Some handy advice for getting a dog in the UK

It’s vital you meet the parents or the surrogate parents of a puppy before you buy it. Taking time to research your breeders to find out how and where the puppies are bred is as important as how you bring your dog up. Here are several reasons as to why:

1. See their temperament

  • You get to see the temperament of the parents. Nervous and aggressive tendencies are likely to be passed onto the puppies and you might not see any of this behaviour until they are a lot older and already living with you. So seeing the parents will give you an idea of how your puppy may behave in later life.

2. Check their health

  • You are able to view the health of the parents and the puppies. If the mother is in poor health the puppies may not be getting enough milk and this will in turn effect their health and ability to fight off any disease.

3. See how the puppies are being raised

  • You can see how the puppies are being raised. Puppies need to be socialised from a very early age to things they are going to encounter as they grow up such as children, cats, Vacuum cleaners, and washing machines. Being shut away in an impoverished environment during these crucial early weeks may cause a number of behavioural problems in later life.

4. Check out where they're being raised

  • You can also see where they are being raised. Many breeders have purpose-built puppy raising areas. How clean are these areas? How many other dogs are around? Are the other dogs happy? Are they healthy? What sort of diet are these puppies and their mother receiving? Is there clean water available? Dirty environments, run down sheds, cages stacked up on top of each other are going to attract rats and disease. If you are not happy with how things look walk away and contact the vet at the local environment agency.
Image of a puppy for Vets Now article on buying a puppy

5. How good are the breeders?

  • Do they offer you a puppy contract so you can follow your puppy’s progress from the day it was born? It’s important that you know how healthy the parents are, how often the mother and puppies were wormed, any health checks received, and whether they are all up to date with their vaccinations. If you want a specific breed of puppy then it’s important that you are aware of any heritable medical conditions. The RSPCA & the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation offer a very good contract with lots of information about all the questions you should be asking and why. You can find out more information about the puppy contract here.

6. Avoid being conned

  • Most importantly if you are allowed to see the puppies, before they are old enough to leave the mother you will be less likely to be conned by someone obtaining puppies from undesirable “puppy farms”. Do not believe all that you see on fancy websites or free advertising sites. If the puppy is being offered at a low cost or they offer to bring the puppy to you, usually for a small fee, alarm bells should ring. If they have to get rid of the puppy due to their small son being allergic to it, alarm bells should ring. If they only allow you one visit on the day of collection and you do not see the mother because she is at the vets, at a friend’s house, or on a walk, alarm bells should ring. If you notice that there are other puppies around but they are different breeds and ages, and the kitchen area just doesn’t look as if it has housed a litter of 6 puppy’s for the last 8-10 weeks this is a problem sign. If the owners aren’t looking haggard after constant cleaning up and being woken at 5 o’clock in the morning by a chorus of yipping and yapping then alarm bells should ring.

7. What about rescue puppies?

  • Of course, the puppy may have been left at a rescue centre with no mother. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rescue it. The staff can still give the puppy the best start in life by making sure it meets other people, children, cats, and dishwashers etc. Nowadays most welfare organisations will have puppy socialising areas where you can go along and help raise your new puppy until it is old enough to leave or they may even have foster carers especially trained to look after motherless puppies.