The Kennel Club is urging people to #BePuppywise after research found that more than one in 10 puppy buyers wish they had spent more time researching their decision when getting a dog.
Expectations and reality won’t always align when getting a puppy, but by doing thorough research, you can know more about what to expect and avoid unwelcome surprises and potentially devastating consequences.
To encourage responsible puppy ownership, we’re sharing the Kennel Club’s #BePuppywise step-by-step guide to finding and caring for a happy and healthy canine companion, bringing with it a lifetime of happiness, fun and a new best friend.
Are you ready?
The first step is deciding whether you’re genuinely ready for a four-legged friend. Make a start by asking yourself:
- Do you have the time to give a dog all the care and attention they need? Think about both the short- and long-term responsibilities – remember, your small puppy will become an adult dog
- If your life is already busy, will you have the time to exercise, bath, groom, feed, train and care for your dog? Dogs are time-intensive and require a lot of attention, especially while they’re young
- Have you considered the full costs of having a dog across its whole life, and being able to cover any eventualities, like trips to the vet?
- Are you active and mobile to provide enough exercise and mental stimulation every day, all year round, for your dog’s life? Dogs need to be walked and interacted with every day, come rain or shine
- Have you got plans to grow your family or move elsewhere? The size of your home and your future life plans can determine which dog which might be most suitable for you
Meeting your match
If you’ve considered all of the elements of dog ownership and think you’re ready for a canine companion, it’s really important to do your research to find the best match for you, your family and your lifestyle. There are well over 200 breeds of dogs in the UK and plenty more crossbreeds and rescue dogs of all shapes and sizes, and each one is going to be different.
Be very honest with yourself when it comes to considering what you can give a dog in terms of time, exercise, training and grooming:
- How much noise you are prepared to put up with, how much shedding, how affectionate do you want a dog to be?
- Does your dog need to be child- and pet-friendly?
- Some dogs are higher maintenance and will need a good two to three hours a day – every single day – of exercise, plus training, to keep them healthy and happy. Others will be fine with just a couple of short walks a day, although they will still need the same amount of your company.
- The secret to finding the right dog for you is to realistically match what you can give to what each breed needs. For example, city-dwellers in a smaller flat, looking for a dog with moderate exercise needs could consider a Yorkshire Terrier, while those after a bundle of energy that will give exercise-fanatics an excuse to get lots of fresh air may prefer a Springer Spaniel. For those looking for their first family dog, there are breeds particularly well suited to living alongside children – which tend to be patient enough to handle a child’s energy and curiosity, strong enough to handle the way they play, yet gentle with affectionate personalities.
- Learn as much as you can about breeds you’re interested in – both their good traits and possible downsides. Do your research and speak to experts or people you know who own the breed you’re interested in. The Kennel Club’s Discover Dogs event takes place in London in October and is a great place to meet all different types and breeds of dogs, and speak to experts about each breed’s needs and what they’re like to live with.
The best start
Choosing the right breeder is vital. A great place to start is asking friends, family, breed clubs, training clubs or your local vet to see if they have any recommendations.
The Kennel Club Assured Breeder scheme is another way to find a well-bred puppy. Breeders on the scheme health test their dogs, are regularly inspected to ensure they adhere to certain high standards, and it’s the only organisation accredited by UKAS to certify dog breeders across the UK.
All good breeders will be able to answer your questions thoroughly and informatively, and you should expect to be asked lots of questions too – it shows they care that their puppy is going to a good home. Responsible breeders will also perform relevant health testing and screening before breeding to increase the chances of producing healthy, happy puppies.
- See the puppy with its mum and in its home environment, more than once
- Are provided with paperwork, including relevant health-test results for the puppy’s parents, a contract of sale, vaccinations and microchip details
- Are prepared to be put on a waiting list – a healthy, happy puppy is worth waiting for!
Puppy farmers are clever and, via the guise of the internet, can disguise horrific breeding conditions, often selling poorly puppies to unsuspecting new owners who go on to pay the price in vet bills and heartache.
It’s vital to know the tricks of the trade. Look out for:
- Breeders who won’t let you see or meet the puppy, its mum and littermates
- Sellers who won’t show you where the puppy has been bred and raised, or who ask to meet at a neutral location
- Adverts on multiple sites or signs that the breeder is trying to make a quick sale
- The breeder not being interested in you and not asking questions about your own knowledge or situation – and equally if the seller has limited or superficial knowledge themselves
Thinking of breeding from your dog?
If you’re thinking of breeding from your dog, you can help thousands of puppy buyers who are at risk of inadvertently fueling puppy farms by joining the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder scheme. The scheme is for those caring, responsible breeders who do all the right things, like health testing and maintaining high welfare standards.
By becoming an Assured Breeder, you’re making it easier for owners to find a well-bred puppy, rather than being duped by rogue traders who churn out large volumes of puppies for money, with no concern for their health, welfare or future.
Any committed and responsible breeder is eligible to join the scheme and help to protect dog welfare, as well as benefitting from Kennel Club endorsements, rewards and discounts. Find out more at thekennelclub.org.uk/abs
Your puppy plan
From doing your research and finding the right breeder, you are well on the way to providing your puppy with the best start. So what next?
When you come to bringing your new best friend home, make sure you are well prepared and remember that these formative months where they learn and absorb their surroundings are crucial. The Kennel Club website has advice and practical tips for when you first bring your puppy home, suggestions on how to puppy proof, advice on settling them in, and socialisation guidance.
You’ll also need to think about puppy training. The Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme is a good place to start – you can find a local club on the Kennel Club website.
Some other pointers to map into a puppy plan might include:
- Establishing a routine with feeding, walking, sleeping and training
- Creating positive socialisation opportunities, including introducing your puppy to new sounds, experiences and environments
- Managing doggie ‘life admin’, like booking vaccinations, arranging insurance and updating microchip details
Dog ownership brings much happiness, and by being puppywise, you can make sure your four-legged friend is a happy, healthy new family member.
For further information and advice on how to #BePuppywise, responsible puppy ownership, and how to ensure the reality lives up to expectations, visit thekennelclub.org.uk/bepuppywise