Once you’ve decided what sorts of dog breeds are going to suit your household and where you’re going to find your new dog, you may need to make a choice about which puppy to choose from a litter. Sit down quietly as a family and see which puppies make contact first and which ones stay around the longest. There are many signs to look out for when choosing a good puppy and there are also some questions you should ask yourself before taken one home:
Do you have children?
If so, then you’ll need a kid-friendly pooch. Your kids will also have to be dog-friendly — prepare for the extra steps it takes to teach them to train the dog, and to respect her space.
Are there already other dogs in your home?
Introducing a new one will involve some additional steps, too. Watch your prospective puppy at the shelter to see how she gets along with the other dogs. If she’s combative there, she’s not going to turn into a pacifist when she gets to her new home.
Does your job take you away a lot?
Do you have to travel for work or have a long commute? Think about whether you can invest in help while you’re away.
Are you a couch potato?
Be honest with yourself here, because some dogs need considerably more exercise than others. Are you sure you will be up to taking 30-minute walks in February?
Do you live in a cramped city apartment?
If that little puppy you have your eye on is likely to grow into a behemoth, maybe you should rethink your dream breed. Remember, though, that some smaller, more active dogs can take up a lot of space (and energy) in their own way.
Do you have friends, family members, or professional dog walkers who’ll be able to help out when necessary?
You should have at least one person you can leave a set of keys with who can handle feeding and medication — and who has contact information for your vet.
Can you afford him?
Depending on its breed, your puppy could end up costing you from $600 to roughly $900 each year — beyond what you paid to adopt her. So, before you commit, make a budget and figure out what you can handle.
Recurring veterinary bills?
Beyond the initial $200 to spay her — plus $150 for the first exam, another $150 for vaccinations, $130 for heartworm testing — it’s smart to plan how you’ll pay for ongoing medical care. Put aside an extra $210 for toy breeds and up to $260 for a large dog, and definitely consider pet health insurance.
Bigger dogs eat more. And if yours has special dietary requirements, the bargain supermarket brand is out of the question. At minimum, owners spend $55 annually to feed a toy breed, $120 for a medium-size dog, and $235 for a giant.
You may need training classes, the occasional sitter, and extras like a gate, car-seat tether, wee pads, and non-toxic cleaning products. And don’t forget cute looks also have a price. Grooming and nail grinding expenses can add up, too.
Once you have answered all the above questions and understand what your need is, next step would be to select a puppy that you are committed to love with wholeheart. You want to select a puppy who is socialized, confident, housetrained, chewtoy-trained, and obedience trained.
1. Social Attraction
For years it was dogmatically stated that puppies that approached quickly, jumped-up, and bit your hands were totally unsuitable as pets, since they were aggressive and difficult to train. On the contrary, these are normal, well-socialized, eight-week-old puppies, which are simply saying hello in true puppy fashion without the benefit of manners. With some very basic training to redirect the pup’s delightful exuberance, you’ll have the fastest recalls and the quickest sits in puppy class. Also, puppy biting is both normal and absolutely necessary. In fact the more dogs bite as puppies, the softer and safer their jaws in adulthood.
If the puppy acts shy or scared, then without a doubt he has not been sufficiently socialized. Look elsewhere. If, however, you really have your heart set on taking a shy puppy, only do so if each family member can coax the pup to approach and take a food treat. A shy puppy represents a substantial time commitment, since he will need to be hand-fed kibble every day from a variety of strangers. To rehabilitate this pup, you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you during the next four weeks.
Make sure the puppy quickly and happily approaches all family members.
2. Handling and Gentling
Your prospective puppy should feel thoroughly at ease being handled by strangers — you and your family. Handle each puppy to see how he enjoys being cuddled (gently restrained) and stroked and massaged (examined) around his neck, muzzle, ears, paws, belly, and rear end. Your puppy should relax like a rag doll. If the puppy struggles, see how long it takes for the pup to calm down.
Make sure all family members handle the puppy.
3. Sound Sensitivity
Exposure to a variety of sounds should commence well before the eyes and ears are fully opened, especially with sound-sensitive dogs, such as herding and obedience breeds. It is quite normal for puppies to react to noises. What you are trying to evaluate is the extent of each pup’s reaction and the pup’s bounce-back time. For example, we expect a puppy to react to a sudden and unexpected loud noise, but we do not expect him to go to pieces. Judge whether the puppy reacts or overreacts to sounds, and time how long it takes for the puppy to approach and take a food treat (the bounce-back time). Expect immeasurably short bounce-back times from bull breeds, and short bounce-backs from working dogs and terriers, but be prepared for longer bounce-back times from toys and herding breeds. Regardless of a dog’s breed or type, however, excessive overreaction, panic, or extremely lengthy bounce-back times are all proof of insufficient socialization. Unless successfully rehabilitated, such pups may become extremely reactive when they grow up.
Evaluate the puppies’ response to a variety of noises: people talking, laughing, crying, and shouting, a whistle, a hiss, or a single hand clap.
4. Household Etiquette
If the puppies have no available toilet and the entire puppy area has been covered with sheets of newspaper, the puppies will have developed a strong preference for going on paper and will need specialized housetraining in their new home. Moreover, if there is no toilet and the entire area has been littered with straw or shredded paper, the puppies will have learned they may eliminate anywhere and everywhere, which is what they will do in your home. The longer the puppy has been raised in these conditions, the more difficult she will be to housetrain.
Try to observe the litter for at least two hours and pay attention to where each puppy eliminates and what each puppy chews.
5. Basic Manners
Evaluate each puppy’s response to your lure/reward training attempts using pieces of kibble or chewtoys as lures and rewards. Make sure each family member trains the puppy to come, sit, lie down, stand and rollover.
6. Singleton Puppies
Most pups have adequate opportunity to play with their littermates during their first eight weeks. Singleton and hand-reared pups have had insufficient opportunity to play (play-fight and play-bite) and therefore teaching bite inhibition is a top priority. If you select a singleton puppy, make sure you enroll in a puppy classes as soon as your puppy reaches three months of age. Play and socialization are essential for puppies to develop and maintain a soft mouth.