Steps To Getting A Dog
Just petting a dog is enough to bring down our stress levels, so it's no wonder getting a dog has been the choice for so many of us during lockdown. Statistics say that as many as 3.2 million households in the UK opened their hearts to a new pet during the first lockdown and it’s no surprise to us that the greater part of these chose to get a pup!
As cute as little doggies are, it’s not been an easy road for some new puppy parents. With so many unscrupulous breeders flooding the market some discovered that their pricey new dog was unhealthy, maltreated, and the breeding licence they were shown was fake.
Owning a dog sometimes isn’t as easy as it looks. Let’s consider the steps to getting a dog. What do we need to know before we take the plunge and bring a new doggie home?
Steps to Getting a Dog
1. What dog suits you?
Getting a dog means committing to caring for them throughout their life which on average could be around13 years so finding the right fit for your lifestyle and knowing what you have to offer is an important first step. If you are a couch potato, it's probably best not to get an excitable dog. If you're likely to be away from home for long periods, bear in mind that dogs can get lonely and don’t like to be alone for hours on end. Getting two dogs who can keep each other company would be best if this is your situation.
Is your home big enough to accommodate the dog as it grows? Are you close to a park?
2. Puppy vs adult?
You’ll need to be patient and train your dog with rewards-based training techniques.
Are you able to give your dog a daily walk and 2 hours of your attention a day?
Can you handle a puppy?
Puppies need training and loads of attention, especially when they are very young and being house-trained. Also, they tend to gnaw everything in sight which means you need to be paying attention with plenty of chew toys and treats on hand if you want to save your furniture. Have you got the patience and positive attitude needed to teach your puppy the basics?
In the first 12 weeks, they also need to learn important socialisation skills to grow into a well balanced, happy dog. Through the pandemic, many dog trainers started to teach online and discovered that it works well. Once you've chosen the right dog trainer or behaviourist, it's a good idea to book their time as soon as you know when your pup is arriving.
Does adoption suit you better?
They will most likely be house trained.
They’ll have less energy but will still need a daily walk.
One in four lockdown puppies found their way back onto the market. You could offer one of these needy dogs a happy forever home.
3. Pedigree or mixed breed?
Some breeds have a predisposition to certain ailments, it’s good to know what those are. Mixed breed dogs tend to be hardier and more resilient to sickness. This does not mean they’re spared the pedigree ailments.
4. Make a wish list of breeds that appeal to you
Take time to read up on each breed.
Find dog professionals, talk to them about the pros and cons of the breeds that interest you.
Consider temperament, health issues, grooming, training, and exercise. These things vary from breed to breed.
5. Know the reputable breeders
The first lockdown revealed that con men are working gullible buyers. Puppy farming and puppy smuggling are rife, know Lucy's Law.
Make sure that the people you talk to are reputable. Spot phoney breeders, don't get scammed
6. Considering the cost
An overpriced dog does not mean a better dog. Make sure you are not paying too much or too little for your dog. Consider the Cost of care for your dog.
According to PDSA the cost of raising a large dog can be anywhere between £5,700 to £13,000 over their lifetime.
Medium breeds can cost between £7,000 and £11,000.
The price of a small dog can range between £4,600 to £8,900 over their whole life.
After you’ve spent the initial set-up costs on neutering, tracking chips, and jabs it's about £80 a month.
Research what vets in your area charge.
Consider pet insurance, your dog may need to visit the vet often.
7. Time investment
The time commitment of having a dog varies according to which breed you have.
They are pack animals which means they need to belong and to do that they need your attention for 1 to 2 hours a day.
They need training, loving attention, enrichment activities, cuddle time, and walkies.
Puppies must be socialised in their first 3 months. Are you able to take it on? Socialisation means: going to the local park, connecting with other dogs and children. Introducing them to traffic, loud noises and machinery. Watch Adem Fehmi show us how to socialise your puppy through introducing novel stimulus.
8. Health responsibilities
Spaying, neutering, vaccinations, dental care, chipping, and tagging is the beginning. Understand your breed's health predispositions.
9. Find a reputable trainer
Good trainers (rewards based trainers) are often booked up months in advance so make a booking before your new dog arrives home. Training your dog under the guidance of a good trainer will save you years of frustration.
10. Know your dog’s rights
It’s the law to take proper care of your pet. The Blue Cross states your dog's rights as follows:
Know your dog's rights
Live in a suitable environment
Eat a suitable doggie diet
Exhibit normal behaviour patterns
Be housed with, or apart from, other animals
Be protected from pain, suffering, injury, and disease
Dog owners who fail to ensure their pet’s welfare needs face prosecution. And they run the risk of causing suffering to an animal who they have a responsibility to care for.
You’ve decided to buy a dog - what now?
Ask about the dog’s health history; vaccinations; pedigree issues; any warranties.
If you’ve decided to adopt a rescue, whatever you can find out about their history will help you give them the best care.
Tips to protect you when buying your dog
If the price is too high or too low, walk away.
Protect yourself with a paper trail: save the proof of how you paid.
Ask the seller to answer all your questions in an email.
Pet shops and breeders must either give you a commercial document or a signed puppy contract.
And you bring your new dog home! Get the basics of puppy training covered, have fun bonding with your new best friend. Continue to train them yourself, make a lifelong habit of it. Check out Charlotte Carr’s 10 tips for training your dog at home. The connection that you have with you well behaved dog will bring you both a lifetime of joy. And will hugely impress all your friends and the whole dog park.