How to get a dog: The Ultimate guide to finding a new friend
Wondering how to get a dog and transform your family forever?
A dog really is so much more than a canine companion. These wonderful creatures are a source of comfort and support when you need them most. No matter the breed you choose, your dog is sure to give you years of happiness and love. All you need to do, is make sure you’re getting your pup from the right location.
Avoiding puppy farms and puppy pills is essential if you’re keen to find a healthy puppy, while fighting back against the horrendous treatment of pedigree puppies in the modern world. Here’s what you need to know when getting your new dog.
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Committed
It might sound like a cliché, but a dog really is for life. You need to be committed to the idea of raising your dogs from puppy through to adulthood, with all the right care, attention, and support to keep them healthy and happy. Owning a dog isn’t always fun and games.
You’ll need to think about costs like vet bills, pet insurance, food, and toys. Dogs can be noisy and energetic, and often cause more than a few messes. Depending on the breed, you’ll also need to be willing to take your dogs out for long walks – even when you’re exhausted after work.
Make sure you know what caring for a dog really involves before you let wagging tails, big eyes, and floppy ears get the best of you. This guide from the ASPCA offers some insights into what you’ll need to get started.
Step 2: Do Your Research
Now it’s time to start thinking about what kind of puppy you want.
There are a few things to consider here. For instance, do you want an older dog, or do you want to raise your dog from a pup? Puppies are cute and fun, but they need a lot of attention. If you’re not going to be around enough to care for your puppy during various stages of crate training, potty training and more, then you might be better off looking at an older dog.
Older dogs generally don’t need as much training, provided you get one with the right upbringing. Some older dogs from breed rescues and other rescue organisations do have additional requirements. Make sure you’re aware of any behavioural issues before you dive in.
It’s also a good idea to think about the kind of dog breed that’s right for you. Some dogs are more active than others, making them an excellent choice for people with an outdoorsy lifestyle, and a lot of free time. Other dogs don’t require nearly as much attention and support.
Don’t just choose a dog because it looks great. Remember to look at the following things when choosing a breed:
- Food requirements: Wet food, dry food, specialist mixes and treats can all be more expensive when you’re buying for a specific breed.
- Activity levels: If your dog has high energy levels, then you may need to invest in doggy daycare when you’re at work or find someone to care for them.
- Health issues: Some dogs are more prone to health issues than others (like pugs). You’ll need to consider whether you can avoid the vet bills
Step 3: Consider Your Options
Once you know what kind of dog you’re going to get, and what age they should be, you can begin to consider your purchasing or adoption options. Purchasing a dog means that you’re more likely to get the exact breed and lineage you want, if you have a specific preference. However, this also means that you’re at higher risk of ending up at a puppy mill.
A Rescue Centre will often be much more affordable, as all you need to do is pay for your adoption fee, and the initial vet fees when adopting your puppy. You can even look into fostering dogs from puppy rescues to get an insight into what kind of dog works best for you, if you’re not sure.
When examining rescue groups and adoption centres, make sure you look into the kind of dogs you’re most likely to get from each group, and how much help they can provide through the adoption process. Organisations like Dogs Trust will often give you plenty of advice from an expert team on how to bring your new puppy into your home.
Your main options for where to get a puppy include:
- Dogs Trust: One of the most reputable adoption centres in the UK, Dog’s trust will help you to make the right decision about which puppy to take home.
- Rescue shelters: Rescue shelters exist all over the country, with some specialising in specific types of dog. You can even look for a shelter dedicated to your favourite breed.
- Council shelters: These are shelters created by local councils to re-home pets which may be removed from a previous home environment.
- Newspaper ads: Some people sell their pets through newspaper and online advertisements. Make sure you can trust these people before you adopt.
- Breeders: Dedicated breeders often have their own websites where you can learn more about the puppy and their lineage.
Step 4: Prepare to Bring Your Puppy Home
Now you’ve made the choice to become a dog owner, and you know where your dog is going to come from, you can start prepping your family for the new arrival. Talk to your kids and other family members about the kind of things they’ll have to do to help care for the puppy.
Discuss things like who will be responsible for walking at which times, and who should clean up after the puppy when it has accidents. If you have young kids, it’s often a good idea to go through your adoption booklet with them and discuss things like:
- Which foods and substances a puppy should never be allowed to eat.
- How to recognise signs of illness and stomach upset in a puppy
- What kind of treatment the puppy should have, and whether it’s ok to pick them up
- How to walk the dog or puppy, and how often it needs exercise
- What kind of household rules will be in place (like no jumping on the sofa)
If you’re getting your puppy from an adoption centre or a trustworthy breeder, they should be able to give you advice on things like whether your puppy is going to need obedience training, and if there are any common behaviours or issues you need to prepare for.
Step 5: Puppy-Proof the Property
Preparing yourself for the arrival of a new pooch doesn’t just mean getting the family ready. You’ll also need to ensure that your home is prepared.
Remember, if you’re adopting an active puppy, it’s best to get things like baby gates and child locks in place to protect your pup from hurting themselves as they rush around your house. You’ll also need to prepare for some anxious behaviours and distress behaviours from your dog. While they’re growing up, they may destroy some furniture, have accidents in places and more. If you need to keep anything in good condition, keep it out of the way of the puppy.
When puppy-proofing the property, remove any dangerous chemicals from around the home, lock up medicines, and keep foods away from the puppy’s access. It’s a good idea to keep toilet lids closed, secure electrical cords, and remove anything your dog might chew on or swallow.
Never leave your puppy unsupervised, as this often leads to dogs eating things they shouldn’t.
Step 6: Arrange Regular Vet Visits
Once you’ve adopted your pet, you’ll need to take them to the vet for a thorough check-up. During this vet visit, you can ask your vet any questions you might have about your dog and its well-being. This is the perfect time to ask about medical issues that the breed has, or what kind of food you should be feeding your new dog.
It’s also important to arrange for a follow-up series of vet visits for your pooch. Puppies need many vaccinations during the early years of its life to prevent it from getting sick, so make sure you get these in place straight away. It’s also worth thinking about whether you want to spay or neuter your puppy to avoid issues with an accidental litter.
Around once a year, you’ll need to take your dog to the vet for a regular visit around once per year. You may need to take your dog to the vet more often if they need special care or show symptoms like reduced appetite or ill health. Dog insurance will help to reduce the costs of caring for your pet.
Step 7: Feeding Your Puppy
Every puppy has specific requirements when it comes to food.
Your vet should be able to give you some insights into the kind of essential vitamins and minerals your specific puppy needs. Pay attention to the vet’s recommendation on kinds of food, as well as water intake. It’s often a good idea to have fresh water available for your dog at all times.
There are specifically formulated dog foods designed for puppies, to ensure they grow up with healthy fur, bones, muscles, teeth, and skin. Your puppy also requires more calories than a fully-grown dog, so don’t be nervous if they seem to eat quite a lot.
Lots of people will switch from puppy to adult dog food as the pup grows. Again, your vet can give you insights into the kind of meals to use. Remember, although the occasional treat is okay for your dog, you shouldn’t be feeding your dog from your plate often. Canine stomachs are very different to human stomachs, and simple foods can cause serious stomach upset.
If you’ve adopted a dog with medical issues, check your adoption contracts, or speak to the adoption support volunteers about meal requirements.
Step 8: Enjoying Life with your Puppy
Finally, all that’s left to do is enjoy a wonderful life with your puppy. You should start training your dog as quickly as possible, providing insights into the acceptable and non-acceptable behaviours your dog needs to be aware of. You can reward your dog with praise and the occasional treat but be careful not to increase food intake too much.
If you have issues with training your dog, you can always look into things like clicker reward systems in pet shops, or you could talk to a professional dog trainer when your dog reaches the right age. Remember, when your pup is still in its first few months of life, it’s bound to have some behavioural problems, including going to the bathroom where it shouldn’t.
Remember to take your dog for plenty of regular walks and keep it well exercised to ensure it can live a happy and healthy life.
Life with your new pup is going to be great!