Looking at puppies is fun, but choosing a puppy is a decision that can impact your family life and your relationship with the dog for years. Here’s are some ways to find the perfect puppy for your personality and lifestyle.
1. Look at several litters if possible. Don’t choose the first puppy that runs up and jumps in your lap, looks the prettiest or seems to be the boss. Seeing a number of puppies will help you make a better decision by showing you a range of personalities and helping you to eliminate extremes in both personality and size. Biggest isn’t necessarily best, and neither is smallest, loudest or quietest.
2. Watch puppies as they play together. Who’s in charge, and who gets beat on by other puppies? Which puppies get along with everyone? For most people, the middle-of-the-road pup is the best choice.
3. Every puppy is an individual. Some are serious, some are clowns, some are reserved, some are everyone’s best friend. Before you go to see a litter, write down what kind of personality you’re looking for in a dog, activities you enjoy and your own personality traits. Ask the breeder to show you pups with the qualities you’re looking for. (Walk away from any breeder who says they’re all the same.)
4. Avoid puppies that seem fearful, shy or extremely nervous. You may feel sorry for them, but living with a dog that is afraid of people, loud noises or new experiences can be frustrating.
5. If you’re serious about getting the right puppy, don’t make up your mind on the first visit. Come back on another day and look at the puppies again. You may find that the best puppy for you was sleepy during your first visit and didn’t make a good impression, or maybe had just gotten up from a nap and was wilder than usual.
6. Temperament is important, but so is health. Ask to see up-to-date health certifications from board-certified veterinary specialists for both parents. If you can, meet the parents — at least the mom. Parent personalities are clues as to what you can expect from a puppy as it matures. You should see happy, easygoing adult dogs.
7. Avoid purchasing two puppies from the same litter. They’ll bond to each other instead of to you. Instead, get your first puppy trained and through adolescence, then bring in a second one.
8. Don’t bring your children when choosing a puppy. You’ll be under too much pressure to take the first one that appeals to them instead of the one that’s right for your family. Bring the kids only when it’s time to take the puppy home. Be sure to ask the breeder to keep other pups out of sight.
9. Don’t let price be the deciding factor. Sure, a $250 puppy may seem like a better deal than a $2,500 puppy, but if the breeder doesn’t have proof of health certifications on the parents, doesn’t provide good veterinary care or socialization and doesn’t feed high-quality food, veterinary bills and pup psychology sessions may increase the cost of the dog in the long run.
10. Don’t be in a hurry to take your new pup home. Depending on the breed, the best age for puppies to embark on their new lives is when they are 8 to 12 weeks old. Puppies in that age range are more mature. They’re generally able to sleep through most of the night, making them more easily house trained.
11. In short, use the Goldilocks principle when making your selection: Choose a puppy that’s not too big, not too small, not too aggressive and not too shy. It should be just right for you.