A dog can truly be your best friend. She can give you years of love and companionship. But it is a lifelong commitment to own a dog. So you need to think carefully about the decision before you buy one. You have a lot of things to consider.
Here is a guide to where you can buy puppies and dogs. You will also read about what you need to know when looking for a dog seller.
Since you need the determination, money, and lifestyle to raise a pet, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want a dog?
You should have a long-term reason to get a pet. Examples of good reasons include companionship in young children or inculcation of responsibility. Bad reasons are because one of your friends has one or because it’s fashionable.
A puppy or dog affects your lifestyle, tests your patience (and the furniture of your house), and plays with your feelings. Will your reason for wanting a dog withstand the subsequent change in your life?
- What is my budget?
Having a puppy or a dog is like having a baby. You should consider all the expenses you will have. Examples are:
- initial fees of the breeder or shelter/rescue group
- quality food and treats
- equipment (like bowls, beds, crates, collars, leash)
- vet fees
- dental fees
Your pet will need hundreds of dollars throughout her lifetime. If your puppy or dog needs emergency care, this could turn into thousands of dollars.
You should be brutal with your answer to this question. You need money to look after your dog. It’s better to delay getting a dog than to leave your pet when you realize you can’t afford to give her what she needs.
- Will my lifestyle and home accommodate a puppy or dog?
A puppy needs additional attention and training. A big dog won’t be happy in a small apartment. It will take a lot of exercise for an active dog. All dogs need routines (feeding rota, schedule of training, etc.), grooming, exercise, and companionship.
If you will be absent for a long time, you might want to delay adopting a dog until you know you will be able to give her the time and attention she needs.
If your family is loud and active, you might want to get a dog that can remain calm despite the excitement of several humans in the house.
- What dog do I want?
As stated above, you need to consider temperaments.
The temperament of a puppy or dog is a large part of her personality. She might be shy, confident, sweet, protective, or aggressive. The one you acquire depends on what you want. You may want a feisty or quiet puppy.
Then you need to consider your temperament and those of your family. If you have children at home, you need to check if they can get along with animals.
If you are looking for a specific breed, then you should be aware of the health issues of that breed. You might be allergic to certain breeds but not to others.
Choose where you will buy a dog
Now that you have done some soul searching and discovered that you really need a puppy or dog in your life, your next step is to find out where you can buy or adopt a dog. They sell these kinds of pets in many places. Here are some of them:
- Animal shelters and animal rescue groups
If your budget isn’t too large and you’re not specific about your potential pet breed, consider adopting it from a reputable local shelter or animal rescue group. Adopting a homeless puppy or dog is likely to be one of the kindest things you can do throughout your life.
There are shelters or rescue groups selling specific breeds. But, in general, these organizations ‘ puppies and dogs are usually mixed breeds. In fact, this is a good thing because this means that dogs will have fewer health problems compared to purebred dogs.
The dogs also come in different ages, from puppies to senior dogs. So, you have a choice of young pets you can watch over for a long time or adult dogs that are already housetrained.
You can start your research through these sites:
- The Shelter Pet Project (http://theshelterpetproject.org/shelters) is a collaboration of the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund, and The Ad Council.
Its goal is to make potential buyers go to shelters first when they want pets and to make sure that all of the adoptable pets find good homes.
- Petfinder ( https://www.petfinder.com/ ) is an online database of animals in need of home throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. There is also a directory of nearly 11,000 animal shelters and pet adoption organizations in the searchable database.
This website wants to use the Internet and online resources to increase awareness of adoptable pets and generate more pet adoption across North America.
- Adopt-a-Pet (http://www.adoptapet.com/) is also a searchable database of adoptable pets. You can customize your search by location, age, or breed.
Adopt-a-Pet is the largest non-profit pet adoption site. It works with over 17,000 animal shelters, pet rescue groups, human societies, and agencies for pet adoption. Its purpose is similar to the goal of Petfinder of using the Internet to get adoptable pets into loving homes.
One way to know the reputation of a shelter or rescue group is to check whether it has a screening and adoption process. Signing a contract, completing a form, requesting a home visit, or screening potential buyers should be required. It’s probably not a trustworthy organization if it doesn’t have this process.
Also, the organization should facilitate a visit if the dog is being fostered. If during the visiting day the organization becomes suddenly unavailable then it is probably not a good group.
The fees for puppies and dogs from shelters or animal rescue groups are minimal. You will need to shell out $50-$150.
If you buy from a reputable organization, you will be assured that the animals have up-to-date shots and health certificates.
It is also easier to visit these organizations. Being able to visit the facilities several times can help you find the perfect dog for you and stop you from impulse buying.
You will be able to personally check the dogs and let your chosen dog get used to you before you adopt her. If you are comfortable with the dog you want, you will be able to know. You can also ask an organization expert about a temperament test. An expert can perform the test and guide you to the perfect dog or puppy.
A tip, take a notebook and write down notes about the dog you like. When you return home, you can review your notes. You’re likely to have questions when you do that during your next visit. Get to know what food you need to give, behavioral issues, and how you can make the shelter-to-home transition smooth.
You can also foster the dog before you adopt her. Doing this will allow not just you but your entire family to determine if the puppy or dog will interact well with everyone. The fostering can be for a few days to months.
If you are looking for a specific breed, then your best bet to get a good dog is to go to a breeder.
Now, because you will not acquire one from a shelter or rescue group, it doesn’t mean you should be less worried about dogs. No. It can mean you’ve been thinking about your research and doing it so you know what brings forth the needs of your life and family.
But not all breeders are ethical and responsible. Some breeders are so unethical that until the animals are sick that they breed their dogs. Some would also sell genetically defective dogs. Many are running puppy mills.
So, do your research to find a reputable breeder. You can ask a vet or other dog owner for recommendations. The American Kennel Club has a list of reputable breeders per area.
Reputable breeders will show you around their facilities and answer all of your questions. You must see where your potential pet grew up in and what condition her parents live in.
Reputable breeders are concerned about the dog so they will know all the health concerns of a puppy.
All health, breed, and vet documentation will also be provided by the breeders. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do an inspection just because they have the right papers.
So, how much does it cost to buy a dog from a breeder? You will need about $500-$3,000 depending on the breed.
Tips and advice
- Do not buy puppies or dogs online or from a pet store.
Although the Internet can help you with your research and questions, experts say that buying a pet online or from a retail pet store is not a good idea.
Puppies from firms selling online pets or pet stores are usually from puppy mills. These put the animals in a pitful condition. Do not be fooled by slogans that say the puppies are “family-raised” or “home-raised.” Many puppy mills are masquerading as breeders of small-time.
You wouldn’t want to give money to people who treat puppies in a bad way as someone who wants to be a responsible owner. Don’t think you’re “rescuing” the puppy from the mill, by buying from these irresponsible breeders, your action will pave way for more puppy mills to be opened.
Further, buying a puppy that you have not seen personally is a bad idea. You will not know if the puppy is a good fit for you. You will not be able to do a temperament test.
Buying online could also mean that when shipped to you, the animal could have suffered emotional trauma and serious physical injuries. Would you like to subject a puppy to an inanimate object delivery process?
- Have your veterinarian examine the puppy or dog before you get her.
The shelter, rescue group, or breeder will already have a medical certificate for your potential pet. But you still want a vet you know to double-check the certificate’s results.
A healthy clean bill is ideal. But even though the results are not so good, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy the puppy or dog you like. It just means you’ll be aware of your new pet of potential health problems.
If you know what you might encounter in the future, you and your vet will be able to make the necessary preparations and precautions.
- Certification does not guarantee ethical practice.
Be careful about the documents shown to you in connection with the tip above. A kennel club pedigree registration does not correspond to ethical practice. Many puppy mills are only registering their puppies to obtain these certificates. Before you buy your pet, always do your research.
There are so many street dogs or animals euthanized because their owners abandoned them. You can prevent this sad event from happening.
Take your time before a puppy or dog is purchased or adopted. Don’t rush into it. Never take chances with a puppy or dog you haven’t met. After all, you are getting a new member of your family. Make sure you can provide your pet with a loving and secure home for her entire life.