What an exciting time!
You finally decided where to get your puppy and now it is time to select your forever friend. Choosing a puppy can be difficult. It is important to choose a puppy based on your lifestyle and the puppy’s characteristics, not by how cute they are or which one comes to you first. Here are some tips on how to choose a puppy.
Where you chose to get your puppy will have an impact on how to go about choosing one. Choosing a puppy from a breeder will be different then choosing a puppy at a shelter or rescue organization.
Let’s start with choosing a puppy from a breeder.
There are two ways that puppies are picked when you get them from a breeder.
- The breeder picks the puppy for you based on what they know about you and all the other families that have paid a deposit.
- You are allowed to pick your own puppy with some guidance from the breeder.
When the latter is the case, you need to know where you are in the picking order.
If you were the last to send in a deposit you may not have an option to choose. You will simply be given the remaining puppy after everyone else has made their picks.
First to send in your deposit? Good for you. As the first person to send in the deposit you may be able to get your pick of the litter assuming the breeder does not reserve a puppy for themselves. Breeders always get the first (or second) pick(s).
The breeder makes the selection
If the breeder you selected tells you they will pick the puppy for you, make sure to tell them as much about yourself and your expectations of what you want from a puppy so that they make the best possible match.
The breeder should be asking you:
- Do you have Kids?
- Are you looking for male or female?
- Are you an active person?
- What activities are you looking to do with your pet?
- Are you looking for a calmer puppy?
- Are you looking for the dominate puppy?
- When it comes to picking a doodle or poo you may have a preferred color or hair type
You get to make the selection
Prior to the visit you should have thought about the type of personality you want your puppy to have as an adult.
Are you looking for an energetic pup or calm and quiet, independent or eager to please?
Discuss this and the questions above with your breeder and let them guide you to the pup that best fits what you are looking for.
Trust Your Breeder
Assuming you have put in the time and effort to finding a quality breeder, it is now time to trust them. As a quality breeder they spend a lot of time with the puppies getting to know their personality. Around 6 weeks breeders will allow their clients to visit and pick the puppy they want. By this time breeders should have a good idea of what the puppy’s temperament will be like.
A quality breeder will have a guarantee that they will take the dog back if it is not a good match so it is in their best interest to make sure you go home with the right dog.
What to do during the home visit
Bring a friend
When planning for your home visit ask an impartial friend or family member to come along. Seeing all those cute, happy faces can be overwhelming so it helps to have someone evaluate the pups with you.
Observe the litter
Once you arrive at the puppies home ask if you can observe the entire litter for a few minutes. Ask if any of the litter is missing. Once you ensure that all the puppies are there pay attention to how the puppies interact with each other. Try to figure out which pup is dominant and which one (if any) is shy. If you are having a hard time figuring it out, casually ask the breeder what she thinks. Both of these types of pups can come with training issues as they mature.
You want to pick from a litter of puppies that are friendly, curious, and trusting around their siblings and you. They should be exhibiting signs of interest and trust like smelling your feet and legs, crawling on you and looking for attention. They should not show signs of fear like running away or refusing to get close. It’s ok if they lose interest in you and start playing with each other.
There are several personality types for puppies, including:
The Dominate Pup – A dominate pup may seem friendly, social and active, but you may notice them stealing toys from other pups, climbing over their littermates, playing rough or trying to break out of their enclosure. These are signs of wanting to be in control and may lead to them being harder to train and challenging young children. If you have children this may not be a good fit.
The Independent Pup – An independent pup likes to make their own choices. This pup can be quick-thinking, fun loving and engaging but they can also be hard to train. Often they have their own agendas and are not interested in your commands. These pups will require a lot of training but may become bored with repetitive training.
The People Pleaser – The people pleaser wants to be with people. These pups can become very attached to their owners. With good positive training these pups can make great family companions. They will not be a good choice for a home where they are left alone often.
The Relaxed Pup – The relaxed pup may be less intelligent than their siblings, but they will balance play, interaction and sleep, well. They will be a great fit for relaxed owners and families. Make sure you don’t confuse a relaxed pup with a shy pup. A relaxed pup will still be friendly, but a shy pup will keep their distance.
The Shy Pup – The shy pup will be more timid then their littermates. They may keep their distance from you, wait in the back of the pack or hang their head low. A shy pup will need a lot of time and patience to foster their self-esteem so that they become comfortable around others. They are more suitable for singles and couples who have time to train them and give them a lot of attention.
Pick a few pups to meet individually
Once you have had a chance to evaluate the pups with their litter ask the breeder for a space where you can meet the available pups one on one out of sight from the rest of the litter. Try to conduct the following evaluations on each puppy.
Carefully pick up the puppy and cradling them in your arms and see how they reacts. Does the pup struggle? Does she try to mouth or bite? Does he lick your face? Is he calm? A puppy that puts up a struggle at first but then settles down might be easier to train than a puppy that does not want to be held.
Touch Sensitivity Test
Holding the puppy, touch his toes and squeeze gently on his paws. Touch the pup’s ears, and face too. Pups that yelp at the slightest pressure or bite your hands are not good for families with kids. A good response is a pup that shows no response.
Sit or kneel on the ground and call the puppy to you. If he does not respond to his name click your tongue or tap the ground to get the puppy’s attention. If he comes to you quickly, he may have a strong attachment to people. If he ignores you or gets distracted he may be independent and may be harder to train.
Sound Sensitivity Test
Either clap your hands behind the pup’s head or drop a set of keys on the floor near the puppy but where they cannot see it fall to see what their reaction is. Does he ignore it? Does he get startled by it? A good response for a puppy is to go investigate the source of the sound.
To check a pup’s vision, roll a ball within the pup’s field of vision and see if he reacts to it by watching it or playing with it.
Take a good look at each puppy. Puppies should be nice and round, not too fat and not too skinny. Their eyes should be clear, bright and with no crust or discharge. Their ears, nose and teeth should be clean and gums pink.
Puppies should also have clean shiny coats with no sign of dirt or debris on their bodies. Listen to how the puppy is breathing. It should be quiet without coughing or sneezing a lot.
Watch the Puppies
Watch how the puppy walks and runs. The puppy should be able to move around without limping or seeming stiff or sore. Trouble moving may indicate hip or joint issues that could develop into something worst.
Pay attention to their energy level. If a pup bounces off the walls at the breeder’s, he’ll probably do it at your home. This puppy will be good for a very active home that will include him in the activities.
Test the puppy’s bite response. Allow the puppy to mouth you until they start to bite. At that point respond with a high pitched “Ouch!” Watch to see if the pup catches on to your pain response and reacts with fear or concern, rather than excitement. Puppies who stop biting when people or dogs show pain are more likely to develop into adult dogs with good control over their mouths. Don’t be too concerned if the pup notes your reaction, stops for a moment, and then returns to nibbling your fingers. This is normal.
Now it is up to you
Picking the perfect puppy is only the beginning. How a puppy is raised will determine how they turn out. Quite/shy puppies can become dominate if allowed to run the house.
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