So You Want a Puppy?

That’s great!! Puppies are wonderful, but they aren’t like toys. You can’t decide you don’t like a puppy and put it in the closet. Of course your parents will decide if your entire family should own a dog, but here are some ideas that might help.

Puppies Grow Into Dogs

It seems pretty simple, but sometimes people forget this! What happens once the puppy gets bigger and isn’t quite as cute? When you get a puppy, you get an animal that will live for a long time. It’s your responsibility to make sure the dog is healthy, safe, and has a good home – forever! Not just when it’s a puppy.

Plan First

Just like a warrior, team coach, or director, you’ll need to have a plan. Where will the puppy stay? (Remember – the puppy will grow into a dog! If the puppy learns to sleep on the bed, it will continue to sleep there even if it kicks you out when it gets bigger!) Who will be responsible for feeding it? For walking it? For picking up after it? See the section on “Taking Care of Your Dog.”

Getting the Dog

After deciding that you can take care of a dog, the next most important decision is the puppy. Here are some thoughts.

Purebred or Mutt?

Everybody has their own ideas on this. Here are mine:

With a purebred, you can be pretty sure what the dog will look like when it grows up. You will know more about how it will act. (Golden Retrievers are generally friendly or terriers are usually active.) Make sure you choose the right breed for you, though! Mutts can be a total surprise – but sometimes that’s the fun of them!

If you want to get involved in a specific activity, it might make a difference. If all you want is a pet to love and love you, all dogs can do that.

There are also new “designer” dogs, such as Labradoodles (half Labrador, half Poodle). Just remember that a Labradoodle puppy can be almost all Labrador, almost all Poodle, or mixed. Look at the individual puppy.

Where Do I Get the Puppy?

There are many places you can get a puppy. You and your parents should check out:

§ Purebred dog breeders. Choosing a good breeder is so important that I talk about it in a separate place. Breeders can be either a fantastic place to get a puppy or the worst place. Be careful!

§ Animal shelters. You can find a wonderful pet at a shelter, but sometimes it’s hard to find a puppy. The shelter workers won’t have a lot of information about the dog, so you won’t know if it has problems or not. (Even if the previous owners said they gave up the dog because they were moving, maybe it was because the dog barked a lot!)

§ Rescue groups. Many purebred dog clubs have rescue organizations. There are also independent rescue groups that keep homeless dogs until a forever home can be found. These groups will generally have more information about the individual dog because they’re kept in foster homes. If it’s a purebred rescue group, they’ll also have information about the breed.

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The purpose of this is to give you information so you can make a decision. But, I strongly recommend that you be careful of the following places.

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§ Pet stores. Almost all pet stores get their puppies from breeders who breed puppies only for money and don’t care about much else. Sometimes these breeders care so much about money they don’t spend any money on actually caring for the dogs! See the section on “breeders.”

§ Internet. More and more puppies are being bought from the internet. Some places are like “e-pet stores.” Of course, many good breeders have web sites, but this is not the same as selling through the internet. Although the internet is a great way to get information, be careful.

Breeders

Just like everything else, there are good breeders and bad breeders. Here are some clues about a good purebred dog breeder:

¨ They will expect you to come to visit them. (Be careful if a breeder doesn’t want you to see where the dogs are kept!)

¨ They will ask you many questions and expect you to ask them questions.

¨ They will be able to explain all the qualities of a breed – both the good and not so good!

¨ They will have carefully planned the litter, and can explain why they chose the mother and father. This includes testing for certain health problems that can be passed from parents to puppies.

¨ The breeder will usually be involved in dog-related activities, such as showing, obedience, hunting, or others. They will often belong to a dog club.

Taking Care of Your Dog

Of course you’re going to feed your dog, but there’s much more than that! Your dog will need a safe place to stay – don’t let him run around loose. A dog needs regular visits to a vet, just like you. (Hopefully you go to a people doctor, though, not a vet!) Your dog should be spayed or neutered, unless your family has a very special reason not to and are very careful.

Just eating and sleeping sounds like the life, doesn’t it? But wouldn’t you get bored? No computers or video games, no football or dancing, no hanging out with friends—nothing to do at all. Well, your dog feels the same way! She’ll be happier if she gets to spend time with you and even happier if she has something to do with you! Take her for a walk. Play catch. Or for even more fun, check out the dog related activities below!

Dog Related Activities

Showing your dog – this is the beauty show, or “conformation” in the dog world. Your dog will be judged against a “standard” – a list of what the dog should look like. It’s not easy to win; that’s why a “Champion” dog is so special!

Junior showmanship – this class looks and acts a lot like conformation, but the “handler” (person showing the dog) is being judged on how well he or she shows the dog! Only kids under 18 can show in this class.

Canine Good Citizen – isn’t really an activity, but a way to show off how well-behaved your dog is. She must show that she is calm around strangers, will allow strangers to touch her, walk on a leash, come when called, and other tasks.

Obedience – has a list of exercises the dog must perform. No, not push-ups or jumping jacks! It’s more advanced than Canine Good Citizen, because your dog must be more exact. The dog must “heel” (walk by the side of the owner), stay, come when called, and other exercises. Some people work to get the exercises perfect, while others just like the teamwork with their dogs! It doesn’t matter. As long as the dog does the exercises, he can get an obedience title.

Agility – is an obstacle course the dog must run. Dogs must climb over an A-frame, walk from one side of a see-saw to the other (without jumping off!), jump through a tire, run through a tunnel, weave around poles, and other exciting obstacles. This is a timed event. Dogs love to participate, and people love to watch agility!

Rally – is a combination of obedience and agility. It sounds harder than both, but is actually easier. It’s a great way to go from Canine Good Citizen to either activity!

Canine Freestyle – is like dancing with your dog. You get to design a routine that you and your dog perform to music. It doesn’t matter what kind of music – you can use hip-hop, rock, classical, New Age, or Irish jigs!

There are so many Other Activities that they can’t all be listed! Tracking, herding, lure coursing, dock diving, weight pull contests, flyball… well, you can see there is almost certainly an activity that will interest you and your dog!

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