Choosing a dog takes a lot of thought, but figuring out where to get your new dog also takes some planning. Once you have decided what type of dog is right for you, it is time to start looking for your new dog. There are many options out there, but some are better than others. Research the organization or person from whom you will get your new dog to determine if they are reputable. Then, go see the location where the dogs are kept to make sure your new dog comes from a healthy environment.
Please consider dog adoption first. Here are some sources to help get you started.
- Animal Shelters: These can be great places to look for a new dog. Though lots of dogs in shelters are mixed-breed dogs, many times you can even find a purebred dog! Shelter dogs often have previous training and socialization though others may come from troubled backgrounds. Talk to the shelter staff members and volunteers about each dog you are considering to get an idea of background and personality. You can also try searching online adoption sites like Petfinder.com.
- Rescue Organizations: Rescue groups are dedicated to finding the best families for homeless dogs, some are even devoted to specific dog breeds. Most rescue organizations keep their dogs in foster homes until they can find forever homes for them. These foster parents have usually forged a bond with the dogs and can tell you a lot about their history and personalities. Rescue organizations are typically very selective because they care so much about getting their dogs into the right homes, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
- Reputable Breeders: If you choose to purchase a purebred dog, be certain you find a knowledgeable, responsible breeder with a good reputation – not a backyard breeder or puppy mill. Ask your vet and other dog owners for referrals, or get a referral from a rescue organization recommended by a national kennel club, such as the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts. A responsible breeder should be willing to show you the premises and tell you about the parents’ histories. Be certain that the breeder’s home or kennel is clean and odor-free. The adult dogs and puppies should appear healthy and lively. If you are not comfortable with the breeder, do not purchase a puppy.
Please do not purchase your new dog from a pet store. Tragically, these dogs are often from puppy mills. Though you might be “saving” the dog from poor conditions, you are supporting a terrible industry that should be put to an end. Some online kennels are actually puppy mills too, so do your research before doing business with an online kennel. Ideally, you should be able to visit the kennel first.
Be careful about getting your dog through newspaper ads and signs with statements like “free to a good home.” Unfortunately, these dogs might come from poor conditions and irresponsible dog owners. Not only might you end up with an unhealthy dog, you may also be encouraging inconsiderate people who do not spay and neuter their pets.
Making Your Final Decision
Once you think you have found the right dog, make sure he appears healthy. He should be bright-eyed and lively with a shiny coat and good appetite. If the puppy or dog has special needs of some kind (usually due to physical or temperament issues), make sure you are prepared to handle them.
Be aware that dogs or puppies that show signs of aggression, fear or other behavior problems will likely need extra training and attention from you. It does not mean that the dog is any less worthy of a good home, but it is best that you know what you are getting into. It is certainly not good for anyone if you have to return your new dog or puppy to the breeder, shelter or rescue group.
Before bringing your new dog home, you should obtain a new dog/puppy packet from the breeder or adoption group that contains general information about caring for your new dog. Make sure your home is prepared for a new dog. In addition, be sure to bring your new dog to a vet for a general examination right away. If you adopted your dog, know what to expect for the first few weeks. If you are getting a puppy, learn all about proper puppy care.
Congratulations on your new dog! May the two of you enjoy a long, happy life together!