5 Tips For Choosing A Pet Dog

Robert Woodward shares his top 5 tips to consider when choosing a pet dog.

Am I Ready For A Dog?

Dog ownership brings many rewards. They promote not just companionship and caring, but also improve our lifestyle and sociability. But are you ready for a dog? The Kennel Club recommends for you to answer these five simple questions.

If you answer is yes, then you are ready to proceed to the next step:

  • Can I afford a dog? Do I have the money to pay for the upkeep and care of a dog (daily food and water, monthly flea and worm treatments)?
  • Can I make a lifelong commitment to a dog?
  • Is my home suitable to house a dog?
  • Do I want to walk a dog every day?
  • Do I have the time to train, groom and generally care for a dog?

What Age, Breed Of Dog Do I Get?

This largely depends on several factors:

  • Temperament: Although training will help to socialise dogs and improve their interactions with other animals and their owners, dog breeds tend to share certain temperament characteristics. I would therefore recommend all to consider general temperament of a breed of dog before you consider to proceed any further. The kennel club will give advice on this but also come speak to us, we are very happy to give you our advice.
  • Size: Does your dog choice fit in with your home, car, children and exercise plans?
  • Coat length and type: Do you mind grooming your dog daily?
  • Pedigree or cross-breed? Pedigree dogs tend to cost a lot more than cross bred animals. They will have a breed standard to conform to. Cross bred animals will often display a mixture of traits of their parents.
  • Any existing animals? Some breeds in general do not mix well with other dogs. They resent sharing their space, the attention that they get, toys and treats with other dogs. Consider things carefully before you get a “companion” for any existing pets. Things can often be fine, but they can also can go badly wrong.

How Do I Find The Right Breeder?

I would always recommend to go to reputable supplier. Animal organisations such as Dog Advisory council, The Kennel Club, Dogs Trust and RCPCA (and locally Babbington Dog Rescue) will be able to provide you with advice.

I would also check the animal’s history by speaking to the previous owner. If it’s a puppy or kitten you should always see them in their home environment and not in any other location e.g. service station, roadside or car park.

If an animal was born outside the UK it will have documentation attached to it including either a pet passport and/or a veterinary certificate. A puppy would always be at least 15 weeks old before it travels to the UK so you can check this on the certificate. It should have also been treated for tapeworm before it enters the UK. If you have any concerns, my advice would be to walk away. Trading standards would also like to know of your concerns so that they can take appropriate action.

How Do I Determine That My New Dog Has Had A Good Start In Life?

Puppies in general would never be sold younger than 8 weeks old. Animals should be active and have a good quality coat and be of similar size to their siblings. Go for the healthy strong puppy that comes to you and looks a nice weight and size. Try to avoid the puppy that is weak and smaller than the others.

For adult dogs, you would still look for the same things:

  • Check coat quality and body condition.
  • Make sure that their temperament would fit in well with your daily schedule.
  • If you have a rescue dog be sure what you are taking on before you take one home.
  • Speak to the rescue centre.
  • Even walk your prospective dog before you take them home.
  • Introduce them to family members.

A dog is for life and has the potential to give so much back when they have a loving home. But similarly, if it’s just not going to work, you will do them a disservice taking them on and delaying the time for them to find a good home.

How Do I Know That They Are Healthy And Well?

If in doubt, we offer free new pet checks at all our practices. We will do a full veterinary exam to check your new pet and advise you on all the things that you need to do to keep them healthy.

If we feel that you have made a good choice, we will tell you so. But similarly, if we have concerns we will also let you know. As professionals, we would always give you our honest opinion. Don’t worry, we are here to help and in many cases love seeing your new member of the family