Everybody loves a puppy. What we tend to forget is they are a 15+ year commitment that requires time, energy and money. Knowing that, choosing the right puppy for you and your family is critical. At Bark Busters Home Dog Training Miami, I have been fortunate to successfully train hundreds of puppies over the years. They are balls of energy with a short attention span. Before you think about getting a puppy, there many questions you probably have. Choosing the wrong puppy who has the wrong temperament or personality can cause you endless grief and headaches!
What age is the best to adopt?
As excited as you are to get your puppy home, wait until it is between 8 – 12 weeks of age. It really needs to bond with its mother and littermates. Its Mom will teach it many valuable lessons, including who is leader of the pack and how to socialize with other dogs. Even though a puppy is usually weaned at five weeks, it is still better to let it stay with its mother for a few extra weeks to hone its natural canine skills.
Where can I find a puppy?
Many places have good puppies. If you’re a pure bred type of person, a reputable breeder might be your first stop, but know that the puppy will come with a higher price tag. A breeder will screen for temperament and pre-existing health conditions. If you are thinking about a pet store, make sure the puppies don’t come from puppy farms. And if a shelter is on your list (which I hope it is), many have pure breds and cross breeds and have been vaccinated.
As a bonus, if you choose a puppy from a shelter, you will be saving a dog’s life. Additionally, know that shelter dogs are just as easy to train as pure breeds!
What breed should I choose?
This is one of the most important decisions you will be making. Think about your lifestyle – whether anyone is home during the day, your level of exercise, and whether you have children or not. Do a lot of research – the Internet is full of information about different breeds. Bark Busters even features a “Breed of the Month”.
How do I select a puppy from its litter?
Hmmm. they are all so adorable – how can you decide? The first thing is to observe a puppy in its natural environment with its fellow puppies. Focus on the differences in body language and see how they fit into the pecking order. One puppy might be headstrong and dominant while the less confident one may act more submissive. The pup that may be too timid to approach you or tries to run away may be too anxious for a family. This puppy may be better suited for a situation where there is only one or two in the family.
The pups that barks at you, backs away from you, or crouches down when you try and pet it is probably fearful. This may lead to inappropriate barking in the future, especially if you live in a condo or apartment.
What type of temperament t do you want? If you are outgoing and confident, you may want these qualities in your dog. Conversely, if you are soft spoken, don’t choose the most dominant puppy.
What is your lifestyle and age?
As a dog trainer, I have seen too many instances where the dog and its owners are incompatible due to age or lifestyle. Thinks makes it difficult for the pet parent in the long run. For instance, if you are a senior citizen, consider the time and energy commitment required with a puppy. If you are frail or have small children, consider how a Rottweiler or Mastiff could pull you around. If you live in an apartment, don’t consider a breed that needs a lot of room to run around.
Should I get one puppy or two?
This is a question I am often asked. The answer is: “Only get two puppies if you genuinely want two dogs”. Otherwise, you will have double the work and two puppies won’t be any more content than one.
Two puppies from the same litter can be a problem. They may have serious fights to establish dominance. This is not as bad if one puppy is male and the other one is female, because the male will usually defer to the female. Two puppies of the same sex can cause issues as well. If you are choosing puppies from the same litter, consider a male and female.
Next month we’ll talk about how to puppy proof your home before you get to training. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have any dog or puppy questions, call Luis Escobar at Bark Busters Miami. I’d love to hear from you!