Getting a puppy

Getting a new puppy can be very exciting, however it can be a bit daunting if you have never owned a dog before. Where should you buy a puppy from? What do you need to buy to get ready for your new arrival? Luckily, we have done the research for you and put together this handy guide to owning a new canine companion.

Choosing the right breed for you

As of August 2021, there are 221 recognised dog breeds in the UK as well as countless crossbreeds. So how do you know which one is right for you?

Your first consideration should be your lifestyle; do you work long hours? Do you have young children? How much time can you reasonably devote to your dog per day? Some dog breeds require more mental and physical stimulation than others so it is essential that you research the breeds you are interested in. Focus on both the positive and negative traits of each breed to help you come to a more informed decision. Also bear in mind that cross-breeds can be more unpredictable when it comes to behavioural traits, so try to research the breeds of both parents to get a better picture of what to expect!

Buy or Adopt?

Which option you choose will be completely down to your preferences and personal circumstances. However, there are a few things you will need to consider:

Buying from a breeder

The English Breeding Regulations were updated in 2018 to improve the welfare of breeding dogs and their puppies, and to give prospective owners reassurance that they are buying from a reputable breeder. Every licensed breeder is now given a star rating (1-5) and a risk rating (low-risk or high-risk) based on the welfare standards upheld by the breeder and how long they have maintained these standards. Breeders are automatically placed in the high-risk category until they can demonstrate that they have maintained acceptable welfare standards for at least three years.

When you go to visit your new puppy, you must view the young with their mother. If this request is refused, you should walk away and find another breeder. You should also find out as much as you can about the puppy’s lineage and whether there are any potential genetic issues. Do not be afraid to ask lots of questions to the breeder; the more you can find out about the puppies, their environment, and their parentage, the more comfortable you can be that you have chosen a healthy puppy for your family.

Puppies should be at least eight weeks old before they are taken away from their mother, preferably 12 weeks, to ensure they are fully weaned and socialised. It is a legal requirement in the UK for all puppies over the age of 8 weeks to be microchipped. Your breeder will ensure the puppy is microchipped prior to a sale and should be able to provide you with the appropriate documentation to confirm this. When you get your puppy, you will need to change the address and owner details on the microchip to your own, which can be done by contacting the specific microchip provider your dog is registered to. This information can be found on the documents provided by the breeder. It is a legal requirement for contact details to be kept regularly up to date and accurate so ensure this is done promptly and remember to change the details when you move house!

Adopting from a shelter

Buying a dog from a shelter is often considerably less expensive than buying from a breeder. You will also know that you have offered a home to a dog in need. Bear in mind though, that many dogs held in shelters have an unknown history and often suffer from behavioural issues. So always ensure you have the time and the commitment to re-train and potentially re-socialise a rescue dog.

NEVER buy a puppy or dog on the internet! Many of these puppies are sold via breeding farms where conditions are often significantly below the acceptable standard for optimum welfare. On 6th April 2021, the government introduced Lucy’s law which means that third-party sales of puppies and kittens are now banned in England. Please note that this legislation is not yet in force in Scotland or Wales.

Shopping for Essentials

The prospect of a new puppy can be very exciting and you may be tempted to buy out the whole pet store! However, it is important to reign yourself in and focus on the essentials in the beginning. Here are a few things you will need to purchase:

Food and water bowls

You can buy either ceramic or stainless steel varieties but do ensure they are sturdy enough to prevent your dog from repeatedly knocking them over! You can also consider investing in one or two puzzle feeders or slow feeders to encourage your pup to eat slower and provide more mental stimulation.

Food

There are countless dog food varieties on the market so do your research to find the one that’s right for your dog. You can also ask your vet for further guidance. Your breeder should provide you with your puppy’s first bag of food, which will be the variety your puppy has been fed prior to the sale. If you plan to change to a different type of food, it is important to do this gradually by mixing both types together and increasing the new food ratio in increments over the course of a couple of weeks. This process will ensure your puppy has the time to adjust to the new food and will avoid any upset tummies!

A collar and lead or harness

Ensure you buy a sturdy collar that fits comfortably around your dog’s neck. As a rough guide, you should be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. As for leads, a good quality leather lead is the best option as these are incredibly durable and long-lasting if looked after correctly.

Dog tag

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires all dogs in a public place to wear a collar with their owners’ name and address engraved on it, or onto a tag fitted to the collar. Our stunning yet practical Smartie Collection of dog tags offer your dog additional comfort due to the unique placement of the split ring, which is designed to sit flat against your dog’s neck. Our Shimmer Collection of dog tags are perfect for those fashionista pups, whereas our more simple Chunky Collection is more suited to active dogs due to their incredible durability.

Safe toys

Consider the durability of the toys you wish to purchase, especially if you own a large breed. Kongs and durable rope toys are good options.

Grooming equipment

Ensure you purchase a brush that is suited to your dog’s coat type. A slicker brush is a good option for long-haired or double-coated breeds as it will help to reduce knots from both the top and undercoat.

Puppy crate or dog bed

If purchasing a dog crate, you must ensure that the crate is large enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. It is also essential that you spend time crate training your dog, to help your canine companion build up a positive association with the crate.

Health Care

The most important thing you must do when you first get your puppy is to register it with a veterinary practice. Most practices now offer healthcare plans which will help you spread the cost of veterinary treatment, so it is well worth asking what is available at your local clinic. You will also need to sort out pet insurance which will help you with the costs of any treatments if your dog falls ill in the future. At your dog’s first appointment, a vet will perform a thorough health check of your dog and assist you with booking vaccinations and sorting out flea and worm treatments.

As your puppy grows, he will need to have annual vaccine boosters which can be performed painlessly by your vet. If you are ever unsure of what is required to keep your puppy in good health, your vet should be able to guide you.

The First Few Days

The first few weeks of owning a puppy can be hectic but it’s worth the effort! Puppies benefit from a strict training schedule as this will help them to know what to expect. So it is well worth coming up with a realistic timetable and sticking to it as much as possible. Puppy classes can also be beneficial.

If you work long hours, you may need to invest in a dog walker or pet sitter to visit your dog during the day. According to the RSPCA, dogs should not be left alone for longer than 4 hours. Extended periods of being left alone can lead to anxiety, boredom, and other behavioural issues.

Dogs are the most popular pet in the UK for a reason! With the right training and health care plans in place, your puppy will be your loyal companion for years to come!

Enjoy the new canine addition to your family!