When picking a puppy, it is important to know why you want a puppy.  Are you lonely?  Do the kids keep asking for a puppy of their own?  Did your career schedule change to accommodate a puppy’s needs? Does agility, barn hunts, breeding or showing a dog interest you? Do you have an older dog and want a younger dog to help lift their spirits?  There are many reasons why people get a puppy. Make sure you know why you want a puppy.  It is a lot of hard work and a lifetime commitment.

There are other questions you will have to ask yourself: Do you want a dog to be groomed and non shedding or do you not mind the hair?  Is the breed of your choice suit living in the city or country setting?  If you do not want to groom your dog do not get an Afghan! What is your lifestyle like?  If you are someone who loves the outdoors, and hikes and bikes a lot, then an English Bulldog is not for you.  However an active breed may be more desirable like a golden retriever, boxer, rat terrier or doberman.  If you are a lower energy person then a Bull Mastiff, Yorkie, Maltese, or a Bulldog would be better suited.  Do you know how big of a dog you want? Or do you prefer a small dog?  Understand the breed of the dog you chose so you also know how big it will grow up to be.

If you are looking at getting a puppy from a breeder, you will want to make sure the breeder does all the required health testing, be aware of structure and know what each puppy’s energy levels are like.  They should be helpful when matching the best suitable puppy to the individual personality of the person interested. ie. how are they when tested around loud noises?  Can the puppy be help firmly without struggling? How is the puppy’s confidence?  Does the puppy play or hide? Do they cuddle or growl? How do they behave around feeding time?  These are just a few things to be aware of. As your puppy develops so will their personality. You can look up breeders on the Canadian Kennel Club website, get information from Canadian Dog magazines listing breeders or word of mouth.  Individuals selling dogs or puppies on Kijji are not breeders.  They likely are backyard breeders, similar to puppy mills, and it is recommended to stay clear.  Many of those puppies will not be health tested and the breeders have likely not followed a specialty breeding program or profile.  Make sure you see both parent dogs if possible.  No puppy should ever be taken away from the mother before 8 weeks of age. If a breeder won’t temperament test a puppy, stay clear of them!

If you are looking at rescuing a dog from a shelter or rescue organization there are things you want to consider as well.  There are many great dogs that end up homeless for one reason or another.  Again make sure the mix or breed is suitable for your lifestyle and energy level.  Know and understand that love is not enough and most of the dogs will have some behaviour issues.  Seek professional help when required to avoid the behaviour from escalating into something more serious. Some things to consider: does the dog let you touch them?  Can you take food away from them or a toy?  Can the dog do basic commands? Know your limit as to what you can handle and do not take on more than that.  Aggressive dogs should be seen by a professional trainer. Do not feel sorry for the dog.  Buying a dog based on emotions is a very bad idea and often leaves dogs to end up going back to the shelter when people realize their mistake. Pick a rescue dog for the right reasons and they will love you forever.

What you want to remember is to be as prepared as possible.  The moment when you see cute puppies for sale at the neighbourhood grocery store bulletin board is not the time.  A dog should never have to be re-homed and should never be bought on a whim.  Get your puppy training started right from the moment you pick them up and avoid all the pitfalls of owning a dog unprepared.  Puppies like small children need boundaries, a routine, guidance and lots of supervision. They explore with their mouths and noses and eat and sleep a lot.  Do it right and you will have a special companion for life.  Dogs teach us so much about kindness, and forgiveness.  They can show empathy and be therapeutic for us.  They also deserve to be wanted. Do it right and you will have no regrets.

Good Doggy! recommends these two books:

  • “Choosing the Right Dog for your and your Family” by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson is a good book to help start in the process.
  • “The Art of Raising a Puppy” by The Monks of New Skete will help you raise your new puppy.