When thinking about a new puppy, there are a few basic questions that you need to answer before diving in. These questions can really help a prospective owner decide on which breed will suit them the best.
1. What are the traits and personalities of the breed I am looking at?
2. How much exercise will the puppy need?
3. What food should I feed the puppy?
4. Are there any good trainers in the area?
5. What types of toys should I provide?
6. What type of bedding should I give to the puppy?
7. How should I train the dog, especially in those important first few weeks?
There are far too many puppies that end up in rehoming centres or being sold on after a few months due to poor choices made by their original owners, these choices are usually related to the breed chosen and poor training from the outset.
Preparing well in advance can help make sure that the puppy grows into a fitting member of the household, and not just a naughty dog.
Find A Good Training School
Finding a good training school for you and your new puppy should be near the top of your list. Old school trainers usually suggest training to start from 6 months as they use harsh and aversive methods and puppies under 6 months would not be able to withstand these. Almost all training schools in this area teach reward based training methods, which is gentle and enjoyable for the puppy, these are the types of schools you should choose. Most good classes will allow you to sit in and watch before choosing them, along with speaking to the trainer.
I would recommend searching on APDT, IMDT or the Kennel Club websites for local trainers registered with them. These trainers must complete a practical exam with the companies before being listed, so you know these can be trusted.
Choose A Suitable Breed
Choosing the correct breed is extremely important when picking a puppy. A Jack Russell, for instance, are known for their enthusiasm for life, but this will also include chasing anything that moves for as far as possible. Although they are extremely intelligent, they can also be extremely boisterous, headstrong and determined that his way is the only way. My Jack Russell is an exception to these rules, she is extremely easy to train and very lazy in the house. Knowing about the breed before buying can help know which breed is best for your household. Labradores for example are great with kids, gentle and affectionate, easy to train and love to please their owners but due to them being a working breed they do require a lot of exercise.
Greyhounds are gentle and loving dogs, and can be easy to train. However, if they see a small animal such as a cat, they will usually chase and try to kill once caught, regardless of recall training.
Springer Spaniels are great family dogs. They are happy, fun, intelligent and loving dogs. They are a breed which is easy to train (except on leads in my experience), and also great with children. However, and untrained springer will follow a scent until they are good and ready to come back.
Although Border Collies are very popular dogs, I would not recommend getting one if you are a first time owner. Collies are extremely intelligent, high energy working dogs. Without an awful lot mental stimulation and exercise, they will develop behavioural issues and often turn snappy.
When choosing a puppy, you should try and choose one that has been brought up in a house, around people and other dogs, along with all the sounds that come with a homely environment. These dogs will have started socialisation along with the habitual process and house training.
There are plenty of crossbreeds available, so when you choose a dog you should create a shortlist and ensure the dog you choose match breeds from the list.
You can check out these 2 websites that will match you to a dog breed, although when I tried the first one of them for myself, I hadn't even heard of any of the dogs suggested! All I wanted was for one of the sites to tell me to get a German Shepherd or a Collie, which neither did.... sigh....
Socialisation and Training
The first 14-16 weeks of the puppies life are crucial. Everyday the puppy should be introduced to new items, surroundings, people and dogs. Dont forget to socialise your dog around traffic, with men, women and children and different breeds of dogs. Also think about different household appliances, traveling in the car and different noises. This is the time when phobias can arise and quickly be taken care of.
All puppies will be afraid of new things, this is in built behaviour to protect them. This fearfulness doesn't start until around 6 weeks old, which is why it is so important for breeders to start the process long before the puppy is ready to go to its new home. Although it is possible to rehabilitate new dogs, it can be an extremely long and drawn out process that could have been avoided. Some dogs will never completely get over their fear of certain things.
Whether you are a breeder or getting a puppy, check out The Puppy Plan website. Here you can create a plan for the puppy to ensure it is correctly socialised.
Dr Ian Dunbar sets out 6 key stages for puppy development and these are as follows:
1. Owner education before taking on a new puppy.
2. Evaluate the progress of a puppy before it goes to its new home.
3. Toilet training. This should again start with the breeder, this will make it a lot easier for the new owner and the puppy.
4. Socialisation up to 16 weeks is the next deadline. This should start with the breeder and the puppy should have learned to trust their owner by this point.
5. How hard to bite and then not to bite at all. This should also start within the litter, a puppy will yelp if another puppy bites to hard and cause them to back off. When we get a puppy we should enforce this and redirect biting to toys (whilst ensuring we are not rewarding biting).
6. The final one is continuation of socialisation, regularly reintroducing them to things so that they dont forget their valuable lessons.
You can get Dr Dunbars free EBooks HERE
When getting a puppy, we need to remember to train from day 1! We also must remember that the English language is foreign to a puppy, so we should remain calm and keep training fun instead of getting frustrated.