Finding the right breed of dog for you…
It’s all very well thinking a particular breed looks pretty, and saying ‘I’ve always wanted one of those’ but when thinking about getting a dog, realistically the saying goes ‘a breed or a dog chooses you rather then you choose them’.
This will depend on how long/if you work and how much you are out during the day, and how much exercise they require. Generally speaking the larger breeds and working breeds require 2 hours of exercise a day – can you realistically offer this or find a Dog Walker? If your dog is under exercised or left for too long, he/she is more likely to develop separation anxiety or suffer from boredom. This is when you would experience over excitement on walks and difficulty in training, difficulty in toilet training and chewing/ destroying things when you leave.
As a dog walker I do not walk full males past the age of 9 months as I find them dominant. To create a happy and balanced pack on walks, I don’t want anyone to feel superior to the other (other than me being the boss of course!) and this is no different from you at home, you will still be a pack to your dog.
Once you have decided on a breed, you need to look in to any health tests or conditions common in the breed. A reputable breeder will have had their breeding dogs tested and should be able to supply you with certificates to prove that you are buying a healthy puppy. Unfortunately there are too many puppy farms out there, and although it may seem you are ‘saving’ a puppy from a puppy farm, you are also supporting them by buying from them.
In October 2018 the Dog Law changed significantly, meaning that 95% of breeders now require a license. There are stipulations where you are not required to have a license which depend on the amount of litters you have and how much the sale of puppies are, but it is important you research this too.
You can find a breeder by looking on the Kennel Club Website, speaking to other dog owners, visiting dog shows, forums and the internet. Ask people if they would recommend getting a puppy from their breeder.
When you call the breeder they should tell you about the puppy and happily answer your questions. They may well have a waiting list and you should be prepared to wait for up to a year at times for a litter, maybe even longer. The breeder should also ask you plenty of questions about your accommodation and working hours too, and may ask you to pay a deposit however, please make sure you don’t pay a penny before you meet your puppy. When visiting litters you should always visit 2, so you can compare, and even if it makes your decision even more final, you can never do too much research when deciding to increase your family. And the one most important thing to remember, when you are visiting breeders and puppies is, TRUST YOUR INSTICT. If something doesn’t feel right, you are probably right.
A dog can’t start agility until the age of 14 months, but once they are old enough and as long as they don’t have any history of joint problems, agility is the most exciting sport! It’s exhilarating and rewarding for both you and the dog, and the bond you build as you are both working as a team, together, is out of this world! You have GOT to give this a go.
You should keep your puppy on the food it was weaned on to and make any changes to brand very very gradual and slow or your puppy may get a dodgy tummy.
There are thousands of brands of food out there, but ONE thing you need to consider when choosing what brand to use is whether the ingredients contain animal or vegetable derivitives. This will consist of bird brains, beaks, claws, and any horrible off cuttings, the worst bits of any item. PEDIGREE contains animal derivatives.
By far, the best possible thing you can feed your dog is a diet of raw meat, this is your dogs natural diet. Anything processed or cooked is not, they wouldn’t open a packet, or have an oven in the wild would they. For further information on this please visit www.nutriment.co.uk/raw-feeding/.
It is incredibly important that you trust your vet and that you are not being sold things un necessarily. If you are not happy, go else where, and you are quite within your rights to get a second opinion at another vet at any time
The Law – Identification Tags and Microchipping
It is now the law that every single dog that sets foot on the street must be microchipped and have an identification tag on its collar. Even if your dog is in the car, the law still applies, so make sure you get one printed. This can be done on the internet or pet shops such as Pets At Home. DO NOT put the dog’s name on the collar, heaven forbid but if it was stolen you are giving the thief an advantage by having its name printed on the collar so they know what to call it. I suggest a mobile phone number and the area you live (e.g. Maidstone) on one side, and on the back ‘I AM MICROCHIPPED’ so if your dog is found, people know to take it to the vet to get it scanned.
Microchipping should be the top thing on your list to do, second to vaccinations as it could determine if you ever see your pooch again. I feel so strongly about it, I actually send my puppies already microchipped. It is a little rice sized chip that the vet injects under the skin and there it stays for the life of the dog. It can then be picked up by any vet or dog warden using a scanner. So just remember to keep it updated with the correct address and phone number.
Weeks 3-8 of a puppies life is when it will develop ‘primary habituation/ socialization’. Weeks 7-13 is when they develop ‘General habituation/ socialization,’ and weeks 8-13 is the critical period for sensitivity. So from the age of 7 weeks, basic commands should start to sink in and from the age of 8 weeks you should start attending puppy classes, for obedience and socialization. Between 9-12 weeks socializing with other dogs must become priority number 1, as this is when any fearful experiences become firmly imprinted for life.