We pride ourselves on writing in detail about puppy buying and puppy ownership best practices. There's much more to it than people realize, but that's why doing research is so important.
Below are 50 things to consider before you buy a puppy. There are likely many you've thought about before, and some that won't apply to you, but you're bound to find a topic that hasn't crossed our mind yet.
We hope this serves as a preparation check list for you and your future pup.
From Weather, to Leash Laws to Sitters: Here's What to Think About Before You Buy a New Dog
Breed: Research different breeds to determine which might be best suited for your lifestyle and preferences in terms of size, energy level, temperament, and specific care needs. Consider contacting breed-specific rescues for insight into breed traits and care requirements.
Temperament: Each puppy has its own personality. Consider whether you prefer a more independent or clingy dog, an active or sedate one, etc. Observing the puppy's behavior with its littermates can give you clues about its personality.
Size: Small, medium, or large? The dog's size can impact everything from what kind of space you need to the cost of care. Remember, a small puppy could grow into a large dog, so consider the breed's average adult size.
Longevity: Different breeds have different life spans. Be ready for a long-term commitment. Remember, smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger ones.
Allergies: Ensure no one in your household is allergic to dogs. Spend time with dogs prior to getting a puppy to test for potential allergies.
Time Commitment: Dogs require time for feeding, exercise, training, and companionship. Consistency is key, especially in the early training stages.
Living Conditions: Make sure your living situation allows dogs and has enough space for the breed you choose. If you're renting, check your landlord's pet policy.
Grooming: Some dogs require regular grooming. Can you manage this or afford a professional groomer? Keep in mind that even short-haired breeds require grooming to keep their coats healthy.
Health: Purebred dogs may be prone to certain genetic health issues. Research the common health problems of your chosen breed and discuss these with your breeder or veterinarian.
Training: Puppies need to be trained. Consider if you have the time and patience for this. Puppy classes can be a helpful tool to aid in this process.
Exercise Needs: Some breeds require lots of exercise. Ensure you can provide this. Lack of exercise can lead to behavioral problems.
Children: If you have kids, consider the dog's breed and temperament and how they interact with children. Teach children appropriate ways to interact with a dog to ensure the safety of both.
Other Pets: If you have other pets, consider how a new puppy will fit in. Introducing the new puppy to your existing pets in a neutral environment can help ensure a smoother transition.
Noise Level: Some breeds bark more than others. Consider your tolerance for noise. Training can help manage excessive barking.
Travel: Consider who will care for the dog if you travel frequently. Research local pet sitters or boarding facilities.
Lifespan Changes: A puppy may be cute, but can you handle the changes as it matures? Remember, senior dogs require special care and attention.
Local Vet: Research local veterinarians and choose one you trust. It's a good idea to schedule a check-up soon after bringing a new puppy home.
Breed Restrictions: Some places have breed restrictions. Be aware of any that apply to you. Always check with housing management or local ordinances.
Long Hair or Short Hair: Long-haired breeds often require more grooming. Brushing your dog regularly, regardless of hair length, can also help reduce shedding and matting.
Outdoor or Indoor: Some dogs prefer to be outdoors, others are fine indoors. Consider your lifestyle. Remember, even indoor dogs need regular outdoor exercise.
Feeding: Puppies require a good diet. Research the best foods for your chosen breed. A balanced diet is critical for a puppy's growth and development.
Toilet Training: You'll need to toilet train your puppy, which can take time and patience. Crate training can be a useful tool for toilet training.
Socialization: Puppies need to be socialized with other dogs and people. Puppy classes and regular outings can help with this process.
Shedding: All dogs shed, but some breeds shed more than others. Regular grooming can help manage shedding.
Weather Certain breeds do better in specific climates. Consider the local weather conditions. Dogs with thicker coats may struggle in hot weather, while small or short-haired breeds may be sensitive to the cold.
Activity Level: Some breeds are more active than others, needing lots of play and stimulation. Puzzle toys and interactive games can help keep an active dog mentally stimulated.
Age: Would you rather adopt a puppy or an older dog? Both come with different needs and advantages. Older dogs may be calmer and already trained, while puppies offer the experience of training and watching them grow.
Breeders: Research potential breeders for reputation and ethics. Avoid puppy mills. Always ask to visit the breeder's home or facility to see the conditions the puppies are raised in.
Rescue or Buy: Consider adopting from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder. Rescue dogs can make wonderful pets and you'll be saving a life.
Insurance: Look into pet insurance options for potential health issues. Pet insurance can help offset the cost of unexpected vet bills.
Neutering/Spaying: Decide whether you'll have your dog neutered/spayed. This decision can have implications for your dog's behavior and health, and can prevent unwanted puppies.
Purebred or Mixed Breed: Each comes with its unique traits and health issues. Mixed breeds often have fewer health problems due to greater genetic diversity.
Guarding Capabilities: If you want a guard dog, some breeds are better suited. Training is also important in teaching a dog when to be protective and when to be friendly.
Puppy Proofing: Your home should be puppy-proofed to ensure it’s safe for a curious puppy. This includes removing toxic plants, securing loose wires, and keeping small objects out of reach.
Dog License: In some places, you'll need to get a dog license. Check your local regulations and ensure you comply.
Leash Laws: Learn about your local leash laws and dog park regulations. Always keep your dog leashed in public areas unless in designated off-leash zones.
Obedience Classes: Consider enrolling your puppy in obedience classes. These classes can provide important socialization and help you establish good behavior early on.
Disaster Plan: Include your dog in your family's disaster plan. This could include identifying pet-friendly shelters or arranging for a pet sitter in case of evacuation.
Pet Sitter: Identify a reliable pet sitter for times when you're unavailable. Having a trusted pet sitter can be invaluable for unexpected events or trips.
End of Life Care: It’s difficult to think about, but consider the arrangements you would make for your dog's end of life. This could include burial options or pet cremation services.
Elderly Care: As dogs age, they may require special care and treatment. This could include medication, mobility aids, or a special diet.
Furniture Damage: Puppies might chew on furniture, shoes, etc. Provide plenty of appropriate chew toys and use deterrent sprays to protect your belongings.
Car Safety: You'll need a safe way to transport your puppy in a car. Consider a car harness or crate for safety during travel.
Walking: Puppies need daily walks, sometimes multiple times a day. Walking provides important exercise and mental stimulation, and is a key part of training.
Vacations: If you like to vacation, you'll need to consider your dog's care. Pet-friendly accommodations are becoming more common, so you could consider bringing your pet along.
Emergencies: Set aside funds for unexpected veterinary emergencies. Emergencies can be expensive, and having a fund can prevent financial stress in a difficult time.
Toys & Supplies: Consider the cost of toys, beds, crates, collars, and other supplies. Different types of toys cater to different needs, like chew toys for teething, puzzle toys for mental stimulation, and plush toys for comfort.
Holidays: Holidays like the Fourth of July with fireworks can be stressful for dogs. Desensitization and counterconditioning can help your dog cope with these stressful events.
Companionship: Dogs are pack animals and need daily companionship and love. Make sure you're ready to provide this. Remember that the bond you form with your dog requires time and commitment but can be one of the most rewarding aspects of pet ownership.
Jenna and the JLDD Team