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10 questions to ask when buying a puppy

Written by Ella White

Updated

Puppy eating from bowl

Introducing a puppy to the home is one of the most exciting days you’ll experience. But it’s not like buying a new toy: it’s a whole new family member that deserves – and needs – the same level of care and dedication as the rest of you. So before you pick the cutest breed and buy the first puppy you come across, there are a few considerations to be made.

1. Can You Look After A Puppy?

Puppies are tiny, fluffy, and adorable. But they’re also energetic, time-consuming, and will grow into a bigger dog that you need to be prepared to look after for life. 

First-time puppy owners can often find themselves overwhelmed by just how much time and patience their new dog demands of them, so before you begin researching breeds and breeders, consider the following:

  • Can you be around to feed your puppy up to four times a day?
  • Can you be around to let them outside to go to the toilet multiple times, including immediately after meals?
  • Do you have the patience to house train them and clean up  after them?
  • Are you prepared to wake up with them in the night?
  • Can you ensure your puppy won’t be left alone for more than a few hours?
  • Do you have the patience to train and socialize your puppy for several hours a week?
  • Can you walk your puppy at least once every day?
  • If you work, can you come home at lunch to feed your puppy and let them outside?
  • Will a puppy negatively disrupt your current lifestyle?

Dogs thrive on stability, routine, and rules. So if you don’t dedicate the time to training them they won’t just be badly behaved but they’ll be upset and anxious which can sometimes display itself as aggression or destructive tendencies. So while training might seem like a lot of effort, or if you think your dog would be happier just getting on with whatever they want, think again!

2. What Breed Is Best Suited To Your Family And Lifestyle?

Take the time to research different breeds, and understand their characteristics. This will help you choose a dog that’s the right size, temperament, and personality for your family. 

Some dogs need a lot of outdoor space, some need hours of exercise each day, and some need constant mental stimulation which very busy or less active families might not be able to keep up with. Others are best suited to country life because of their inbred hunting or working instincts so don’t make good city pets.

Remember that when you’re buying a puppy, you’re also buying a full-grown dog that will have specific needs. As well as a cute pet for the family, you’re investing in a dog’s life.

3. Where Can You Buy A Puppy?

Local animal shelters don’t just look after older dogs that have been given up. They often have litters of puppies ready for adoption as well as older puppies who have been given up after their original owner didn’t do their research. 

If you’d prefer to buy from a breeder, do your research. Make sure they’re trustworthy and experienced. Avoid cheaper backyard breeders or pet stores that often source their animals from puppy mills, and avoid classified adverts.

It’s likely that there will be plenty of known breeders with great reputations in your area, so don’t take the risk just to save money. A good breeder will be able to guarantee a healthy dog with a more predictable genetic history which is better for you and your pup in the long run. The Kennel Club has lists of certified breeders. You’ll find most breeds have active social media groups who will not only be able to recommend reputable breeders, but also offer tips and advice on their breed. 

4. Do You Know What To Expect From Your Puppy As They Grow Older?

Puppies are cute and playful – but for some, those characteristics that make them so appealing when they’re small can quickly fade as they grow older.

Fully understanding the characteristics of your dog’s breed will mean you can prepare for what they’ll be like when they’ve grown out of the cute puppy period. This goes beyond just knowing whether their energy levels and size make them a good fit for your home.

For example, some dogs have genetic predispositions towards certain illnesses. Some can be loud and yappy. Some are very protective of their owners. Some have aggressive tendencies if they’re not correctly trained. And some live much longer lifespans than others.

These are things you might not be able to tell from a small puppy, so extensive research is vital. This is another benefit of buying from a trusted shelter or breeder, as they will be able to tell you more information about your dog’s parents and any medical history that might be worth noting.

5. Can You Afford A Dog Long-Term?

Puppies are expensive. Not just to buy, but to keep. So can you afford the ongoing monthly expense of dog ownership?

As well as a comfy bed, toys, healthy food and treats, fresh food and water bowls, a crate and possibly a second travel crate, a collar and leash, and all the other bits and pieces a dog needs throughout their life, there are a number of larger expenses.

You should invest in pet insurance to soften the blow should your dog need unexpected medical care. But puppies also need vaccinations, spaying or neutering, microchipping, and regular check ups. Many dogs also need flea & worm treatments and, as they get older, some breeds are susceptible to illnesses that are likely to see them needing regular medications.

This should all be accounted for when you consider buying a puppy, as not being able to afford the upkeep is one of the main reasons dogs end up in shelters.

6. Do You Understand The Medical And Healthcare Needs Of Your Dog?

Speaking of medical needs, the repercussions of your dog's health won’t just put a strain on your wallet. Looking after an unhealthy dog is incredibly time consuming and can be very upsetting for both the dog and their family.

Understanding your own dog’s genetic background as well as the susceptibility of their breed will help you be better prepared for any health issues they might face as puppies or later in life. But if you’re not aware, you might find yourself suddenly unable to look after your dog.

For example, some larger dogs like Great Danes can develop issues in their joints as they grow. If new owners aren’t aware of these predispositions, they might not know what signs to look for in their puppy’s development, and therefore are less likely to spot the signs before it’s too late to treat.

Similarly, be aware of how much exercise your dog will need as they grow and what their average calorie intake should be each day. This varies depending on size and breed, but healthy natural foods and plenty of regular exercise are a universal requirement of all dogs.

7. Is Your Home Ready For A Puppy?

Okay, so you might be mentally and emotionally prepared for a puppy and all that entails. Now it’s time to get your house set up to match. In the wild, dogs are den-making animals and a crate offers them the sanctuary and security that emulates this feeling. 

So before you bring your puppy home, find a space in your house where you can keep your dog’s crate so they will still feel like part of the family – not shut away – but where they can choose to go for some alone time.

Fill it with a comfy bed and blankets and set a corner aside to act as a toilet, perhaps with training paper. Put their food and water bowls inside or just outside, and make sure they have toys that are mentally stimulating as well as good for cuddling and chewing.

If any areas of the house are off-limits to your dog, set this boundary with a grate or child’s stair gate. Helping your puppy understand where they can and can’t go from day one will help them settle into the home more easily.

And of course make sure any loose wires, valuables, and other items that you don’t want chewed are safely out of the way. Puppies can’t be blamed for following their instincts to chew everything in sight!

8. Can You Treat Your Puppy Like A Member Of The Family?

When we say a dog is for life, we don’t just mean that they should be kept rather than given up to a rescue shelter. Though dogs, obviously, aren’t humans, they do still deserve to become a member of the family just like the rest of you. So if you’re not able to give your dog the love, respect, and care they need throughout their whole life, it’s best not to buy one in the first place.

Dogs are time consuming and can be hard work, but offer them love, loyalty, and devotion and you’ll receive all three back in abundance. Being a dog owner is one of the most rewarding and fun experiences, if you truly allow your pup to become a member of the family. A well trained dog needs a pack leader, which will soon be you with dedicated training. Once your dog respects you as their pack, you will share some of the best memories together. Trust us: it’s worth the first few months of rigorous training.

9. Do You Know How To Train Your Puppy?

One of the toughest parts of puppy ownership is the training. From house training to toilet training to obedience training, the first few months – or even the first year – of owning a puppy can feel like one long and frustrating training journey. But when you get there, you’ll see it was worth it.

Because dogs see their owners like their pack leaders, they rely on clear boundaries to help them understand their place in the home and the wider world. So socializing your dog, introducing them to new experiences, and teaching them how to behave using positive reinforcement training are all essential for their mental wellbeing.

You can mold how your dog behaves at home, around people and other dogs, and while out on walks or in public places through dedicated training. It takes effort, but it will make your dog more pleasant for everyone to be around and will mean you can take them anywhere without the fear of them acting out.

A well trained dog is a happy dog – and makes for a happy family too. So with some patience, and possibly even some professional support if you need it, you’ll slowly see your training pay off.

10. Do You Know What A Dog Needs To Stay Healthy?

Once they’re settled, trained, and truly a member of the family, your dog needs long-term care. This varies from pet to pet, but mostly comes down to a good diet and regular exercise. Taking your dog for two – or at least one – walks per day, grooming and cleaning them regularly, brushing their teeth, and taking them for regular health check ups are all aspects of dog ownership that should be carried out as regularly and with as much commitment as you do for the human members of the family.

And most importantly, your dog needs a healthy diet to stay physically and mentally well throughout their life. Choosing a natural, protein-rich food like Front of the Pack’s vet-approved air-dried food means your dog will get all the nutrients they need without the mess of raw meals or the added nasties of kibble.

It’s dry so can be stored anywhere, and serves up in seconds. And since we’re dedicated to feeding your pet the best food possible, you’ll recognize every ingredient on the pack.