Finding the Dog of Your Dreams: Adopting the Right New Dog or Puppy
I just got off the phone with a lovely gentleman in search of the perfect dog for his family. He is brand new to the world of dogs and was doing the right thing though by calling to ask about dog training for his new puppy-to-be. While we were talking about his new dog he mentioned that he would get the pup in a week to a month. Thinking this was a bit odd, I asked him to explain. He told me that his dog was being located by a "dog trainer" and she would find the right pup for them and have the dog shipped. "Uh oh" I thought, puppy broker"¦
A puppy broker is someone who "finds" puppies or a sort of puppy middle-man. They usually associate with large scale puppy breeders or puppy mills (who don't always have the best ethics or concern for producing the healthy happy puppies) and obtain a fee by finding buyers for these puppies. There are a few problems with this set-up. One is that the puppies are usually being shipped when it would be much better for the puppies health to be purchased locally instead of going through the excitement of a flight at such a young age. The second and perhaps more important is that these pups are being bought sight unseen. What was the mother dog like? How was the puppy cared for? Did the breeder or puppy broker screen the owner to make sure this puppy was a good match for their new home? What guarantees does the breeder give for the health and temperament?
The puppy broker sounded great to this gentleman who was thrilled to hear that this person who seemed to know so much about dogs would "pick out the right dog" just for them and would even train it for them. Since he wanted a very specific age, sex and color puppy of an uncommon breed that would be difficult to find locally, the broker sounded like a godsend. But of course buying a puppy is not like mail ordering a perfect pair of trousers and if you want a very specific high-quality puppy you are just going to have to put in the work to find a breeder and then probably wait a while!
Here is what I recommend to find the right dog for you and your family:
1. Evaluate what you are looking for in a dog. Perhaps find a professional positive dog trainer to help you with this important choice. Consider that a mix breed or adult dog may be a perfect pet for you. With mix breeds you get a one-of-a-kind dog that can be just as beautiful and smart as any pure-bred (and can even be healthier due to less in-breeding!). By adopting an adult dog you will get a clearer picture of the dog you will end up with. An adult is also usually easier to assimilate into your household as they are not as nippy as puppies or have as many housetraining accidents. Here are some links to get you started on your search for your new friend:
HSUS Article on Finding the Right Dog
CanisMajor.com Article on Choosing a Dog
2. If you decide on an adult or mixed breed, you can begin searching on www.petfinder.com and breed rescues. A good trainer can help you to do a temperament test of a dog you are considering.
3. If you decide on a pure bred puppy, begin researching breeders. If you find a breeder you are interested in, you should visit the breeder's home to view the pups and the mother dog and ensure that they are being kept clean, in good health and properly socialized. The mother dog and other adult dogs should be friendly. The breeder should question you carefully to make sure you would be a good match for one of her puppies and should be willing to take back the dog at any time.
Here's a few links to get you started on your research:
CBS News Article on Dog Breeders
How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder Article from Dog-Play.com
4. Once you have chosen a dog or puppy you will need to be prepared with some essential supplies. We have a recommended new puppy or dog supply list, here. We also strongly recommend that you find a good dog trainer. A trainer will be helpful to prepare you for the new dog and show you how to get started right away with housetraining and obedience training. If you can afford an in-home session with a trainer this can be invaluable, but it is also important to get your new dog or puppy (especially in the case of puppies) to a group class.
5. If you adopted a puppy you will now need to concentrate on socialization. Socialization will make a huge impact on how comfortable your dog is in his surroundings when he or she is an adult. We all want a dog we can take anywhere and good socialization is the best way to make this happen. Click here for an article on socializing your puppy.
Good luck on your search. You will be happy you took your time and made a careful decision both for you and your families sake as well as your new best friend.
Please let us know how you do!