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How to Safely Buy a Puppy Online & Avoid Scams

Buying a puppy is an exciting step, but doing so online requires careful consideration to ensure the process is safe and the puppy comes from a credible source. The convenience of the internet allows us to access a wide variety of breeders and sellers, but it also opens the door to potential scams and unethical practices. 


Let’s navigate the steps to buy a puppy online safely, ensuring a happy and healthy addition to your family.


black brown and white doodle puppy

Research Trustworthy Breeders and Sellers Online

The first step in buying a puppy online is identifying reputable breeders and sellers. A breeder's reputation is crucial when purchasing a puppy, as it reflects their commitment to ethical breeding practices and the health of their animals.


Start by looking for reviews and recommendations from past clients. Positive reviews from satisfied customers are a good indicator of a breeder's reliability. You can also ask for recommendations from friends, family, or your local veterinarian. Ensure the breeder has been inspected by the USDA or another regulatory authority, which adds another layer of credibility to their operation. 


Next, determine if the breeder has the necessary certifications and affiliations with recognized breeding organizations, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). These certifications indicate that the breeder follows established breeding standards and practices. Additionally, visit their website to gather more information. A legitimate breeder will usually have a well-maintained website with detailed information about their specific breeding practices, the breeds they specialize in, and their current puppies. 


Look for information about their breeding program, health guarantees, and testimonials from previous buyers. It’s also a good idea to contact breed clubs or organizations to verify the breeder's membership and standing. These clubs can provide valuable insights into both the breeder’s reputation and practices. 


Evaluating the Puppy’s Health and Living Conditions Before Buying It

Ensuring the health and well-being of the puppy is paramount. Ask the dog breeder about the pup's health history, including vaccinations, deworming, and any medical treatments. A responsible breeder will provide health certificates and veterinary records, confirming that the puppy is free from genetic defects and illnesses.


Additionally, inquire about the puppy's living conditions. The environment in which the puppies are raised plays a significant role in their development. Ask for photos or videos of the breeding facility. The living conditions should be clean, spacious, and well-maintained. Puppies should be well-socialized from an early age.


Ask the breeder about how they socialize their puppies and expose them to different environments, people, and other animals. Socialization is crucial for a puppy’s development and helps ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted dogs.


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The health of the puppy's parents can provide insights into potential health issues. Ask for information about the parents' health, including any genetic testing they have undergone. Responsible breeders will conduct health screenings on the breeding pair to minimize the risk of passing on genetic defects.


Verify the breeder’s puppy health guarantees. A good breeder should offer a health guarantee that covers genetic conditions for a specified period of time. This demonstrates their confidence in the health and quality of their puppies.


Understanding the Online Puppy Buying Process Keeps You Safe From Scams

The buying process for a puppy involves several important steps to ensure a smooth transaction and protect both you and the puppy.


Ensure that the breeder provides a clear contract outlining the terms of the sale, health guarantees, and any other important details. This contract should also protect your rights as a buyer and outline the breeder’s responsibilities and return policies, including refunds.


A solid breeder should offer a return policy if the puppy does not meet the agreed-upon conditions or if health issues should arise. Use secure payment methods to avoid fraud. Avoid using wire transfers or prepaid cards, as these are difficult to trace and recover. Instead, use credit cards or PayPal, which offer buyer protection. If the breeder insists on using a non-secure payment method, consider it a red flag.


Discuss the shipping and transportation options with the breeder. If the puppy needs to be transported, make sure that the breeder offers live animal shipment with climate control and emergency care. Proper transportation is crucial to avoid stress and health issues during the journey. Trustworthy breeders will have experience in shipping puppies safely and will take all necessary precautions to ensure the puppy arrives in good health.


Prepare Yourself with Detailed Questions for Dog Breeders

When speaking with breeders, prepare a comprehensive list of questions to gain a deeper understanding of their practices. Ask about the socialization process— how the puppies are exposed to different sounds, people, and environments.


Inquire about their diet: what kind of food the puppies are fed and if they have begun on any specific feeding routines. Find out about all early training efforts, such as potty training and basic commands. These details can provide insight into the breeder’s dedication to raising well-rounded puppies.


Avoiding Scams & Fraud When Buying a Puppy Online

Online puppy scams are unfortunately common, and it's important to be vigilant to avoid falling victim to them. Be aware of common online puppy scams, such as sellers who offer puppies at very low prices, demand full payment upfront, or refuse to provide health guarantees.


Scammers often use stock photos and fake testimonials to appear legitimate. Always verify the legitimacy of the breeder’s website. Look for an SSL certificate (indicated by "https" in the URL), which ensures that the site is secure.


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Check for recent, up-to-date photos of the puppies and ask for video verification. This allows you to see the puppy in real-time and verify its condition and living environment. Verify the breeder’s contact information, including their phone number and physical address. Use a reverse phone number lookup or address search to confirm their legitimacy. If the contact information is not verifiable, consider it a warning sign.


Common red flags include breeders who refuse to provide information about former owners of the same breed or won't let you see the facility where the pups are being raised. Be wary if the breeder requires payment upfront without any genetic test results or assurances regarding the puppy’s health.


Another huge warning sign is if the dog is being delivered from another country without proper documentation or if the breeder does not have a website of their own and uses puppy brokerage websites instead.


Post-Purchase Puppy Care

Once your new puppy arrives home, the first few weeks are critical for their adjustment and development. Set up a safe, comfortable space where the puppy can retreat and feel secure. Begin establishing a routine for feeding, potty breaks, and playtime. Schedule a veterinary appointment within the first few days to ensure the puppy is healthy and to set up a vaccination schedule.


Early socialization and basic training are essential; introduce the puppy to different environments, people, and gentle handling. This period is also great for bonding with your new furry friend, establishing trust and companionship.


Buying a puppy online can be a safe and rewarding experience if done correctly. By researching the best breeders, verifying credentials, evaluating the puppy's health, understanding the buying process, and avoiding scams, you can ensure a smooth and secure transaction. Always prioritize the well-being of the puppy and make informed decisions. 


Remember, adding a new fluffy puppy to your family is a significant commitment, so take your time and ensure you’re making a responsible and safe choice. Here’s to you and your future puppy! 


Jenna and the JLDD Team


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