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Choosing the right puppy takes some research

Who doesn’t love a puppy? At Bark Busters Home Dog Training Stockton, I have successfully trained hundreds of puppies over the years. They are balls of energy. Before you think about getting a puppy, there are a lot of things to consider in advance. Getting the wrong puppy can lead to a dog with an undesirable temperament and personality and cause headaches for you!

What Age?
Never bring a puppy home before eight weeks – and preferably twelve – so it can bond with its mother and littermates.  Its Mom will teach it many valuable lessons, including who is leader of the pack and how to socialize with other dogs. Even though a puppy is weaned at five weeks, it is still better to let it stay with its mother for a few extra weeks to hone its natural canine skills.

Where should I get my puppy?
You have many choices. First, there are reputable breeders, but a pure bred can be pricey. A breeder usually breeds for temperament as well as physical attributes. If you are thinking about a pet store, make sure the puppies don’t come from puppy farms. And if a shelter is on your list, many have pure breds and cross breeds that have been screened for immediate health issues.

If you choose a puppy from a rescue organization you will be saving a dog’s life. Additionally, my years of dog training experience have shown that shelter dogs are no harder to train than pure breds!

What breed should I choose?
This is a very important decision. Evaluate your lifestyle – how many hours you are home, how much exercise time you have, and whether you have children or not. Do a lot of research – the Internet is full of information about different breeds. Bark Busters even features a “Breed of the Month”.

How do I select a puppy from its litter?

They are all so cute – how can you decide? The first thing is to observe a puppy with its litter mates. Focus on the differences in body language and see how they fit into the pecking order. One puppy might be bossy and dominant while the less confident ones may act more submissive. The pup that may be too timid to approach you or tries to run away may be too anxious for a family. This puppy may be better suited for a situation where there is only one or two in the family.

The pups that barks at you, backs away from you, or crouches down when you try and pet it is probably fearful. This may lead to inappropriate barking in the future, especially if you live in a condo or apartment.

What type of temperament t do you want? If you are outgoing and confident, you may want these qualities in your dog. Conversely, if you are soft spoken, don’t choose the most dominant puppy.

What is your lifestyle and age?
As a dog trainer, I have seen too many instances where a dog owner doesn’t belong with that age/breed of dog making it difficult for the pet parent in the long run. For instance, if you are a senior citizen, consider the time and energy commitment required with a puppy. If you are small in stature, consider how a Great Dane or Mastiff could pull you around. If you live in an apartment, don’t consider a breed that needs a lot of room to run around.

Should I get one puppy or two?
This is a question I am often asked. The answer is: “Only get two puppies if you genuinely want two dogs”. Otherwise, you will have double the work and two puppies won’t be any more content than one.

Two puppies from the same litter can be a problem. They may have serious fights to establish dominance. This is not as bad if one puppy is male and the other one is female, because the male will usually defer to the female. Two puppies of the same sex can cause issues as well. If you are choosing puppies from the same litter, consider a male and female.

Next month we’ll talk about how to puppy proof your home before you get to training. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have any dog or puppy questions, call Barbara Gazley at Bark Busters Central Valley. I’d love to hear from you!


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