How to find your ideal canine companion

Owning a dog has many benefits, but it is also very important to remember that it is a long-term commitment and responsibility. This factsheet takes you through the different stages of adopting a puppy and the things you should consider.

Consider the costs and time involved before buying a dog.


* Weekly food bill

* Bedding, toys, other equipment

* Veterinary care

* Insurance Cover

* Boarding kennel fees

* Grooming/clipping fees

* The average lifespan of a dog is 13 years. Are your current circumstances likely to change? If so, will owning a dog become a problem (such as starting a family, moving abroad)?

* Will you be able to devote time to your puppy when he first arrives home?

* Are you going to be away from home for long hours during the day?

* Do you go away frequently? If so, will you be able to take your dog with you?

* Will you be able to take him for at least one good walk a day?

It is essential for you to choose a breed which will best suit your circumstances.

* Why not consider adopting a rescue dog or puppy? Please remember that the KSPCA often have stray or abandoned puppies in need of loving homes. For more information ring the KSPCA on 086-8172167.

* Research the different breeds by reading books and gain as much information as possible before making your choice.

* Think about your lifestyle, size of home, facilities for exercise and time available.

* Speak to other dog owners for their advice and experience.

* Should you choose to adopt a pedigree, meet dogs of all ages and both sexes of that breed. This will give you an idea of what to expect.

* Consider both the physical and mental needs of the breed you have chosen.
What makes a good breeder?

Dog breeding is a very specialised area. This is why it is so important for you to go to a reputable breeder when choosing a puppy. Good breeders will carefully choose a brood bitch or stud dog on the basis of quality relating to the breed standard, breed lines (ancestors and genetics) and compatibility.

A good breeder will:

* not breed from a bitch on two consecutive seasons.

* only allow their bitches to have three to four litters during the bitch’s breeding life.

* ensure their dogs have a good quality of life such as a balanced diet/housing/exercise/socialisation/veterinary care when necessary.

* not sell any dog to a commercial wholesaler, pet shop, dealer or other retail outlet.

* not breed from a bitch under two year of age or over eight years of age.

* not breed from a dog or bitch that is likely to pass on any hereditary problems to future generations of puppies (research of your chosen breed may alert you to some of these hereditary disorders such as Hip Dysplasia)

*       be knowledgeable about their breed and will always advise you on any queries you may have.

*       offer to take the puppy back should your initial circumstance change.

*       be keen to follow up their puppy’s progress in its new home, want to know as much about you and what type of home their puppy is going to, as you will want to know about them.


What if I decide to buy a pedigree?

*       Avoid buying from a pet shop/other retail outlet or through a newspaper advertisement offering a wide range of breeds.  It is possible that they are a dealer and that the puppies have been bred indiscriminately, putting profit before the dogs’ welfare.

*       When you have made your choice of breed contact the breed club secretary of the breed you have chosen.

*       Be prepared to put you name on a waiting list for a litter to be born.  A will bred puppy is worth waiting form  In the mean time ask if you can visit the parents to give you and idea of what the dog will be like as an adult.

*       Insist on seeing the mother interacting with the puppies and if possible, meet the father.

*       You should have easy access to the puppies and be able to handle them.

*      Make at least two visits to the breeder to view the puppies before you final collection.

*       If you are unsure about buying the right puppy, make enquiries with the local vet to see if he would be willing to attend the viewing to check the puppy for any visible health problems, this could save money and upset in the long term.

*       Request a written agreement that purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your veterinary surgeon within 48 hours of purchase.

*       Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact.

*       Check that the facilities are clean and that the puppies appear alert and healthy.

*       Ensure all the relevant paperwork is available for inspection when you visit the puppy.  This will include:  the pedigree and registration papers, hereditary screening certificates of the parents (for example hereditary eye disease if appropriate to the breed).

*       Check to see if the puppy has be wormed and vaccinated.  Some breeders will have the puppy vaccinated at eight weeks of age before releasing it to its new home.

*       Remember a kennel club registration/pedigree does not guarantee a perfect puppy.  It is up to you to carry out  the appropriate checks.

*       Ask the breeder if they would be willing to take the puppy back should your initial circumstances change (for example if you discover you are allergic to the dog)/.  Get written confirmation of this.

*       Ask the breeder questions about the puppy’s feeding regime.  Good breeders will supply you with a diet plan.

*       Expect to have to pay a deposit on choosing your puppy.

*       Choose a puppy that is interested in you, not the one the cowers in the corner.  Be aware, that the most outgun puppy may develop a more dominant character.

*            Check that the puppy has no discharge form its eyes or nose and that there are no sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin.

*       Make sure that the puppy is alert and responsive to sounds and is showing no obvious signs of illness, such as coughing.

*       If a puppy appears unwell on collection, do not take it – arrange with the breeder to return another day.

Please remember these are only guidelines.  There may be some variation between individual breeders.

And finally, the time you spend choosing your puppy will be an investment for a long and happy relationship between you and your dog.

Caring for your new puppy

Once you have chosen your puppy, it is important for you to make plans for his transition to your home.  This will help reduce any extra stress caused by his new surroundings and give him the best start in his new life.  Here are some basic guidelines for you to follow.



*       Decide on a name for your new puppy.  This will be one of the first things he will learn.


*       Decide where your new puppy is going to sleep and have a suitable bed ready with a blanket or an old jumper.  Many people choose to place the bed in the kitchen, where the floor is easy to clean and the area is free from draughts.


*       Some puppies may have been brought up to use an indoor kennel or puppy playpen and they soon realise this is their own area where they sleep and keep their toys.  A puppy will quickly learn not to make a mess in the cage, providing he is given plenty of opportunity to relieve himself.


*       Ensure you have all the necessary equipment such as a feeding bowl, a water bowl, newspaper, a couple of safe toys, suitable grooming equipment for the coat type, a lead, collar and name tag, and a supply of food he is used to (ask the breeder or rescue centre beforehand).


*       Ensure the home environment is safe.  “Puppy proofing” is wise to avoid any unnecessary accidents.  Remove anything that you would not wish to be chewed, particularly electrical flexes and also ensure that garden fencing and gates are secure.



The puppy’s first days:


*       If the puppy appears unwell when you go to collect him – DO NOT take him- arrange to return another day.


*       Request a written agreement that purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your veterinary surgeon within 48 hours.


*       When you collect the puppy, it is best for two people to make the journey so that someone can hold the puppy in the car.  it may be a good idea to take some newspaper in case he is travel sick.


*       If you have bought a puppy from a breeder make sure that you get all the relevant paperwork- such as worming and vaccination details, the Kennel Club registration forms, pedigree certificate, dietary advice sheet – at the time of collection.


*       If your puppy has come from a rescue centre, ensure that you listen carefully to any instruction given by the staff.  If your puppy has already been vaccinated you should receive a certificate, as well as details relating to any medical treatment that he may have received.


*       For the children in the family, this will be a very exciting time.  It should be explained that the puppy is not a toy and that he needs to sleep undisturbed.  This is a good opportunity to teach your children about responsible dog ownership.


Your new baby and the family dog

Guide to a successful relationship between your new baby and the family dog 

  1. As soon as you are aware that there will be a new baby in the house, begin to prepare your family dog. Do not leave it until the new baby arrives.  It is important that your dog associates the new baby with as few disruptions as possible.


  1. Make sure that your dog has a basic understanding of good behaviour. Being able to lie quietly for short periods, not jumping up, walking on the lead without pulling and coming when called are all essential.


  1. It is likely that your dog is used to being the “baby” in the family and may find it difficult losing this position. Get your dog used to being ignored and left alone for short periods of time every day.


  1. If you intend to exclude your dog from certain areas of the house after the baby arrives, establish these rules well in advance to the baby’s arrival. Ideally, the dog should be excluded from the baby’s bedroom.


  1. Teach your dog to walk gently next to the pram.


  1. Get your dog accustomed to new items of furniture such as playpens, carry cots and highchairs before the baby arrives. If possible get a tape recording of baby noises and play it in a tape recorder placed where the baby will normally be so the dog becomes socialised to these sounds.  Also teach the dog the difference between his/her toys and the baby’s toys.


  1. Make sure that you develop a routine and stick to it when the baby arrives. It is important that the dog receives sufficient mental and physical stimulation.


  1. Try not to make a big deal with the dog about the arrival of the new baby. Teach the dog how to approach the baby properly and gently.  Allow the dog to make initial investigations and approaches.


  1. Associate the baby’s presence with positive things. Give the dog titbits and lavish praise for desired behaviour around the baby.  Do not place the baby on the floor with the dog and never shout at or hit your dog for approaching the baby incorrectly.  Gently show the dog what you wish him/her to do and offer a reward for responding.


  1. Ensure that your dog is healthy and is up to date with worming and vaccinations before the baby arrives.


  1. NEVER leave any baby or child unattended with any dog.


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