When you are choosing a puppy, there are many things to think of, all being well, you will have your dog for 10 – 20 years and so your decision needs to be a carefully thought out and well researched one. This is a paid advertorial piece for Agria Pet Insurance, all wording and cute puppy spam is my own.
When we got Hendrix, we were coming into it slightly battered and bruised. After we said goodbye to our beloved 12 year old Lab Monty, we got a rescue pup from Romania, but he couldn’t cope with life in a busy family and we very sadly had to make the decision to have him re-homed to a family with much older children. It was one of the most painful decisions we’ve had to make and I didn’t think I could go through the sadness of saying goodbye to a dog again.
We still missed having one though, I have never not had a pooch, and so when Dave tentatively broached the idea of getting another, I initially said no but he very sneakily persuaded me to visit a breeder who just so happened to have a litter of Labs ready to go in a few weeks. Surprise surprise, I couldn’t resist the tiny beautiful little faces and a few weeks later, we had Hendrix! We decided that we wanted a male as we have always had dogs, we also didn’t want to have the mess around the house created by a bitch in season. We also had to decide on colour, there were a mixture of black and golden puppies in the litter and we chose the palest golden, so fair he is almost white. With hindsight, that may not have been the best plan though, considering we wear so many dark colours as a family!
The reason we chose a yellow Lab over a black one was simply because we live in a town and walk a lot at night, we also thought having a pale face would be easier for the children to identify his facial expressions as it can sometimes be hard to see a dog’s eyes when they are dark coloured.
As part of their ‘Puppy Love’ campaign, aiming to spread awareness of their drive to promote responsible pet ownership, Agria have been surveying the nation and have compiled some fun statistics as well as talking to some experts in the field.
- Over three quarters of people (76%) say it was love at first sight when they set eyes upon their furry friend in comparison to 49% of people who said it was love at first sight when they saw their partner. – Haha, I can well believe this, although I fell for my husband as quickly as I fell for Hendrix I think!
- Over half of Brits (64%) prefer dogs to humans – I think this one is definitely true at times for me, dogs are certainly easier, far less emotionally complicated and less grouchy then people can be! Plus he is always thrilled to see me!
- 53% of people would rather snuggle with their dog than their partner – I’m not sure about this one, I mean, I really love Hendy but he can be pretty whiffy at times!
- For over half of people (56%) it only takes up to 30 minutes to realise their dog is “the one.” – I think this is certainly true for us. With Monty we knew because he was the only puppy to come over and he sat on Dave’s foot. With Hendrix, I just felt very strongly that I wanted to take him home and love him forever!
It isn’t as simple as searching online for puppies though, you really need to take some things into consideration when adding a puppy to your family. I’ll outline the most important below.
Breed: Which breed to choose is a really big one. Although each dog has their own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, generally there are some typical breed characteristics for each type of dog. For example, German Shepherds are more alert and protective and are often used for guarding jobs or protecting people. Spaniels are very high energy and need a lot of exercise. Collies are very bright and need lots of mental stimulation. Labradors are the stereotypical family pet as they are good with children and gentle by nature. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known as the ‘nanny dog’ as they are so good with children, despite their unfounded bad reputation.
Breeder: This is huge. There are an abundance of puppy farms now, and also a lot of dog thefts so please, please do your research. Meet the breeder, see the mother and puppies at home, find out about the father. When we got Hendrix, Dave was doing some work for someone with a lovely Labrador and really liked the temperament of the dog and so asked for the details of the breeder. A good breeder will vet you as much as you vet them, be genuinely concerned for the welfare of their dogs and want to be certain they are going to a good home with caring owners. Knowing about the parents of your puppy will give you an idea of the temperament and a rough idea of the size your pup will be when they are fully grown.
To Rescue: As I mentioned above, we got a rescue puppy before Hendrix and had such a heart-breaking time that I would never say don’t rescue, but if you have young children, exercise extra caution and seek help from the rescue centre straight away if there are any issues.
Insurance: This is something we consider really important as our first Labrador had some serious health problems. We didn’t have him insured and I can’t begin to add up the cost of his treatment over the years. Thousands and thousands of pounds! But when they are your baby, you pay it because you love them and you can’t bear to see them suffer. At least with insurance, you know that they are covered should the worst happen and they are injured or need emergency treatment. Agria Pet Insurance are one such provider, with 128 years of experience. They are currently running a Healthy Start Campaign until the 31st of March, where anyone taking out a full policy with them will get £50 to spend on vet approved things like vaccinations, dental checks and puppy packs.
Holidays: Who is going to look after your dog when you are away? What about letting them out or walking them if you are busy one day. It’s good to find a list of reputable dog walkers or kennels that you can call on, or having a list of pet-loving friends you can trust. Teaming up with other dog-owning friends can work well as you can do ‘holiday swaps’. We’re very lucky because we have my parents who will happily look after Hendrix for as long as we need and we also have a few friends who jump at the chance to have him.
Training: Your puppy will need training, whether that’s with a group or using books and videos. Initially they may howl through the night and most likely won’t come house trained and so you will be dealing with little puddles for the start, then they get a little older and are like toddlers, testing your patience and possibly chewing your shoes! Are you going to crate them? How are you going to socialise them? I would say that socialising is the most important part, I took Hendrix everywhere with me, there are a lot of dog friendly cafes and restaurants in Cheltenham now that we go to regularly and I also took him on the bus, into town when it’s busy and to puppy play dates at the vets.
So there you have it! My guide to choosing a puppy. I would advise that you give it a lot of thought, getting a dog isn’t something to do on a whim, they need a lot of care and a lot of exercise. However, if you have considered all of the above and are looking for a new best friend who is always thrilled to see you and gets you out in the fresh air every day, I can 100% recommend getting a puppy! I didn’t fall in love with Hendrix instantly, we’ve been on a bit of a journey getting to know each other, as he’s so different to our last two dogs and I think I’ve been a little bit reluctant to trust that he’s here for good. But with daily long walks and lots of cuddles, we are getting there. He sticks close by me when we go out and he ‘smiles’ which is the funniest thing, (his whole muzzle wrinkles up when he is pleased to see someone!) and he is just the sweetest boy with the children, he really is my son’s best friend and follows his every move and so over the last 10 months, I have really bonded with him. He has been the best thing for us as a family and makes us go out in every weather which is so good for our health. I couldn’t be without him now.