A New Puppy - Introduction

Thinking about getting a puppy?

Why do you want a puppy?  Will this be the first dog you've owned, and want to bring it up yourself?  Of have you had dogs before and want to replace a very large hole left by dearly loved but departed pet?  Or maybe you want a companion for an existing dog. 

Puppies are Hard Work

Whatever your reason for getting a puppy you'll probably be in for a lot more than you bargained for! 

Puppies are hard work, even for people who've had several puppies before.  Like having a new baby your mind may well have blanked out the bits that weren't so nice.  And its even worse than bringing a new baby home - it's more like bringing the worst behaved two year old toddler into the house! 

How your pup will turn out rests largely on how you bring it up although the adult dog will be particularly influenced by breed traits which make the initial choice of pup very impportant. 

Owning a dog brings with it a huge responsibility and should not be entered into on a whim.  There are too many dogs who end up in rescue shelters simply because their owners have not given enough thought as to which dog will best suit their life style. 

An adult dog's size and temperament can be determined fairly accurately by research before buying a cute little puppy.  All too many dogs in shelters end up on death row because the puppy owner did not put in the time with early training and an unsocialised, ill mannered adult dog may have too many behaviour problems for anyone to adopt her. 

Some Quick Dos and Don'ts if your thinking of buying a puppy:

1.  DON'T buy a puppy on a whim.  Puppy owning is a long commitment and careful thought needs to be given before bringing this new responsibility into your home.

DO make sure all members of the household are in agreement with the idea of having a dog.  A new puppy will upset your lifestyle, curtail some of your evenings/days out, will cause some destruction and mess in your home/garden however careful you are.  If someone is anti dog then bringing home a puppy will cause friction and arguments.

DO think carefully about the size and personality of a dog which will fit into your household and lifestyle and DO careful research about breeds and their particular traits.  Do you want a dog that doesn't shed hair?  Are you able to cope with the exercise needs of more energetic breeds?

DO research where you will be buying your puppy and make sure that it comes from health tested parents - many breeds have health problems that can be eliminated if dogs carrying particular genes or faults are not bred from.  These problems include hip displasia and hereditary blindness.  If your puppy does not come from properly tested parents you may end up with a lifetime of very large veterinary bills. 

DO understand the difference between proper health testing and breeders assuring you that there has been a 'vet check'. 

DON'T assume that buying a cross breed will give you a healthier dog than a pedigree.  The breeds in the mix may carry hereditary health problems and will not usually have the specific health tests carried out for each of the breeds.

DO be prepared to wait for your perfect puppy. 

DO be aware of where you should buy your puppy, and what you should avoid.

It's up to you! 

Puppies grow up quickly although at times you will feel you are pulling your hair out as your garden gets destroyed or she eats your favourite shoes!  The time and effort you put in during these early stages - right from choosing the breed to bringing your puppy home and those first few months - will shape your companion for hopefully up to 15 years.  Whether your puppy will grow up to be a dog that is a joy to own is completely up to you and the effort you put in from the day you decide to take a pup into your life.
Six month old puppy
The key to bringing up a healthy well balanced puppy is understanding a little bit about dog psychology and how they grow and develop.  A puppy chews as it's new teeth are coming through, not because it wants to destroy your house.  A puppy might get hyperactive if it doesn't get the exercise or mental stimulation that it needs.

Puppies need to understand the strange ways of humans, and for this training is required so she knows what you want her to do if you ask her to 'sit' or 'stay'.  We need to shape a puppy's behaviour by using rewards and positive reinforcement.  Punishment rarely works with dogs - and can have results that you didn't want. 

Taking time to understand your puppy and researching her various life stages will prepare you for the teenage tantrums and selective deafness (yes, dogs do become teenagers), and until they fully mature at around 18 months to 3 years depending on the breed. 
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Some Home Truths about Puppies

I recently saw on a forum for dog lovers a picture of the cutest little pup you ever did see.  It was only 11 weeks old, but had been handed into a rescue centre because ifs owners couldn’t cope with owning a puppy.  They could only have had it for about 3 weeks.

I cannot stress enough the work and patience involved in bringing up a puppy.  They are not cute and cuddly miniature versions of the well behaved dogs you might see your friends with - like babies they need to be nurtured to turn into the wonderful loyal four footed companion that you may have been dreaming off.

For a puppy it’s stressful enough to be taken from its mum and siblings at eight weeks old but to think of it being moved on to a rescue centre for rehoming after just a few short weeks is heart breaking.

6 week old Irish Setter puppy
So if you are thinking of getting a puppy please consider what is involved.  If you really want a dog, but do not want to go through the puppy stage, please think about rehoming an adult dog.  There are thousands of dogs looking for homes in rescues, and there may be exactly the right dog waiting for you!
This is the reality of owning a puppy:
1 Puppies do not come housetrained.  You need to be vigilant and have eyes in the back of your head to housetrain a puppy.  You will need to get up during the night, and first thing in the morning (even if you want a lie in) to prevent accidents.  It will not be the puppy’s fault if it messes in the house, but yours for not having read the signs or have been there to take it outside.  Some dogs take a long time to be fully housetrained - my Great Dane took 2 years before he stopped having any accidents.
Puppies are destructive - they will chew anything they shouldn’t, and this includes furniture, wires, shoes…  In fact anything you don’t want them to.  Prevention means preparing your house, and being around to supervise what the puppy is up to.  You know they are going to chew - so be prepared for it.  Puppies will chew until they are a year old - sometimes longer.  My Cocker Spaniel used to chew zips off coats and jackets - he couldn’t resist this until he finally grew up at around 8 years of age!
3 Puppies jump up and bite.  It’s just their way because they haven't learned any better and because they are teething and you have to teach them not to.  Which takes time and patience.  Young children and puppies need to be kept apart, or be allowed to play together under strict supervision.  Puppy biting can be quite distressing, although it shouldn’t last for too many weeks.
4 Puppies do not come ready programmed.  They need training, and training takes time.  They also need playing with and exercising once they have completed their vaccinations.  You will need to devote time to socialising your puppy.  A puppy is not something you buy to keep as an ornament.
5 Puppies destroy the garden.  They love to dig and pull up plants, and unfortunately you cannot tell them just to stick to the weeds.  If your puppy is happy left to play alone in the garden you may have a moment’s peace.  But you might also find it distressing when you find out exactly what they’ve been doing whilst you’ve been having a break! 
Remember, bringing home a puppy is like adopting a wilful 2 year old toddler.  Too young to reason with, full of energy, unable to control themselves and very mischievous.   Unlike a human baby you do not have the slow progressive development over the previous 24 months, but are suddenly thrown straight in at the deep end.

If you don’t have endless patience, if you don’t have a ‘so be it’ attitude when your favourite pair of shoes get ruined, if you get anxious and upset when anything is out of place or doesn’t go according to plan, then owning a puppy is probably not for you.

If, on the other hand, you can see the funny side when things go wrong, you look at a puddle on the floor as an opportunity to have a good clean, you can be pragmatic about the loss of a few plants and can think ‘so what, I can always get a new remote control, phone etc’, then the pleasure of bringing up your dog from the puppy stage to adult, to be able to train it and mold it into the companion you’ve always dreamed of will pay back all the inconveniences you’ve been through with dividends.

It’s what keeps us all coming back to getting a new puppy and going through it all again.
Pages you might like to look at next:

Choosing the right type of puppy for you
Where to buy a puppy (and where not to!)

STAND! A Complete Guide to Showing your Dog from Companion to Champion A fantastic new book that takes you through everything you need to know about dog showing, from training your puppy to showing at Crufts and even abroad!  Available in paperback or for Kindle.