Shopping For The Perfect Puppy Can Be Love At First Sight. Or Are You Being Scammed?

Looking for LOVE and how we find our best friend has been revolutionized over the last decade. The method of how we find “our dog” has morphed with technology. Finding a specific breed or that perfect “disney-like pup” has orbited into cyber space along with dating. Even in the unconditional love world of wet noses and wags, the internet has served as a double edge sword for many prospective dog owners. Unsuspecting and uneducated would-be dog parents can stumble upon puppy brokers guised within large internet companies that marked their territory by catering to fast demands of love-at-first site, no pun intended.

If you want a Jack Russell with one cute black eye, you can find it, buy it and have it shipped to you. The fast food-style of finding love in our new pup culture has it’s heartbreak. Sometimes years into the relationship of mutt-rimony issue’s can be revealed with health, temperament or impulse buys that become a mismatch of lifestyle. How do I know? As a long time dog trainer and pet expert, I have seen first-hand the issues and help resolve them empathetically.

The good new is that with people like Betsy Saul the co-founder of Petfinder.com the web can also change the face of animal welfare. Over 5 million people visit that site each month. The website is designed to find your designer dog (in a way) just like the other sites. The only difference is that you can really taylor it to you needs and rescue a puppy or older dog of your choice. Choose any color, size, age and even in your own state and viola you can find your match. They facilitate over 2 million adoptions a year. Since the website (and others) have been created, the number of adoptable pets being euthanized has dropped form over 16 million to an estimated 4 million. Congratulations and thank you!

Now that’s love!

Paws For A Minute® Puppy Guide 2012: How to Find The Best Puppy.

So you’re looking for a new puppy but don’t know where to begin? The Puppy Guide 2011/12 is here to get you started on the right track to perfect muttrimony! It’s so easy to say “I want a new puppy” but, yet much harder to determine where to look, what to look for and, ultimately, decide which pup is right for your home.

Paws for a Minute® Puppy Guide 2012: How To Find That Perfect New Pup To Fit Your Lifestyle

Know Thy Self: Picking a puppy is not easy. There are so many different breeds and many different personalities within a given breed that it’s tough to know where to begin the search. I suggest you start by thinking about your own lifestyle. Ask yourself some key questions and answer them honestly:

Are you active? Are you a couch potato? Do you travel a lot? Are you single or married? Do you have roommates? Do you have other pets? Are you a parent? How old are your children? What’s the energy level like in your home? Have you had dogs before? Are you allergic?

The answers to these questions will give you a much better idea of what type of dog and temperament will fit comfortably in your daily life. Think about the following questions and or concerns: size, exercise needs of the breed, your time and lifestyle, allergies, does you your financial budget include raising a dog, does the breed you like shed? Once you know roughly what your lifestyle and budget allows then it’s time to start researching breeds.

Do Your Homework: When picking a breed remember that there are always exceptions to the rule. Not every puppy is going to grow up to have the temperament described in the breed’s standard.  In general, go with three top favorites and investigate from there. Another great idea is to visit a local dog park. There you will find many owners with dogs you may be interested in, and be able to ask questions and seek out more information and match your expectations with their experience.

More Food For Thought: It’s not just personality and size that matter most. You should also consider any additional health risks or issues associated with a given breed. There are many breeds out there that have well-known chronic health issues. Issues prevail over time so you may not recognize such conditions during puppyhood. The problem may not prevail in all dogs of that breed but it could potentially mean LOTS of vet bills later so know your facts before hand and rule out anything you’re not prepared to handle.

Where To Buy Your Pup: First and foremost, be wary of online puppy stores and/or breeders. The internet is a great place to do your research but actually buying a puppy on the web usually ends bad. Whether it’s as severe as a rip-off scam or simply buying a puppy mill pup, you may get burned and it’s definitely going to cost you. In the long run you will save time, money and perhaps some emotional distress if you find a reliable breeder, rescue group or shelter. You can always find very reputable breeders on the America Kennel Club site. Or a great thing to do is visit any dog show in your local area. These shows are always hosted by breed or all breed events by a kennel club (such as AKC) there you can meet great people who breed professionally.  Also, keep in mind that nearly every breed has a rescue organization in nearly every major city. Always ask the right questions and make sure to visit them in person. That way you can meet greet and inspect their facilities and get a sense of how they treat their animals. Usually, your gut will guide you to make the right decision.

Good Questions To Ask Breeders

Who are the dog’s parents? Can I meet the parents? Do you have info on the dog’s bloodline? Where are the dogs kept? Can I see your housing facilities? Are there any health issues or risks in this bloodline? Do you have any certifications? Do the dogs have any medical certifications? Do you like the person you are speaking to?

Good Questions To Ask Shelters How old is the dog? Do you have any history on this dog? How long has the dog been in the shelter? Has it ever been adopted and returned? Where are the dogs kept and does it have any outstanding behaviors associated with being approached or while being fed? Can I see the housing facilities? Is the dog spayed or neutered? Does the dog have it’s shots with proper documentation?

Also, steer clear of “puppy stores.” Any shop with puppies playing in the window usually gets their dogs from large-scale puppy mills. Any puppy paper or pedigree that says USDA on it is not a fancy title or kennel. It means the kennel the puppy came from is a commercial one. It stands for United States Department of Agriculture and is one that’s zoned for breeding very large amounts of dogs. There are brokers who farm out these pup’s from other sources to the web and pet stores. The store itself may not even realize it! Not only should you not support this practice for the simple fact that they increase dog populations and we’re already in an overpopulation crisis in most cities but for the dogs themselves. Many puppy mill puppies are bred from dogs with genetic disorders, health issues or other problems that will likely cost you in vet bills later.

If you want the Pet Shop experience but would like to rescue a dog, look into facilities like Found Animals’ Adopt & Shop. This is a great option because you get to walk around and shop as though you were in the puppy store but at the end of the day you are really rescuing a dog from the shelter. What’s also great is that many shelter have older puppies, say 5 months and up.  If you are in LA, Adopt & Shop is a fantastic choice. If not, look online for a similar initiative near you. It’s worth it!