Do your homework! Its obvious from some of the questions on Thrifty Fun that new dog owners, while caring and loving of their pups, have no idea what is normal dog behaviour, how puppies react to being separated from their mothers/introduced to a new environment and how and when to start training.
All this information is available in books and on the net. So before you get your dog do some research. Know what to expect and how to deal with the little puddles and problems that arise with a new dog! This will prevent unprepared owners from deciding they cannot deal with the realities of dog ownership and leaving dogs ignored and locked in the yard, or the dogs ending up in an animal shelter.
Firstly look at what you have to offer the dog. There is no point in getting a large hound, bred to run, if you live in an inner city apartment and don't like walking. Likewise, the larger breed of guarding or fighting dog may turn out to be the sweetest, gentlest dog you know - but statistically it is more likely to attack visitors and new additions to your family. A dog attack can disfigure a child for life and most owners say their dog had never shown signs of aggression before it turned on a child. Cut the odds of this happening by choosing your breed carefully. If you don't need a guard dog why buy one?
Where will you get your dog? Look for reputable breeders who care about their dogs and are not breeding for show characteristics at the expense of the dogs natural conformation. If the breed of dog is prone to congenital abnormalities be aware of this and have it vet checked before purchase. If you are looking for a companion animal a friendly mut from the local animal shelter may be the ideal way to go.
Be prepared to spend money, even if the puppy is free. Besides food, your dog will need annual immunisations, and veterinary care is expensive, especially as the dog gets older. Unless you are buying a pure bred dog for breeding purposes have your dog neutered early - allowing a dog to have 'just one litter' is not necessary and allowing more unwanted puppies to be brought into the world to fill up more animal shelters/be put to sleep is just irresponsible.
By Jo Bodey
Choosing a Puppy
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