Choosing a Dog

Choosing a Dog
So you want a dog! Does the entire family buy into this idea? Experience has shown that if one or more are against a pet, then bringing an animal into that environment can cause considerable family friction and stress. Have you weighed up the financial and time implications, these can be considerable, owning a dog is a serious commitment and should never be taken lightly.

You should take into consideration your health, age, and overall time constraints; do you want an active or sedentary animal? Some dogs demand and require almost constant attention, lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Others are more laid back; therefore you need to research which dog will suit you and your family's outlook and lifestyle that includes living arrangements. For instance if you live in a flat and had limited time, a Border Collie or Springer Spaniel type dog would be madness, and would most probably lead to serious behavioural difficulties. Not only for the dog!

Lots of people buy a dog because they like the look of them, i.e. for aesthetic reasons, without taking into account the needs and temperament of that breed. You need to research both the positive and the negative side of your chosen breed and make sure what you are looking for is suitable for your environment and lifestyle. Make sure you have fully decided on the breed before you start looking for your new addition to the family


If you have decided on a Puppy then there are some fundamental things you must do and some rules that you must adhere to, no matter what the breeder or seller tells you.

Rule 1. Never ever buy a Puppy from anywhere or anyone without being able to see at least one or preferably both the parents. There are places called Puppy Farms that are absolutely deplorable. The puppies from these farms generally have major problems throughout their lives, mainly caused through poor breeding, bad sanitation, cheap food etc. They are also often taken from their mother and siblings far too early, causing socialisation problems with people and other dogs.

Do not let the word Farm give you the wrong impression. It may not be a farm but kennels that are clear, airy, and bright, and on the face of it look like a professional establishment. If you cannot meet at least one parent, or there are lots of different breeds of pups, then do not even consider buying a puppy or you could live to regret it.

Quite often dealers will buy the whole litter for, say, £45 from puppy farms in Ireland or Wales, then sell a puppy on to you at £450.00, complete with bogus pedigree certification.

Rule 2. Never buy a Puppy from a Pet Shop or any other similar outlet; other animals are generally OK but not Dogs. You could be supporting the horrific trade in puppy-farmed dogs. I have even seen pups being sold at car boot sales.

Rule 3. Never buy on impulse, or because you feel sorry for a frightened and timid puppy.

Rule 4. Never take the word of a breeder, or any seller, who says you cannot meet any of the parents, or they skirt your questions concerning the parents. The excuses commonly used are the mothers ill, or not available, or at friends, or they are selling a pup for someone else.

Rule 5. Do not automatically believe that your dog is a pedigree. Just because they have supplied a certificate, especially if parents cannot be seen, some of these certificates are not worth the cheap paper they are printed on. I have a puppy at my classes at the time of writing this, with a full pedigree certificate, sold as a Cocker Spaniel yet it is clearly and without any shadow of a doubt an English Springer Spaniel.

Rule 6. Unless you are an experience handler/dog owner then do not pick the puppy that bounds up to you and pushes all the others out the way to get to you. This is normally the most dominant of the litter. Do not also go to the other end of the scale and pick the runt or the frightened one, because you feel sorry for it, you are taking on a whole heap of problems if you do, the majority of all dog attacks are based on fear, not aggression. You are far better off picking a pup from the middle rankings. The breeder, if worth their salt, should be able to advise you on this. Alternatively you can employ a behaviourist or specialist who can assess the pups using a specialised puppy assessment tests.

Rule 7. If you looking for puppies do not automatically think that if you go through the Kennel Club route that those dogs and breeders have all been personally checked or vetted by that organisation as this is not the case. Though an excellent and well meaning establishment, The Kennel Club really does not have the facilities, nor the ability or time, to check the credentials or bona fide of all the breeders on their books.

You would be better off to go to the breed clubs of the type of dog you are looking for, as they generally know each individual breeder, and respect each other ethics and work. Contact the secretaries and they should be able to point you in the direction of available quality pups.



© Stan Rawlinson, The Dog Listener. Dog Behaviourist & Obedience Trainer. Stan Rawlinson (Doglistener) is a Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer who has owned and worked dogs for over 25 years, starting with Gundogs then moving on to the behavioural and obedience side of Pet Dogs in 1996. He now has a successful practice covering London, Surrey and Middlesex you can visit his web site

This may not be reproduced elsewhere on the Internet. However, you are welcome to link to this page, please use the following code:
Bookmark and Share
Submitted: 26 Aug, 2006 (Edited 29 Jan, 2010)
Views: 1597 views.
Discussion: 0 comments

Previous Listing | Next Listing