Lost and Found
You may want to consider adopting a puppy from an animal shelter or rescue organization. Too many unwanted puppies fill these facilities because owners don't spay or neuter their pets. (If you do not plan to breed your dog, spay or neuter your puppy as soon as possible. This is often done around 6 months; check with your vet.)These pooches, usually mixed breeds, make great pets. Not only will you be getting a companion, but you'll also be helping out. It's a win-win situation for all. Visit Petfinder.com for more information on animal shelters and where to adopt abandoned puppies.
Do Your Research
For first-time dog owners, choosing the right puppy for the family requires a little bit of work. If you want to go the way of a purebred, do preliminary research to find a match suitable for your home and lifestyle. Check with your local library, or do research online (www.akc.org and www.canismajor.com are good places to start).
Also, ask the experts: veterinarians. They know firsthand the general qualities of different breeds. Talk with friends and coworkers to get their perspectives on canine companions as well.
Decide What Kind of Puppy You Want
Next, determine what you are looking for in a puppy. Do you want big or small, short- or long-haired? Think of where you live. Some animals thrive only where they can be very active, while others require little room to be satisfied and happy. If you have children, you need to consider which breeds are compatible with them.
Like a new baby, a puppy requires a lot of attention and care. Think carefully about the time of year your family gets its first dog. Summer--when your children have more time to devote to the puppy--may be perfect.
Finally, consider your budget. The cost of a purebred dog ranges from $100 into the thousands, and your puppy will need immediate veterinary care. Also, think about the long-term costs such as grooming, medical expenses, and feeding.
Make Sure You Get the Pick of the Litter
Purchase your pet from a responsible breeder. You'll want to avoid puppy mills, where irresponsible owners keep the animals in overcrowded conditions without proper care.
Meet the pup's mother; this will give you an idea about how your dog will look and act someday. Observe each puppy's interaction with the litter. Do you want the most rambunctious one or the little shy guy?
Welcome Your Puppy Home
Once you've found the dog of your dreams, the fun is just beginning. Taking the time to find the right pooch to fit your home and lifestyle will reward you in countless ways as he or she becomes a bona fide part of the family.