If you don’t mind chew marks on your furniture or your carpet becoming the toilet, having a puppy is a day at the beach. Otherwise, you should probably stick with a more mature dog. They are cute, yes, but labor-intensive as well. It could take as long as 3 years before they fully mature. Before they reach their third birthday, you have already endured 3 years of constant training and 3 years’ worth of test on your patience and dedication.

Don’t say you weren’t warned. If you are insistent on adopting a puppy, the following recommendations will help you in picking the one that matches you and your needs.

Look for a dog with a clean bill of health.

Sure, puppies develop diseases as they grow into mature dogs. Still, a clean bill of health should be the first thing you should look for in a potential would-be puppy. Some telltale clues that the puppy has or does not have any physical problems are:

Nose and eyes — These should be clean and clear of any debris that is associated with sickness such as mucus. These should also look healthy.

Coat — The coat should have a polished, thick look. It should also have no patches of skin or thin fur.

Belly — Puppies are often potbellied when their tummies are full. A puppy that has a swollen belly is a good indication that it is harboring worms.

Chronic sickness — Be warned with puppies that have chronic sickness. No amount of medical attention can help if the puppy is chronically sick. Also, a sick puppy often grows with major health problems into adulthood.

Check if the puppy is socialized.

Most puppies are energetic and take pleasure in playing around with their owners and other dogs. Although you can’t test the true behavior of puppies around people in confined, stressed environments like animal shelters, you can test their behaviors by handling them for a few minutes. A socialized puppy should be comfortable with the human touch. If it isn’t, it is probably the most aggressive puppy or the least trustful. Either way, you should find one that is both placid but quite aggressive. You need both in a dog.

Check out the puppy’s breed.

The puppy’s breed often determines its general trait when it’s fully grown. What you want is a breed that matches your personality. If you are the type of person who loves to go out, you should get a breed that is good for outdoor activities. If you just want a dog for long-term companionship, you should look for mid-sized companion dogs. Toys and lapdogs are the best choices if you are looking for a small dog that you can bring with you to most places.

You should also check whether the puppy is purebred or mixed bred. It is often hard to identify a purebred or mix bred puppy, but try to use the source as an indicator. There are rescue groups that are breed-specific, there are those that are aren’t. Most animal shelters foster mutts and purebred alike. Be sure to ask for information about the puppy’s breed before you give it a new home.

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