Thinking about getting a new puppy? Read our new puppy checklist for everything you need to know.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Have you decided to add a puppy to the family?
Getting a puppy is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be a lot hard work.
This is especially true for first-time owners, who might not realise the cute addition to their family can be quite the handful!
We’ve spoken to the experts to share the best advice on choosing the right puppy for you, as well as puppy care and training tips for when you bring the little bundle of fun (and mischief) home.
Deciding which breed is best for you
Deciding which dog breed is the best fit for you and your family is is probably the most important step (aside, of course, from whether your home and lifestyle is even ready for a puppy!)
Dogs Australia is a not-for-profit organisation advocating for the preservation of purebred dogs through ethical breeding.
The organisation is a great resource for deciding which breed is the best for you.
Importantly, they can assist in ensuring the puppy is from a legitimate breeder, and not a puppy farm.
The peak Australian body champions the highest standard of animal welfare in breeding dogs.
Dogs NSW, a Dogs Australia State Member Body, is passionate about promoting the welfare of purebred dogs and responsible breeding.
President Lynette Brown says breeders who are ethical and responsible care about the health and welfare of their dogs.
“Dedicated dog breeders must become relative experts in many areas if they wish to produce sound, healthy dogs,” says Lynette.
“This includes in feeding and nutrition, housing and kennel management, mating, whelping, basic genetics, and disease control.
“They also have to have an understanding of the problems within their breeds.”
Lynette outlines the important things to keep in mind when deciding on a breed and searching for a responsible breeder.
“Responsible breeders will openly discuss both the positive and negative aspects of the breed,” says Lynette.
“They’ll allow people to visit and see the parents before they decide on purchasing.
“They will also ask a lot of questions of the new owner to know the environment their dogs will be living in.
“They should have happy, healthy dogs in clean living conditions, and provide vaccination records, microchip details, as well as assist with care instructions.”
Ultimately, healthy, beautiful dogs of sound temperament and body should be the aim of all dedicated registered dog breeders.
“Soundness impacts the dog’s quality of life, and ethical breeders must work diligently to decrease the chance of any problems.”
Top five tips for choosing a puppy
Choosing a puppy is one the most important parts of the new puppy checklist; we’ve summed up the top five tips below.
Never impulse buy Avoid buying through online advertisements and, when searching for a breeder, ensure they are registered.
Ask lots of questions Such as breeding qualifications, and general information on the breed and puppy care.
A responsible breeder should be happy to provide in-depth responses about their dogs and the breed.
Take your time Visit as many breeders as you can; your little pup will grow into a lifetime responsibility.
Learn as much about the breed as you can and talk to affiliated breed clubs and bodies such as DOGS NSW.
Take note of the cleanliness, general health of both dogs and puppies, and the willingness of the breeder to answer questions.
Ask about test results and scores of parents and other members of the family, and whether there are any other potential health problems.
Finding a responsible breeder
A responsible breeder will help you with your choice and selection of a puppy and will be willing to provide ongoing support and advice as the puppy matures.
Importantly, puppies should not leave their mother, and the breeder, until they are eight weeks old.
“Responsible breeders will care about the future and well-being of their puppies.
“They should also be able to provide the vaccination records, registration certificate, a copy of the pedigree,” says Lynette.
“A puppy care and diet sheet should also be available to you when, or before, you collect your puppy.”
Lynette warns potential buyers to be wary of breeders who deny any genetic conditions exist in their breed or their bloodlines.
“Breeders should be happy for any potential buyer to have the puppy checked by their own vet,” says Lynette.
“All dogs can suffer hereditary conditions, like heart disease, hip/elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, eye problems, and more.”
Bringing the puppy home
Once you’ve chosen the puppy for you, the next step is actually taking them home.
It can take some time, and adjustments, for both the humans and the puppy to get used to the new family dynamics.
But the time and effort you put into the first few weeks and months, will continue to pay off for their entire lifetime.
We’ve spoken to the experts and found the most important tips for puppy owners to do to ensure a smooth transition for all involved.
Puppy-proof your home
Before bringing your puppy home, you need to make sure that your house is safe for them.
Puppies are curious and love to explore, so it’s important to remove any potential hazards, such as small objects that they could swallow, toxic plants, or electrical cords.
You should also make sure that your puppy has a safe, cozy space to retreat to when they need some alone time.
Establish a Routine
Dogs thrive on routine, and establishing a routine early on will help your puppy adjust to their new home.
Owners should set a regular feeding schedule, take puppy out for regular potty break, and establisg a bedtime routine.
A routine will also help your puppy feel more secure and reduce the likelihood of accidents in the house.
Socialisation is crucial for a puppy’s development, so it’s important to start socializing your puppy as soon as possible.
This includes exposing them to different people, dogs, and environments, and teaching them how to interact appropriately.
Socialisation helps your puppy develop confidence and reduces the likelihood of behavioural issues later in life.
Positive reinforcement in puppy training
Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train your puppy.
This involves rewarding the dog for good behaviour with treats, praise, and affection.
It’s important to avoid punishment-based training methods, as they can cause fear and anxiety.
Be patient and consistent
A puppy requires a lot of time, patience, and consistency.
It’s important to be patient with your puppy as they learn and adjust to their new home.
Consistency is key; everyone should be on the same page when it comes to training and routines.
Provide lots of puppy exercise and playtime
Pups have a lot of energy and need plenty of exercise and playtime to stay happy and healthy.
This includes taking them for walks, playing games, and providing toys and puzzles for mental stimulation.
Exercise and playtime also help strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.
Invest in puppy training and obedience classes
Investing in puppy-training classes is an excellent way to socialise your puppy and teach them basic obedience skills.
Trainers can also provide guidance on specific behavioural issues and help you and your puppy build a strong bond.
Puppy training helps both the puppy and their owner learn basic skills which helps set them up for a happy, healthy life.
Remember to be patient, consistent, and provide plenty of love and attention, and you’ll have a loyal companion for years to come.
Tip Local vets often run puppy-training and are always a great option as it’s a good way to get your pup used to the vets at a very early age!
We’ve summed up the most important things to remember when choosing and bringing home a new puppy.
Research breeds Different dog breeds have different temperaments, activity levels, and care requirements.
Before choosing a puppy, research different breeds and find one that is a good match for your lifestyle and living situation.
Consider factors such as the breed’s exercise needs, grooming requirements, and compatibility with children or other pets.
Read our breed spotlight on the Border Collie to see the type of things you need to know about before getting a new dog.
Consider size Puppies come in a range of sizes, from toy breeds to giant breeds. Consider the size of your home and yard, as well as your ability to handle a larger or smaller dog.
Keep in mind that larger dogs will require more space and exercise than smaller dogs.
Consider energy level Puppies have varying energy levels, and it’s important to find a puppy with an energy level that matches your lifestyle.
For example, high-energy breeds such as Border Collies require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, while low-energy breeds such as Bulldogs may be more suitable for apartment living.
Meet the parents If possible, meet the puppy’s parents to get an idea of their temperament and behaviour.
This is also a great idea to ensure the puppy is from an ethical breeder and that he or she actually exists, and you’re not being used in a scam.
Meeting the parents can also give you an idea of what to expect from your puppy as they grow and mature.
Check for health issues Making sure the puppy is from a reputable breeder or rescue organisation not only protects against unethical breeding methods, but it also means the puppy is less likely to suffer common health conditions associated with poor breeding.
Ask for documentation of health checks and screenings to ensure that the puppy is healthy and free from genetic health issues.
If the breeder refuses, it’s a red-flag that something isn’t right and you should probably look elsewhere.
Consider training and socialisation needs All puppies require training and socialisation to become well-behaved and well-adjusted adult dogs.
Consider your ability to provide training and socialisation, and choose a breed that is suitable for your lifestyle and training goals.
Be prepared for the commitment Bringing a puppy home is a big commitment and requires time, patience, and resources.
Make sure you are prepared to provide them with a safe and loving home, regular veterinary care, exercise, training, and socialisation.
Remember, dogs aren’t a one-off expense; you need to consider their dietary needs, as well as be able to properly care for them when they are sick or injured.