Getting a new puppy Questions to ask a breeder The breeder has a very important role in determining whether you will be getting a happy and healthy puppy or not. Genetics and early environment are so important that it’s well worth investing some time in finding a responsible educated breeder. 1. What socialisation will the pups have had before they come to you? This is the number one question to ask, many of the problems we see later in life are due to lack of socialisation in this early period. Before 8 weeks the pups should have met a lot of people (ideally 100!) of all ages, genders, appearances etc. It’s very important that they have met lots of men and children as it is these groups that most often make pups fearful. They should have mixed with other vaccinated dogs of mixed ages, ideally more than just their mother and littermates. They should have been exposed to lots of sights and sounds not shut away from things, puppies included in a bustling environment are likely to be much more stable later on. They should be handled regularly by everyone so that they become comfortable with this. If the breeder cannot tell you how they are actively socialising the pups then stay away! 2. Can I see both parents? – You should always see at least the mother, consider her temperament, is it what you are looking for? 3. How old are the parents? – They should be old enough that they have a proven history of good health and temperament. Dogs that are bred from while they are still very young are unknown quantities. 4. Investigate the common health problems associated with your chosen breed. Ask the breeder, How have they addressed the risk of these health problems? 5. What are they being fed on? – A quick internet search should give you some reviews of the chosen food if you are not familiar with it, steer clear of breeders that recommend cheap low quality food. Choosing the puppy The most important thing when meeting the litter is to choose a puppy that is confident in approaching you. Young puppies should approach you enthusiastically without fear. Take your family (those that live in the house) with you to choose the puppy, especially make sure the puppy is happy with young children if you have them. When you get the puppy home For the first 3 to 4 weeks that the puppy is with you they will not be safe to go out for a walk until their vaccinations have been completed. However this does not mean that this time is wasted! From 8 – 12 weeks old your dog’s most important learning takes place so this should be a busy time! The pup can be carried outdoors in your arms to keep them protected. The following should be on every new puppy owner’s list to achieve before your pup is 12 weeks old.... Meet another 100 new people – children, men, women, elderly, wheelchair users, men with beards, people in hats, people of various ethnicities, heights and weights! Ask everybody to feed the pup, this is the quickest way to make strange things good! Take the pup to see and hear a variety of new things – high streets, children’s playgrounds, busy roads, road works etc, at least one new place every day! Invite other dogs over to play or go to friends houses for dog meetings. Make sure the dogs are vaccinated and friendly, you want a mix of ages and sizes of dogs. This is still important even if you have many dogs yourself, your pup needs to learn good things about new dogs. Handle them gently all over every day and feed them as you do so. Have everybody in the family do this, make sure children are gentle! This is a good opportunity to teach children how to touch dogs and how not to. Ask your vet about puppy parties – they are a great way for pre vaccinated pups to mix and learn social skills without risk of infection. Before you take them out on a walk you have plenty of time to start their lead training! Get them used to having a lead on gradually in your house or garden, reward them for being at your side and following you! Measure out their daily food and put half aside for ‘training’ - getting strangers to feed them, being handled and making scary stuff appealing!