Choosing a Dog
Before taking on a new dog, there are many things to consider to ensure that you can offer everything needed for a successful relationship.
- How many hours per day will the dog be left alone?
- Are you prepared to walk the dog for at least 1 hour a day, in all weathers/early in the morning? Regardless of the conditions outside, dogs need daily exercise.
- What size/type of dog are you physically capable of controlling? If the dog were to be out of control would you be able to get it back under control?
- What will you do with the dog when you go on holiday?
- Is everyone in the household prepared to take on the responsibility and share the work involved?
- Have you considered the cost of insurance, boarding kennels, veterinary care, vaccinations, food etc?
- What would you do if the dog developed behavioural problems? Consider the time and cost of professional help.
- Is your household a suitable one for a dog? Do you have an enclosed garden, is your house busy and noisy, or quiet etc?
Choice of Breed
There are many breeds of dog and each one has different behavioural traits and may therefore, be suited to different circumstances. You should be prepared to change your lifestyle to accommodate the needs of a dog, and not expect the dog to fit in with your current routine. Regardless of size or breed, all dogs require adequate exercise and basic training otherwise they are likely to develop behavioural problems.
- Working breeds (Border Collies, Springer Spaniels, Terriers etc) are very demanding and require a huge amount of physical and mental exercise. If you are planning to get one of the working breeds, make sure that you are able to give the dog around 2hrs exercise per day. As well as walking, they benefit from mental stimulation such as training as they are generally very intelligent and will find something to entertain themselves if you don't!
- Toy breeds (Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus etc) are often chosen due to their small size. Small breeds can be a great choice if you are limited for space, but access to a garden is not enough to exercise the dog and they often need as much walking as larger breeds. The important thing to remember is that, although they are small, they are still dogs and needed to be treated as such.
- Hunting breeds (Greyhounds, Lurchers, Terriers etc). All dogs will have a chasing/hunting instinct, but it is very strong in some breeds and this has to be considered when taken one on as a pet. A reliable recall is a must to ensure that your dog can exercise safely off lead. In dogs which have a strong desire to chase, this can be more difficult to achieve and more time and different techniques may be needed to train the dog. You will also have to be aware of this behaviour if you already have other pets, such as cats, in the household.
Although breeds have certain tendencies, all dogs are individuals and if you are unsure of any behaviour your dog displays you should seek professional advice.
Buying a puppy from a breeder
If you buy a puppy from a breeder, ensure they are reputable. Always visit their premises to view the puppies and never arrange to meet elsewhere. It is important to see both parents of your new puppy. Not only will you get an idea of the size it will eventually grow to, you can make sure that the parents are healthy and have a good temperament. You can also check the Kennel Club's Accredited Breeder Scheme. Make sure that the puppies have been well socialised at an early age. A good breeder will have introduced the puppies to things it will encounter in a new home such as vacuum cleaners, other animals, children etc.
When you take your puppy home he will need lots of rest, but do not leave him unattended for long periods of time.
- Give your puppy a name and call them by it regularly, give rewards when they respond to their name.
- Place your puppy's bed away from draughts and encourage it to use it whenever resting.
- Seek advise from pet shop or vet on feeding arrangements. Puppies need fed more often than adult dogs.
- Begin house training. Each time your puppy wakes up, after meals, and at bed time, take your puppy to a quiet corner of the garden. Wait with them. and praise them when they are finished. It is best to place newspapers indoors by the door at the beginning in the case of accidents.
- You must groom your dog regularly. Start this at a young age so the dog becomes used to it.
- Your puppy should be taken to the vet for inoculations and speak with your vet regarding worming and flea control.
- Your puppy must be microchipped and have your up to date details stored with the relevant database.
- Your dog will require daily exercise. Be prepared to clean up after your dog while out walks.
- Your dog must wear a collar and tag when in public.
- Provide your puppy with toys to play with.
Rehoming a rescue dog
There are many dogs in rescue centres looking for new homes all over the country. Before you buy a puppy from a breeder, consider whether it would be more suitable to get one from a shelter. Rescue dogs come in all shapes, sizes and ages and sometimes it is easier to take on a dog which has already come from a home, and is suited to your household than a young puppy. Rescue organisations can also assist in pairing a dog that they think is suitable for your circumstances and are on hand to help with any problems that might arise. If you want to know more about re homing a rescue dog, or if you are looking to re home your dog, you can contact the rescue organisations below: