the middle of the night!
Clean any accidents as soon as possible with an enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature's Miracle. Do NOT use any ammonia based products, as the scent may continue to attract your puppy to the area.
on't be afraid to take your puppy outside overnight. If he wakes up, he has to go! I could not fall back asleep if I did not get to go, why would my puppy? They will eventually sleep through the night.
If the puppy wakes up all of the time several times overnight, take away the water bowl around 7 p.m.!
If the puppy has constant accidents, despite following the above advice, talk to your vet! We do not want to blame the puppy for a medical issue!
Must Haves for New Puppy Parents
Suitable sized crate
Appropriate chew toys, like Kongs, Squirrel Dudes and Galileo Bones (below, Etta will happily play with her peanut butter filled Kong until it is completely licked clean!)
Dog walker for mid-day if you work outside the home
A good veterinarian
Time, patience, and an interest in having this animal for its entire life!
4 or 6 foot leash of a comfortable material, I do NOT advise retractable leashes due to the constant drag on the line and the safety issues that come along with these leashes. I also do not suggest nylon or chain leashes due to the risk of hand injury.
Flat collar or martingale collar
Gentle Leader or Easy Walk Harness
Dog bowl and high quality diet (I advise to stay away from "grocery store" brands and also anything with corn as a main ingredient)
All Puppies Are Adorable, But Should You Breed Your Dog?
Did you get your dog from a breeder?
Do you have registration papers for your dog?
Do you compete your dog?
Does your dog do well at competitions?
Does your dog have any titles?
Have you have the standard genetic veterinary tests performed on your dog?
If you were to breed your dog, would you be willing to take back any dogs who did not work out in their future homes at any time?
If you had a litter of puppies, would you be financially capable of providing medical for the puppies?
Are you aware of the expenses involved in breeding a litter?
If you could not sell the puppies, would you be willing to keep them?
Are you aware that there are potential complications with pregnancy which could be fatal to your dog?
Would you be able to care for a litter if the mother died (ie. feeding the pups every 2 hours and then stimulating them to urinate and defecate, even
Do you realise that most breeders who care for their litters properly do not make ANY money at all?
Did you know that un-spayed female dogs are at risk for a disease known as Pyometra? This is an infection in the uterus which often requires an immediate
emergency spay. Due to the high level of infection by the time the disease is found, these dogs are at a much higher risk for anesthesia complications.
Did you know that intact male dogs are willing to climb fences, dig under fences, go through windows, etc. to get to a female in heat?
Do you know how many unwanted dogs are euthanized every year because there are not enough homes for them all?
If you answered NO to ANY of these questions then you need to seriously reconsider breeding your dog. Talk to your vet, talk to an experienced breeder, talk to some rescue volunteers. Get all of the information!