25 Tips for Puppy Buyers

by Bob Handman

“The Dog Handyman”

I Choosing the Right Breed

Choose the right breed to suit yourself, your family and your lifestyle. There are virtually hundreds of breeds to choose from, so you will need to do your homework. Some dogs have been bred to be diggers, some are prone to barking a lot and some are bred to be extremely aggressive, etc.

II Male or Female

This decision becomes less important when you spay or neuter your puppy – most people choose to do so and I highly recommend it.

III House Training the Puppy

House training starts with crate training. When a puppy is introduced to a crate at an early age she will always think of it as her personal space. As an adult dog she will feel relaxed and comfortable when she is inside. Crate training is also the easiest way to ensure safe, secure, and contented traveling. Wherever you go, when she goes with you, she can take her portable home with her. The crate is also where to start her house training. A dog does not want to mess in it’s own bedding, so put a folded towel or blanket in the rear of her crate and place newspaper to the front. The puppy will go to the paper to relieve herself and keep her bedding dry and clean. Let your puppy out of her crate and take her outside the very first thing in the morning: you can have your coffee later!

IV Puppy Accessories
  • Collar and leash
  • Food and water bowls
  • Training crate
  • Toys for play and chewing
  • Puppy play pen – optional
V Feeding

The first question I’m usually asked by puppy buyers is “What should I feed” him or her? It can be a confusing subject considering the different types and brands of dog food available on the market today. There are five types of dog food available:

  • Moist – firm, canned
  • Semi moist – in pouches
  • Wet – in pouches or cans with gravy
  • Dry – in bags
  • Raw foods
VI Obedience Schools

Taking your puppy to obedience class to learn is one of the worst environments to train your puppy. One of the reasons that these classes run so long is that each new puppy must get used to so many distractions, other people, cars and other puppies! When training you need to keep your puppy’s attention. To do so, use a quiet room an empty garage or anywhere you can go uninterrupted without distractions.

VII Methods of Training

Training a puppy or an adult dog should be fun for you and your dog. In training a young puppy, keep it fun and keep it short: 8 to 10 minutes maximum. You can increase the duration of the training sessions after the puppy reaches the age of 12 weeks old. Now it’s time to move on to obedience training and let the fun begin!

VIII Obedience Training – The proper time to start training a dog

You should start training your puppy when she reaches the age of seven to eight weeks old. In other words, the day you get your new puppy home. After you see how quickly your puppy learned to sit on command and you want to teach her more, look for my book “The Home Grown Dog” available in published form.

IX Training to Heel

I almost feel like “heel” should not be listed as a separate command. You will be using it casually to take your puppy from room to room or outside when teaching her to “sit,stay and come.

X Training to Stay

Teaching your puppy to stay is the most difficult command for him to learn, he doesn’t want to be left behind. The drive to be part of the pack is extremely strong. Thus, when you command “Stay” and walk away he wants to go with you, the pack leader. When first training your puppy it is important to not walk away, stay very close.

XI Training to Come

This command is extremely important to teach your dog. Can you imagine having a grown, adult dog that won’t come when you call her? You would be frustrated and angry each time that you called her. This should never happen, “come” is the easiest and the most fun for you and your puppy to learn. You will be able to see the joy in your puppy’s eyes when you command her to come.

XII The Down Command

The command “Down” can mean different things to differently trained dogs. The Golden Retriever trained for duck hunting will be trained to lie down in the boat or duck blind. He will be taught “down” “stay” and he will continue to lie down until released. The dog that is trained as a loving house companion needs to be taught “down.” The companion, however needs to learn not to jump up on children or guests.

XIII Dental Care

For your dog to grow up to have strong teeth without gum disease start cleaning your young puppy’s teeth. Cleaning her teeth just once a month will do wonders, and it’s quite simple.

XIV Shipping Your Puppy

I have never had a problem with any of the airlines. Check each airline’s website for their suggestions on shipping your dog. We use the most direct route possible when shipping a puppy.

XV Shots -What – When – How often

There are many studies that now conclude yearly vaccinations are not necessary. They may not only be unnecessary but can actually damage your dog’s future health. Hill Peak Pups, follows the 2007 vaccination protocols from Washington State University, as stated on their website.

XVI Health Guarantees – what to expect

Health guarantees are always offered by reputable breeders. They range from a very simple, one page health guarantee to a more complicated health guarantee that covers genetic health problems. Always find out what kind of health guarantee the breeder offers and read it before you buy your new puppy.

XVII Daily Exercise

For your puppy of seven to 12 weeks, exercise is the time you spend playing with him. At 12 weeks old, walks should be 10 to 15 minutes.

XVIII Playtime – Do’s and Don’ts

Getting a dog all excited by roughhousing or wresting until the puppy is having fun and GROWLING is not a recommended form of play.

XIX Grooming

There are two categories of grooming. One a total grooming as done in a dog grooming shop. The second category is home grooming, these are the tasks for which you, the owner and trainer, are responsible. Let me rephrase that. These are not the grooming chores that you could do if you wanted, these are the grooming chores for which you are responsible and must do.

XX Puppy or Adult?

Before deciding whether to get a puppy or an adult, it is important to understand how a dog learns. He learns by reinforcement, either positive or negative. (see Sec. VII Obedience Schools) You should start bonding with and training your dog at seven to eight weeks old. Most people who sell their adult dog or have given him up for adoption, not only did not start their puppy training at a young age but virtually did not train him at all. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Yes, but it is much more difficult and unless you are an experienced dog trainer I would not advise taking on this difficult task. I suggest starting with a puppy, purchased from a reputable breeder and NOT at a pet shop! When you start with a puppy he will learn what you want him to do, or not to do, very quickly. A puppy learns quicker than an adult and bonds to his family in a much more positive way.

XXI Choosing A Vet

You must have confidence in your vet as you will be needing him for many years to come, so choose carefully. When you first get to his office notice if the staff is friendly and helpful, or do they act like it’s an imposition to help you? Does the office smell clean and are the exam rooms immaculate or just OK clean? Watch the new vet closely, how does he handle your dog? Is he caring and gentle or rough and in a hurry. Is he truly interested in your dog and pleasant with you? Does he let you know what he is doing and why?

XXII Food Supplements

The fact is your puppy or adult dog does need supplementation to their food. The problem is which vitamins and which minerals do you add, how much and which brands. The only supplements I recommend are Nuvet Plus. Nuvet Labs immune builder and supplement for dogs made from human grade ingredients that are manufactures in a FDA Laboratory, meeting the same guidelines as human pharmaceuticals. Use this link to visit their website Nuvet.com

XXIII Why Spay or Neuter

Males should be routinely neutered in order to modify their patterns of behavior. Dogs don’t usually suffer from a variety of behavioral problems that are caused by testosterone – for additional details see The Home Grown Dog.

XXIV How to Avoid Puppy Mills

At the time I wrote these tips the state of Virginia had been in the news as being the state with the most puppy mills. One such cruel and inhumane puppy mill had over 1000 dogs! There were just four employees to care for over 1000 dogs, certainly an impossible task. Whenever possible, visit the kennel where you intend to buy your puppy. It is not always possible to visit the kennel however. The breed upon which you have decided may not be available in your area and you have to depend on your conversations with the breeder and how freely they give you information you asked for. One check that can work in your favor is this: Tell the breeder that there aren’t any breeders of that type of dog in your area and you would like to get a discount for buying the entire litter. The discount needs to be enough to allow you a reasonable profit. A quality breeder may just hang up on you or be polite and just tell you “no”. If they say, “it can be arranged“ you just found a puppy mill. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU FIND A GOOD DOG BREEDER? What to expect from a quality breeder, at the very least a good breeder will show you both parents of your prospective puppy. The following requirements are additional items you should check: 1. Are there ample outdoor areas set aside for the dog’s daily exercise, including large grassy runs. Other runs should be concrete otherwise they cannot be completely disninfected to prevent the spread of disease.

XXV Buy my book

“The Home Grown Dog” dog training made easy for the pet owner with easy to use technique for training your new puppy. Simple, straightforward training methods spelled out in easy to understand wording plus information on grooming, feeding and general care of your dog. Bob Handman “The Dog Handyman”