Getting a Puppy: The Essential Guide

Who can resist a puppy? Those wriggling bundles of innocence are just adorable. If you’re considering bringing a new pup into your life it’s an exciting time, filled with anticipation of all the fun you’ll have together. And if you choose carefully, enlisting the help of your head as well as your heart, and ensure you’ve done your research and are well prepared, you’ll be setting the stage for a loving, trusting relationship that will endure for the remainder of your dog’s life.

Labrador puppy playing with ball

First you need to consider which breed, or mix of breeds, feels right for you. Every dog is different, but there are certain breed traits and it’s wise to do some research into these before making a decision. Bear in mind that it’s likely to be love at first sight with any puppy you meet, but you’re looking for a lifelong companion who will be the right match for you and your family. Think about the size your pup will grow up to be, what his exercise needs are likely to be as he matures, and whether you can be at home with him for most of the time during those crucial early weeks. Puppies need company, and you also need to be there to teach him toilet training, basic manners, and to work with any minor behaviour issues should they arise.

Rescue or Breeder?

Rescues do have puppies surrendered to them. Often a pregnant bitch will be taken into rescue and the puppies will spend their first weeks in foster care with her. Sometimes, sadly, litters of puppies are abandoned and taken into rescue. It’s worth contacting local rescues, and also breed rescues, to ask whether they have any pups for rehoming. You can also ask to be put on a list for when puppies arrive in the future.

If you decide to buy your puppy from a breeder, please check that breeder is reputable. Ensure you can visit several times and that you see the puppy with his mother as well as littermates. The breeder should be able to give you information about the father, if he lives elsewhere, and the puppies should be well cared for, healthy looking, sociable, will have their first vaccinations and be micro-chipped while in the breeder’s care, and hopefully will be taught the basics of toilet training.

Puppy farms are rife, unfortunately, despite great efforts to eliminate these places of torment, so please avoid the temptation to buy a pup you see without the mother present. If someone offers to meet you somewhere to hand over the puppy, or offers to bring him to your home, steer well clear.

Puppy Costs

Are you prepared for the financial expense of raising a pup? You’ll need to bear in mind the cost of immunisations, worming, neutering later on if you decide to, and any healthcare that may be needed for a period of up to 17 years for a small dog. It’s wise to purchase pet insurance as soon as your puppy arrives so that if medical help is needed at some stage it won’t break the bank.

Puppy Shopping list

You’ll need to be well-prepared for your pup’s arrival. Here’s a list of some essentials.

  • A soft adjustable collar

  • A puppy harness

  • An ID tag with your name, postcode and phone number (not your pup’s name)

  • A long light lead or line

  • Food and water bowls

  • A comfortable bed

  • A crate if you decide to crate-train your pup, that can be left open and used as a quiet den space

  • Food: check what your pup has been fed on where he’s been living and start him off on that. If you plan to put him on a different diet you can change this gradually over a period of a week or two

  • Toys

  • Safe chews to give those sharp puppy teeth something to chomp on, and to offer as an alternative if he decides to nibble on the furniture (or you)

  • Poo bags

  • Enzymatic cleaner for cleaning up after accidents

  • Treats! Lots of treats, as you’ll be using these to reward him for everything he does that’s desirable

Puppy Proofing

It’s much easier to puppy-proof your home before your pup arrives, and that saves the stress of racing across to remove something he’s found that could be dangerous to him. Puppy-proofing isn’t really any different to toddler-proofing your home – it’s a matter of keeping all no-go articles well out of the way.

  • Check there are no loose wires, and make sure that all wires are clipped to the skirting boards or walls.

  • Check your house and garden to ensure there are no plants that could be poisonous to dogs. This includes daffodils, cyclamen, delphiniums, hyacinth, wisteria and lilies – you’ll be able to find an extensive list of plants to avoid if you search online.

  • Remove or tidy away anything within reach that could be used as a chew toy – you won’t want your slippers or your children’s toys to become something for your pup to nibble on – and make sure your phones and TV remote control aren’t accessible to him. Bear in mind that whatever he can reach will be considered by him to be there for his entertainment, and if you leave a b