Do you want an adult dog or a puppy?
Do you want a male or female dog?
Do you want a purebred, or a crossbred? And with the crossbred, do you want a known combination (such as Cavoodles or Moodles) or just a “Heinz 57”? Purebred dogs will give more certainty on what to expect as to the size, haircoat length (grooming requirements) and even certain behaviour traits of the dog.
Where are you planning to get your dog from? Are you considering adopting a dog from the pound, or would you prefer to get a puppy from a breeder, or did you fall in love with a puppy from a pet shop?
If you are planning to get a puppy, where he or she comes from is very important. This is because puppies go through various important developmental stages in life, which can impact on their learning and behaviour. The socialisation period starts earlier than many people realise, at about 3 weeks of age, and finishes around the 14-16 weeks of age. During this period puppies learn social skills, form relationships and learn to live with humans and other animals. During this time, they are very sensitive, and any experiences (positive or negative) will have long lasting effects on the puppy. We want our puppies to see people, other pets, their environment and new experiences as ‘safe’, therefore it is important that puppies are exposed to as many new experiences that are non – threatening and positive and rewarding in this period. Most people adopt their new puppy at 7-8 weeks of age, so it becomes clear the breeder’s environment plays an important role in the early socialisation period.
Whenever possible, it is advisable to know as much as possible about the home your puppy was in before you bring him or her home. If possible, visit the home, ask questions about access to household experiences such as handling, vacuum cleaners, human noises, TV and radio, the health of parents, treatments already given, nutrition, etc. Be aware of puppies that may come from so-called “puppy farms”, where breeding occurs on a large scale, and puppies aren’t getting the early social and behavioural stimuli important to become well -adjusted happy pets. Such puppies may be sold via internet sites, ads, markets, and even through “shopfront homes” to hide the true environments they have come from.
When you bring your puppy home, it is important to keep up the exposures to new experiences in a positive way, and continue the socialisation process for the rest of the puppy’s life, not just in the first weeks of getting him or her. Puppy preschool, offered by the Cronulla Veterinary Clinic for puppies from 8-16 weeks of age, can help with this.
When choosing a breed, it is advisable to be aware of the different breed groups that exist and to familiarise yourself with the breed characteristics and the traditional role of dogs belonging to that breed group. For example, terriers were originally kept to hunt vermin like rats and foxes underground, and are very active. Retrievers belong to the breed group of Gundogs and are very intelligent. It is important to realise though, that there can still be a great variation of behaviours within the breed. Individual personality types and past and present experiences influence behaviour as well. Apart from behavioural traits, it is important to consider anatomical features in your pup that, in exaggerated forms, can reduce your pet’s quality of life. We advise to research your preferred breed and both its behavioural traits as well as any potential health issues. Further information can be found at www.rspcapuppyguide.com.au
There are also various puppy choice quizzes available online to help you make a choice.
If you prefer to adopt an older dog, there are plenty of rescue groups with dogs looking for a new home. Have a chat to the rescue places, if possible find out about any background information of the rescue pet. A good rescue place will help you through the adoption process, to try to match the right people to the right dog, to maximise happy relationships and minimize dogs being returned to the shelters.
Good luck in your quest for your new addition to the family, we hope to see you soon😊
The Team at Cronulla Veterinary Clinic