How To Choose the Perfect Puppy

Ever seen someone with a bad case of puppy fever? Got it yourself? It's pernicious and highly contagious.

The obvious cure is, well -- obviously -- to get a puppy, but the obvious cure isn't always the best or the fastest. Getting a puppy should never be a spur of the moment decision; it's not a relationship to enter into lightly. You hope it is going to be one that lasts for many, many years -- the more the better, and so you'd better choose well and prepare yourself, your family, human or otherwise, and your home for the new addition.

Your first decision is what kind of adult dog do you want. All puppies are cute, but the puppy stage is fleeting and after the trying adolescent period, you're going to be living with an adult dog for years and years.

Step 1

Start with the obvious: What size dog do you want?  There is more to the size decision than just the amount of space the dog will take up. Large dogs have different temperament and personality characteristics than toy breeds or even medium sized types. Your living quarters also have to be taken into consideration. If you are renting there may be size restrictions, usually based on weight. If you have very young children, a dog that's too large might be overwhelming to them, although starting out with a puppy might allay their anxieties as they grow along with the puppy, even though the puppy is going to grow at a much quicker pace than the kids. Toddlers aren't necessarily well suited to many toy breeds either, since the little dogs are hyper aware that the little kids might fall on them or just be dangerously rough without meaning to be. No animal should have to live with fear; it can turn the best tempered dog into a nervous, cowering bundle of phobias.

Step 2

Consider what type of lifestyle you live. Once you've established a size range continue by thinking about what kind of lifestyle you have and want to establish with your dog. Are you active? Do a lot of running and want a dog to go with you, but need one that will happily turn into a couch potato as soon as the door is shut behind you? Sighthounds could be a consideration. They come in all sizes and, with a few exceptions (Afghan Hound, for example) have low grooming requirements. If interactive dog sports have caught your interest, research to see which breeds are best suited for the sport you want to join. If you love weight pull, don't go looking for a Border Collie pup, even though the little fuzzballs absolutely take your breath away from adorableness.

Step 3

Check community regulations.  Sadly, we now live in a world where we have to check community regulations before deciding on a puppy. All too many communities are falling prey to breed specific legislation so make sure that puppy you want can legally live where you live. Also, check your homeowner insurance carrier's terms to make sure you don't need to change companies in order to have the puppy of your dreams. Discrimination isn't just for German Shepherds and Pitbull Terriers anymore; many breeds are now negatively affected.

Step 4

Consider where you will purchase your new pup.  Another huge question to ask yourself is do you want to purchase a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder (because you know you don't want to support puppymills or backyard breeders by dealing with a store that sells puppies) or look for a puppy, whether pure or mixed breed, from a rescue or shelter. Unless you want to embark on a conformation show career or a mentoring program with a good breeder, a rescue or shelter puppy is a wonderful choice, just be aware that you'll have to be open to estimating your puppy's adult size since it's going to have some unknown genetic factors at work. Also, if you decide you want a puppy from a breeder, be prepared to wait, maybe for well over a year. Or two.

If you've caught puppy fever, take your time and make an educated, well considered choice for your cure. It's not like your puppy fever is going to go away all by itself.

Shelly writes for Discount Pet Mall, click over to her site to find great deals on pet doors, dog training collars, and dog stairs.

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